Pockets of SA prosperity – particularly in property | Fin24

Pockets of SA prosperity – particularly in property

May 12 2015 17:02
Cees Burgess

There appears a uniformity to the economic slowdown that is deceiving. There are pockets of prosperity that are holding their own, suggesting expansion. Not all are being held down by a crushing restraint.

The evidence of weakness is everywhere: in the supply side data (manufacturing, mining, retail, wholesale, motor trade, electricity), in the confidence indicators (business, consumers, industry purchasing managers), in the leading indicators (SARB), in the demand side data (income growth estimates, fixed investment, business inventory drawdowns).

The growth slowdown is everywhere pronounced, to the point of standstill.

Yet transfer duties paid over property transactions in March at R671m were a third higher than in March a year ago, and appear to be on a distinctly rising trend. An oddity or a deeper pointer?

And this after the Minister of Finance raised the transfer duty thresholds on property transactions. Only on transaction values over R2.25 million has the transfer duty rate been increased, steeply. On lesser transaction values the duty has been reduced.

For the overall transfer duty collection to be rising, there needs to be an increase in property values (estimated by banks to be 6% plus annually), an increase in the number of property transactions and/or the number of high value transactions to be big enough to lift overall collections through a higher duty tariff.

A combination of these various aspects may be doing the driving.

Going by what real estate agents say, and the experience of building material merchants, there is a selective liveliness out there that needs acknowledgement.  

One does not sustain growth in property turnover, especially at the higher end, without there being the money to sustain it. And so, too, the industrious pace of residential renovations observable in many suburbs. There is new building activity, too, but the real action appears to be in adding to existing residences, or modernising them.

Anecdotally, when observing at least one such neighbouring activity, or otherwise has someone in one’s circle of acquaintances so engaged, the reality suddenly seems a lot nearer than only residing in dry statistics.

And the nature of these things often isn’t of the reticent variety either. Instead, it is quite aggressive. Not everyone is apparently being held back by load shedding, commission earnings lost, a bonus foregone, or otherwise laid low by economic circumstance.

There remain household pockets capable of winning bank-approved mortgages, or having the money to sustain lifestyle enhancements. We may no longer see it quite so aggressively in the motor trade, but in property there remains an undercurrent that suggests ongoing strength in places.

Not everything has come to a standstill.

biznews  |  alec hogg  |  property market


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