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Cash in on the perfect storm

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Agents say current economic conditions mean this is a good time to invest in property

For many people it’s becoming increasingly difficult to feel positive about the property market which has slowed considerably since 2017, with significant dips in sales and prices.

But there is a silver lining to this cloud, even though it might appear to be elusive, says Chris Cilliers, chief executive and broker principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands.

The current market provides the perfect storm for anyone wanting to build their dream home.

“In the Winelands, we have seen a notable drop in the sale of plots and building of new homes, especially in estates, when this is actually the time when investors should be making the most of the buyer’s market.

“Not only are banks very keen to lend for the first time in ages with many offering incentives, buyers now also have better leverage than they’ve had in many years to negotiate the price of land as well as the building costs.”

Cilliers adds that there is still considerable commercial building happening around the country which means that big business confidence is still strong – an encouraging sign.

But Jill Lloyd, area specialist in Lynfrae, Claremont and Rondebosch, says the fact that the local building industry, a foundation of the economy and also South Africa’s largest employer of unskilled labour, is currently under such pressure is a cause for deep concern.

“A growing number of key companies are coming under pressure with others moving offshore.”

Despite this, those in the property market need to be realistic. Although there have certainly been extenuating influential factors, like the water crisis, political instability and the land expropriation issue, which haven’t done much to stimulate the market, “we mustn’t forget that the property industry always works in cycles”.

“There are upswings and there are price correction phases and right now we are in the latter – it was inevitable, after such a growth period. And, as Cape Town’s growth was considerably higher than in other metros, our recovery is bound to be slower.

“(While) the marked decline in sales and pricing in high-profile areas like the Atlantic seaboard is often widely publicised, further fuelling investor nervousness, these markets operate autonomously in many ways and aren’t truly reflective of what is happening generally.”

Lloyd says the current market is also ideal for those who want to upgrade.

“The lower end of the market remains active in most areas, so there is still the possibility of a good sale. Timing the bottom of a market is always difficult but I feel that it is definitely bottoming out now and investors should seize the day.”

Tycoon Warren Buffet said that the best time to buy is when others sell, and the best time to sell is when they are buying, and this holds true for the property market. This downturn has seen many markets heading back to 2008 prices and, when you subtract 10 years’ inflation, it translates into a “fantastic investment opportunity”, Cilliers says.

“But, as always, it’s a brief window of opportunity as the market always swings up again and those who do not take advantage will be kicking themselves in the not-too-distant future.”


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