Housing market favours first-time buyers – report

Johannesburg, Oct 19 (I-Net Bridge) – Residential home prices fell slightly from last year, but purchase prices for first-time home buyers increased by 6%, according to a new report. The mixed numbers reflected changing demographics and increased demand for small properties. 

According to bond-originating firm Ooba, the average house price decreased by 2% from September last year, from about R856,000 to R839,000. The average purchase price for first-time buyers increased from R585,000 to R620,000 during the same period. 

Ooba CEO Saul Geffen attributed increased activity from first-time buyers to the emerging black middle class, combined with low interest rates and decreased deposit requirements. He also said increased municipal and utilities tariffs caused home buyers to choose smaller properties. 

“The rising costs of home ownership and the changing economic and racial demographics amongst home buyers are influencing demand at the lower to middle end of the housing market,” he said. 

More than half of Ooba-bond applicants are first-time home buyers, and nearly half of applicants are black, the report said. 

Although housing prices fell overall, average bond size increased 6%, reflecting a drop in deposit requirements by one-third. The average deposit requirement fell to 12.7% of purchase price. 

“This is a significant improvement from the levels seen in 2009, and opens up a considerably broader homebuyer base who can now afford the lower deposit requirements,” Geffen said. 

Nearly a quarter of accepted applicants were previously rejected by another lender, a drop from 30% in September 2010. 

The report also found a 1.1% increase in average purchase price from August 2011. Geffen expected slight positive and negative shifts such as this for the rest of the year.

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