Friday, 16 December 2011

SA property value still excites expats

South Africa is among the top 20 most popular destinations in the world for expatriates, and one of the main reasons is because SA real estate still offers really excellent value for money, despite sharp house price declines in other countries over the past few years.
According to the latest Expat Explorer survey by international bank HSBC, South Africa ranks 14th out of 100 countries included, in terms of the economic benefits it offers expats and their overall experience of life in SA.
And from our own experience we can confirm that foreign immigrants to SA and those who are posted here to work on contract for a few years are generally excited by how much real estate their money can buy here in comparison to other popular expat destinations around the world.
For example, even in the US, which was ranked 11th in popularity among expats as against SA’s 14th placing, the average home price at the moment is around US$170 000 - or about R1,4m at current exchange rates, while SA’s current average, according to Absa, is about R1,1m.
In the UK (ranked 27th), the average house price is currently the equivalent of about R2m and in the most popular European countries such as Germany (ranked 28), France (29), Italy (30) and the Netherlands (31), prices for average properties range between about R40 000/sqm to about R146 000/sqm, compared with the average of R28 000/sqm for a medium-size home in SA.
In the other BRICS countries – all of which were ranked well below SA in the HSBC survey – property prices currently range from around R24 000/sqm in Brazil to R109 000/sqm in Russia, according to the latest information available from the Global Property Guide, www.globalpropertyguide.com.
As for Thailand, which was ranked as the number one choice of destination by the respondents to this year’s HSBC survey, the average home cost is currently actually the same as in SA at around R28 000/sqm.
But the housing market in the country is still very underdeveloped and there are huge discrepancies between the various areas. A small three-bedroom townhouse in the coastal resort of Pattaya would cost the equivalent of about R560 000 at current exchange rates, for example, and a modest three-bedroom, two-bathroom home on the popular retirement island of Phuket would cost the equivalent of about R800 000, which compares favourably with SA.
However in the main cities of Bangkok or Chiang Mai, where most working expatriates would need to be based, it would cost anywhere between about R1,6m and R2,8m to buy a three-bedroom flat big enough for a family.
*Lew Geffen is the chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty in SA.


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