Now is the time to buy property

Last year, the commercial property market was affected by the recession, high unemployment, liquidations, insolvencies and the global economy.

This year, excellent prospects are expected in the local commercial property market. Marna van der Walt, chief executive of retail management property services group JHI, predicted last year that in 2010 there would be positive economic growth in South Africa, with inflation falling to within the target range, a change in banks' lending criteria, improved business confidence and an upturn of the global economy.

Norman Raad, from Auction Alliance, said that the driver behind this positive sentiment is a direct result of the huge targets set for all the major bank commercial property finance teams.

Last year, the majority of banks were cautious about lending as they tried to manage their bad debts, said Raad. As a result, the lending criteria have changed and access to loans has become more challenging. For this reason, clients are going to need to come up with more equity at a slightly higher lending rate than before. But the outlook remains positive for the year ahead.

"For the past few years, we have seen demand exceed supply, but this will soon change. If you are thinking of investing in the property market, now is the perfect time - the more cash you have available, the more opportunities will come your way," said Raad.

And it seems that there will be an abundance of investment properties to choose from next week.

On Thursday, February 25, Aucor is promising an exciting investment property auction. Office blocks, a luxury Sandton apartment and a residential block are on offer.

A prime opportunity is a state-of-the-art day spa in Fourways, which will be sold as a going concern. It has a significant existing client base and has up-to-date equipment.

On February 24, Bidline is holding a multi-purpose property auction. It will sell hotels, residential and business buildings, and a trout farm in Dullstroom.

Raad predicts "a bounce after the flat markets experienced during 2008 and 2009. All the necessary property fundamentals are there, and if the banks begin to write new business and the rates remain unchanged, we are in for a good run, even after the World Cup".

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