Now is the time to take action

Several Cape estate agencies have, says Lanice Steward, MD of Anne Porter Knight, achieved record sales in January or February - and APKF was very definitely no exception.

“Our February sales,” she said, “were the highest in our 27 year history and at the moment it looks as if March could be just as successful.

“What we are witnessing - as we have done in previous years after a downturn - is a new trend: many sellers, who waited in the wings for prices to stabilise and start growing, are now coming back to the market in a hurry. Many now realise that if they wait more than one or two more months they could lose out.”

Potential sellers, said Steward, are usually also buying in some other market (often close at hand). They should bear in mind that if they hang onto their homes to get higher prices they will also have to pay higher elsewhere.

“The only real beneficiary will be the Receiver of Revenue.”

This year’s upsurge in sales, added Steward, was encouraged by greater availability of bank financed bonds and less demanding criteria for accessing them. However, she said, at APKF it is noteworthy that 60% of all recent sales have been for cash.

This, she said, is an indication that South Africa’s top 15% earners have come through the recession far less damaged than similar groups in Europe, the UK and the USA.

It is also, however, an indication that the banks have a long way to go before the real estate sector will be able to pat them on the back, said Steward.

“At the moment it is still the lack of bank finance which is the major limiting factor in the market.”

Asked how sustainable the current upsurge is likely to be, Steward said that it “will stay with us” and should result in an 8% to 10% rise in Cape home prices by early 2011.

“I was right when I predicted well before Christmas that the first quarter of 2010 would be the best time to buy. If people continue to delay, I am convinced they will regret it.”

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