Friday, 15 April 2011

Rental Property to improve this year

While data availability for the South African rental market is somewhat sparse, available indicators suggest some improvement in the fundamentals driving the rental market, the FNB property barometer indicates.

"It is difficult to determine the level of rental demand, but we believe that the current economic and financial times may have led to some improvement in the demand side of the rental market too," said FNB property strategist John Loos.

He said household sector financial pressure could be a positive factor for the rental market, because it could increase the short-term appeal of renting for a certain group of financially stretched households.

The risks of interest rate hikes later in 2011 were also believed to be a positive for rental demand, as this could lead to some more cautious would-be home buyers adopting a "wait and see" approach, remaining in the rental market for longer and supporting rental demand.

"Our home-buying survey respondents suggest that, although having declined significantly since 2008-09, the percentage of home sellers selling in order to downscale due to financial pressure remains high at about 22%, and many of these sellers move into the rental market," Loos said.

As to how much of the rental market's performance was due to supply factors and how much due to demand-side forces was debatable, Loos said. "We believe that there are elements of both, particularly on the supply side due to weak buy-to-let buying in recent times. The net result, though, appears to be one of mild rental market strengthening through 2010."

Using data from Rode and Associates regarding flat rentals, it would appear that at least the flats component of the rental market had responded, Loos said.

"By major city, while one saw no fireworks yet, our calculations of flat rental averages per major city showed a broad increase in market rental inflation rates since the 2009 slump. The two-quarter moving average for Johannesburg showed the most impressive increase of 16.2% year on year as at the fourth quarter of 2010, while Pretoria showed the slowest rate of increase of 5.5%," he said.


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