Aspirant homeowners looking for a house of between R100000 and R500000 are likely to be disappointed

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

A substantial new group of homeowners has emerged in South Africa as more people enter the job market, but there is little, if any, housing to accommodate them in the current market, according to property experts.

A study by Amdec Property Development revealed that the unavailability of housing in the R100000 to R500000 price range could reach crisis levels if it is not properly dealt with.

"The convergence of South African society, which previously consisted of a chasm of haves and have-nots, has resulted in a burgeoning middle class who have nowhere to live," said Amdec chief executive James Wilson.

Strained resources as a result of frenzied infrastructure development in preparation for the 2010 Soccer World Cup will mean that low to middle-income earners will have to wait even longer for an opportunity to buy a home, said Realty Executives broker Bobo Khuzwayo.

"Though there has been growth in the residential market and some new developments have been built, it is not keeping up with the number of people entering the job market," Khuzwayo said.

He said the majority of people affected were those who have just entered the job market or have been working for a few years. He described them as "mostly young people in their 20s and early 30s. Though many of them are not university graduates, they are a sophisticated group and are looking for quality housing."

"About 80percent of the calls I get are from prospective buyers that fall into this group. They are the people who need housing more than anyone," he said.

The Amdec study showed that though many of these people were fully employed, they earned too much money to be considered for subsidised housing, but too little to qualify for a home loan of any higher than R500 000.

"Even R500 000 is high," Khuzwayo said. "In many townships most young people who are working earn an average salary of R3500 to R5000 a month. This means they are only eligible for a home loan of R150000, and that's if they are creditworthy."

There are currently only five or six significant developers operating successfully in this sector, but Wilson foresees a significant increase in this number because a strong market demand already exists and the four major banks have taken a bold step by beginning to cater for this market by introducing specialised home-loan products.