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Sales picking up, but long road ahead

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Many in the property industry are expressing satisfaction over the rise in sales and inquiries seen in the first week of this month after lockdown eased

It has been all systems go for the real estate industry since it reopened at the beginning of this month, with demand for homes picking up where it left off before lockdown. The first week back saw a number of inquiries from buyers and tenants, some wanting to view properties physically and the rest satisfied with virtual tours.

Property360’s portal has seen an increase in users scouting the for-sale and to-rent listings since the reopening of the market in level 3. There has also been “quite a frenzy” of activity in the selling arena, says John Birkett, franchisee for Rawson Properties Claremont and Rawson Rentals Cape Metro Classic.

“We concluded two sales in the first week of level 3 and both were first-time buyers who bought sectional title properties. We have more inquiries than we were getting before lockdown even started.” The Rawson group received more than 5 000 web leads from its portals and website during the lockdown period, which places it 32.44% ahead of the number of leads in June last year.

While he’s optimistic about the future and encouraged to see some early signs of increased activity in the market, Adrian Goslett, chief executive of Re/ Max of Southern Africa, says “there is still a long journey ahead before the housing market fully recovers”. He says sellers will need to remain realistic about their asking price as demand is likely to remain low until we see greater recovery.

“Buyers are also advised to be extra cautious about their spending habits, if they hope to secure bond approval, as it is likely that banks will tighten up their lending criteria over this time.” The group’s website traffic shows a “substantial increase” in listing viewings in April and last month and he believes this spike will soon turn into more leads and then sales.

Jawitz Properties agencies in the City Bowl report being busy during the first week of this month with a number of inquiries from buyers, sellers and tenants. 

The Atlantic Seaboard/City Bowl branch has seen more interest expressed than anticipated and the number of inquiries is on the rise, says branch manager Glenda Luitingh.

“We have concluded a number of sales and there are potential deals in the pipeline.” In the southern suburbs, a number of viewings have taken place on properties which received offers during lockdown, says sales manager Hayley Vann-Herbert.

The branch has also had many inquiries from international buyers looking to take advantage of the exchange rate and first-time buyers wishing to capitalise on lower interest rates. Harold Kolnik, principal of Jawitz Properties South Peninsula, adds: “We have noticed pent-up demand from people who are first-time buyers and people who seem to have secure employment with money available. We were able to conclude several offers that had been made during lockdown, after a final viewing of the property.”

Harcourts’s agents reported a “very positive” first week back, says chief executive Richard Gray.

A poll conducted among its agents nationwide indicated:

• 72% were busier than in a normal week when it came to working with buyers and sellers and concluding sales or mandates.

• Over 30% (included in the 72%) said they were “exceptionally” busy.

• 16% said that they were quieter than in a normal week. Most of these were in smaller markets.

“There was no regional pattern and it appears that the increased activity spanned all provinces and major metros.” Similarly, there is a positive trend in terms of the number of home-loan applications being submitted, says Property360 Home Loan agent Celestine Williams.

She describes the number of applications as “encouraging”, showing a surprising surge so soon after the lifting of level 4 restrictions. BetterBond chief executive Carl Coetzee, agrees.

“Overall, the market seems to be performing better than anticipated. In April, just after the lockdown started, the number of applications dropped by 68% year-onyear. In May, the number of applications only dropped by 32% year-on-year which shows that consumer confidence has not been eroded despite the economic challenges the country is facing… This is a promising sign for market recovery post-lockdown.”

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