Property buyers back in market

Tamlyn Stewart

Tamlyn Stewart

"For Sale" signs attracted a bit more interest in the last three months of last year, according to a FNB's property barometer released yesterday.

Estate agents rated the level of demand at 4,6 out of 10, up from a rating of 4,1 in the previous three-month period.

The survey found that the market seemed to gain some confidence from the end of interest rate hikes in the third quarter.

Herschel Jawitz of Jawitz Properties agreed that the expected decline in interest rates this year had revived flagging interest in the residential property market.

"We've seen better activity at the beginning of this year than in the last six months of last year.

"Lots of buyers are back in the market," said Jawitz.

But it's still a buyer's market, and buyers know it, agents said.

"Downscaling" due to financial pressure was the biggest reason for selling in the last quarter of 2008, according to agents, followed by emigration, downsizing, and changes in family structure.

Rob Stefanutto of Lew Geffen said homeowners were selling because of financial pressure.

"The other reason is that a lot of property was sold to speculators as an investment vehicle. They are now out of the market."

Stefanutto said foreigners affected by the credit crunch were also looking to sell their second homes in South Africa to access that equity to pay off their mortgages in their home countries.

The report warned that low economic growth and further job losses this year were likely to continue to weigh on the property market in the coming months.