Trading conditions favourable

Those members of the Rawson Properties head office staff who last week were able to attend a quick review by their Chairman, Bill Rawson, were surprised to hear him make two unexpected statements.

The first was that predicting when the next upturn will take place and how strong it will be is now more difficult than at any stage in his 40 year career in property.

“The fact that the US government is taking the essential step of gradually withdrawing its support from the business sector is likely to slow down the west’s economy for a long while yet,” says Rawson, “and obviously this will impact on all of us.”

Rawson then, however, said that trading conditions in the residential property sector are now good – “whatever other commentators may say”.

“Those in high bracket property obviously cannot concur but for those of us well represented in the middle and lower middle price brackets, conditions are now highly favourable – despite nearly 50% of bond applications are still being rejected.”

It helps, said Rawson, to be able to see matters in their true perspective and context.

“Much of the negative comment is coming from those who lack experience,” said Rawson. “To anyone who was in business at the time of the 1976 Soweto riots, the 1985 Rubicon speech or even the high-interest early nineties, today’s conditions really do not look difficult – home buying is continuing at a good pace.”

Those present at the talk were also surprised to hear Rawson say that the current strict National Credit Act criteria will assist the recovery.

“We have to face the fact that the previous boom – which will almost certainly not be seen for another decade – was partly due to irresponsible lending on the part of the banks and this led to a feeling that property was foolproof and impregnable. Now, the banks are lending as far as possible only to those able to repay. This will stabilise the economy – and the residential sector – and this means that property at today’s low interest (now at a 30 year low) is as good a buy as it ever was.”

Emphasising that he was very definitely not trying to talk the market up, Rawson said that his group’s September sales would lend credence to his positive predictions.

“By mid-September, Rawson sales were already higher than those for the whole of September last year. At the end of this month we are looking at a record for the entire group’s history.”

Factors which had helped bring this about, said Rawson, were ongoing expansion, especially in Gauteng and KZN, the growing strength of the brand, the increasing experience of relatively new franchisees, the effectiveness of the countrywide referral system – and, last but not least, the great importance at Rawson’s always placed on training.

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