It’s been a year of challenges on many fronts, with Russia’s war with Ukraine setting the scene for geopolitical uncertainty that has sent shockwaves through economies around the world.
Locally, after two years of record-low interest rates, the Reserve Bank gradually hiked interest rates to help curb inflationary pressures.
According to Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond, while this has significantly impacted affordability and highlighted the importance of prudent budgeting, the residential property market has once again proven its resilience and buyer activity in some price segments, and property sectors remains robust.
This is reflected in BetterBond’s registration volumes which have held steady above pre-2020 levels.
“Furthermore, our bond approval ratios are up 2.01% for November year-on-year, with an improvement in the approval ratio for first-time buyers of 1.44%,” Coetzee said.
“BetterBond expects house prices to soften over the next few months as we reach the peak of the rates’ hike cycle. But there is still a steady demand for bonds across price bands and regions which suggests that property is proving to be an investment safe haven during challenging economic times.”
Looking ahead, Coetzee identified key trends for the housing market in 2023:
1. Semigration, reverse semigration
Semigration will gain momentum and possibly also change direction, Coetzee said.
Lightstone has reported a significant relocation of buyers aged 46 and over who can afford to move to a new city or province, particularly the Western Cape. Semigration numbers are up to 35% for the past year, from 31% in 2020, with most of the people moving to be between the ages of 49 and 64.
Buyers in the 36 to 49 age group making lifestyle changes also opt to relocate, noted Lightstone.
“About 20% of buyers moving to the Western Cape will move to a property that is larger in size but lower in value,” said Coetzee. “Interestingly, we are also seeing a partial return of buyers, particularly at the upper end of the market, to parts of Gauteng. Many of these settle in estates that offer security and an appealing lifestyle.”
Applications for bonds from buyers in Johannesburg North West and South East make up the bulk of BetterBond’s bond applications, he said.
2. Silver semigration coming up
The relocation of particularly older buyers – i.e., “silver-semigration” – to smaller towns along the Garden Route, Whale Coast and Cape Winelands will continue.
Lightstone data (November 2022) shows that most of the people leaving their home provinces are choosing the Western Cape as their destination.
As Lightstone reports, although 46% of these buyers will opt for smaller homes as they downsize, the value may be greater.
3. Sectional titles still hot property
Sectional title remains a drawcard.
“We have seen significant interest in sectional title properties in the past few years, accounting for between 37% and 44% of stock value, according to Lightstone,” said Coetzee.
Almost a third of all property sales are for sectional title properties, with many of these going to first-time buyers investing in new developments. Meanwhile, property data shows that the volume of transfers of freehold homes has been dropping steadily over the past five years.
4. Going green and auto
Sustainable living is on the rise. Buyers want homes that provide convenience, sanctuary and sustainability, Coetzee said.
According to research from GWI, smart home product ownership has increased by 41% worldwide since 2019. Home automation – from blinds and lights to appliances makes modern living easier and simpler.
“Escalating load shedding and rising electricity costs have pushed alternative energy supply to the top of the home wishlist for many buyers. Solar energy options, boreholes, and other green features that can help reduce utility costs will add value to the home in the long-term.”
Many companies and businesses have embraced a hybrid working model, so homes that accommodate a home office and provide reliable internet connectivity remain sought after.
5. High demand for estate life
The demand for estate living will continue as security becomes even more important, especially for buyers with families.
“The pandemic highlighted the importance of being able to enjoy amenities and recreational activities within a controlled environment. In Gauteng particularly, there has been a steady increase in the value of estate homes,” said Coetzee.
6. Going micro
Micro-living takes the notion of lock-up-and-go a step further by offering urban homeowners a minimalist lifestyle.
The Uxolo development in Cape Town’s city centre, for example, has 35 units ranging in size from 24m2 to 40m2, making this an ideal option for young professionals.
According to the State of Cape Town Central City Report, published by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), most of the residents of CBD apartments are between the ages of 25 and 34.
“Micro unit developments are often mixed-use, offering residents access to restaurants, shops and other amenities within the building,” said Coetzee.
7. Pooling resources
Multi-generational living remains an option for extended families seeking to pool their resources to deal with rising living costs.
“For many buyers, a home with some extra space for a granny flat or a cottage that could accommodate elderly parents or older children is a must-have.”
8. Fintech making a splash
Digital innovation will be key in 2023, Coetzee said. The use of ‘proptech’ to help companies manage, sell and buy property will continue to innovate.
“Global investment in proptech has shot up by 28% since 2020, according to the 2021 Real Estate Tech Venture Funding Report, as more consumers opt to transact online. Locally, the value of the investment in proptech hit the $6 million mark in the first half of this year,” Coetzee said.
“Notwithstanding the economic and social challenges that marked 2022, there are some glimmers of hope to look forward to,” Coetzee said.
“Already, the economy has defied expectations with a larger than expected growth in the third quarter of this year. Furthermore, the Reserve Bank responded timeously to inflationary pressures and its hope that it will be enough to bring it back in line with midline targets so that we can start to see interest rates stabilise and even drop by the end of 2023.”