Buyers and Sellers now more realistic, says Clarke

The more realistic attitude that real estate agents have for some time now been pleading for with both sellers and buyers is at last becoming evident, says Tony Clarke, MD of Rawson Properties.

Among buyers in particular, he said, despite “disheartening stories we read from time-to-time in the property and financial press”, it is now clear that the majority still end up being homeowners, in the process accepting that they can no longer afford what they had originally had in mind.

“It sometimes takes a little time for buyers to adjust to the economic realities - we saw a period in which they simply froze into a non-decision making paralysis - but they have started to come round, often agreeing to smaller or less modern homes or settling in a less expensive suburb.”

A fair number of buyers, added Clarke, are still waiting in the wings for prices to drop - but they could well be disappointed if they do not make a decision within the next few months.

“I think we are now approaching a stage in which the much publicised stabilisation of prices will soon be complete,” he said. “In many suburbs, for example, we are still seeing price rises of 8% to 12% per annum.”

Clarke said that many banks had shown a huge sense of social responsibility by agreeing to 100% bonds “as a matter of policy” in the R500,000 to R800,000 category - even though the risk at these levels is known to be greater than that at higher levels.

“It is, however, noteworthy that despite this buying in the lowest prices ranges has slowed down by some 30% or more,” he said, “but on the other hand, it is good to learn from ABSA that although the number of properties under some sort of guardianship or surveillance as a result of defaulting bond payments has increased, the number of repossessions has, in fact, not risen as yet. This indicates a growing sophistication in handling the lower income would-be homeowner and a willingness to adopt remedial measures, such as extending the bond period or allowing an interest only repayment period for a stipulated time. It also shows that the stricter credit checks following the introduction of the National Credit Act are proving effective.”


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