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Property agents’ 2020 predictions were turned on their heads when pandemic hit

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The only similarities between the property market at the start of 2020 and the end of the year is that buyers had, and still have, the upper hand.

All other predictions and expectations were wiped out by the global pandemic which brought the market to a standstill for several months. Some were even turned on their head as South Africans across the spectrum re-evaluated and adjusted their lives to accommodate the new normal.

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Here are some of the pre-Covid predictions for the housing market – and their eventual realities:

Prediction: The downsizing movement will continue to grow.

Reality: Many buyers and tenants are looking for properties with more space to support social distancing.

Prediction: More cluster properties will rely on communal and shared services.

Reality: People are more aware of sharing spaces due to the ease with which the coronavirus – and future health threats – can be spread.

Prediction: Many South Africans, particularly Millennials, will be forced to rent as homeownership is unaffordable.

Reality: Many people are opting to purchase their homes thanks to the opportune buying conditions. Prediction: The market would start turning in favour of sellers in the second half of the year.

Reality: The interest rate cuts continue to see buyers in the pound seats.

Similarly, though, the pandemic has fast-tracked and boosted some trends that, while already growing, were doing so at a slower pace.

These include:

Moving further away from main metros

Many South Africans were looking to relocate further from city centres which were not only unaffordable but were also offering a faster-paced way of life. Since Covid-19, this trend has accelerated. The boom in remote working has made it even easier for people to move to second-tier cities and suburbs away from the hustle and bustle.

Living a simpler life

The “Marie Kondo” style of living, where people were getting rid of unnecessary material possessions in favour of life experiences and travelling, was a growing global movement. Now, thanks to the devastating mental and physical effects of Covid-19, many people have focused on family and quality times. Although international travel is not yet at the top of people’s lists, many are embracing local destinations to make new memories.

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