Property trends revealed

The Trafalgar City report 2008, launched on Thursday, reveals that analysis done on private and public sector property sales over the past two years has unearthed interesting trends throughout South Africa.

It showed that highly sought-after residential areas have experienced dramatic property price hikes despite the escalating interest rates.

According to the report several suburbs have shown sales growth in three-bedroom houses and a corresponding drop in smaller home purchases.

Increase in smaller home purchases

Other areas confirmed an increase in smaller home purchases as entry-level homeowners seek cheaper options in bachelor flats and one-bedroom homes.

The report also highlighted some of South Africa's social housing challenges.

Provision of rental housing for lower-income earners caught between government-subsidised homes and having the capital to purchase their own accommodation has not typically been viewed as the realm of the private sector.

"When seeking solutions to the country's low-cost housing crisis, the government has often attempted to adopt and apply international best practices to the local environment," said Trafalgar managing director Andrew Schaefer.

Private sector should supply social housing

Schaefer said one lesson South Africa can take to heart is that internationally, particularly in developed countries, the private sector is expected to contribute towards boosting social housing stock.

"An estimated 20 percent of local households live in rental accommodation with the bulk of these being among poor and low-income earners and around 55 percent have a monthly income below R3500 while another 22 percent earn between R3500 and R7500," he said.

According to the report among the country's biggest problems is the quandary on breaking the vicious circle of insufficient means for investing, land scarcity and costs, residents' ignorance about regular rental payments, poor local government management, lack of experience among housing corporations and private managers and the lack of trust among the participants concerned.

The report highlighted that the worldview is slowly shifting towards sustainability

The report highlighted that the worldview is slowly shifting towards sustainability and the concept of green building — the practice of increasing the efficient use of resources by buildings and reducing the impact construction has on human health and the environment.

South Africa has been criticised for lagging on these issues, which the report reflects is an issue the newly established Green Building Council of South Africa aims to tackle.

The government is also retrofitting more than 106 000 buildings and public offices in line with 'leading by example'.

"Essentially South Africa has the systems, legislation and policies in place to deliver on its housing requirements. The way forward demands large-scale implementation, unrelenting follow-through on non delivery, consistent engagement with stakeholders and communities and the strict enforcement of existing legislation," Schaefer said.

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