Returning SA job seekers may stimulate property market

The global credit crunch may have at least one positive fallout, by encouraging South Africans who have been living abroad to return to the country and in the process provide a degree of stimulus for the property market.

Gerhard Kotzé, CEO of the ERA South Africa property group, says anecdotal evidence suggests this is already beginning to happen - and that many South Africans have postponed their emigration plans.

“There is a new wave of joblessness in the UK, Australia and the US, traditionally regions that have attracted skilled South African emigrants. Even Dubai, where there are an estimated 50 000 South Africans, has felt the waves of the global recession. Worldwide jobs are scarce and retrenchments are the order of the day, most notably in the UK financial sector, retailing and tourism.

“By contrast South Africa, while by no means having escaped the impact of the global economic problems, is comparatively better off in terms of employment opportunities, a situation created paradoxically by the emigration of the last few years, but also by the fact that the country has a relatively sound business and banking sector.”

Nobody is suggesting that we’re about to see a flood of South Africans returning to the country, he says. “Nonetheless there are indications of something of a reversal of the outflow of recent years. Guy Lundie, co-author of ‘South Africa, Reasons to Believe’ has been quoted as saying the grass on the other side is looking a little less green.

“Also the Homecoming Revolution, a group which tries to persuade South Africans living abroad to return home, was recently is quoted as saying that four out of five South Africans who attended a group exhibition in London last year were planning to return to South Africa.”

Kotzé says that in addition, personnel agencies are reporting a “dramatic” increase in the numbers of international professionals and South African expats seeking employment in South Africa.

“And realistically, prodigal South Africans equipped with sterling, euros or dollars could provide something of a fillip for the property market.“

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