Rates scare potential buyers

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

Houses are getting harder to sell, most sellers are settling for less than they wanted and estate agents say they don't expect the market to improve in the current quarter, according to the latest First National Bank (FNB) Residential Property Barometer.

In the latest confirmation that the economic slowdown is hurting home owners, the FNB survey said houses sold in April, May and June had been on the market for an average of four months - up from three months in the previous quarter.

The FNB Barometer for the second quarter of 2008 said more than four out of five properties stayed on the market for four months. Despite reduced price expectations, at least 85percent of sellers settled for less than their original asking price. This was slightly up on the first quarter.

John Loos, property strategist for FNB Home Loans, said agents cited increased interest rates as the number one cause for the slow down, but included economic and political uncertainty.

In contrast to analysts who have said it is too soon to start piling back into the market, Loos said this was a good time to buy - and getting better all the time.

"Interest rates may be high now, but they also eventually go down. If you can afford to buy a property, the opportunity to buy should be looking good in the next quarter," he said.