Antonie Goosen, principal and founder of Meridian Realty
“With the SA Reserve Bank (Sarb) recently hiking the repo rate by 25 basis points to 3.75%, placing the prime lending rate at 7.25%, the first repo rate hike in nearly three years, there will be some pressure on homeowners, but it would be premature to increase rates again in 2022.
“South Africa’s economic outlook is not looking strong, with the July unrest, the pandemic and ongoing energy supply constraints still having negative effects on investor confidence and job creation. The hike in the repo rate might have been premature, inflation was flat for the past couple of months, and we need the repo rate to stay at low levels to support growth in the economy. Globally, central banks are supporting economic growth and I am hoping that the Sarb does the same in 2022 and that we will not see another hike in the repo rate,” says Goosen.
He says if the prime lending rate stays at the current levels, and employers continue to give the flexibility to work remotely, there will be continued demand for home buying. “Also, the ability of some to work from anywhere and the pursuit of a better work-life balance, will allow for the trend of people opting to relocate their families out of cities to smaller towns to continue in 2022. Housing stock shortages in the preferred new places will then also continue.
Sonja Thielen, property specialist for Meridian in the Stellenbosch area, says she is seeing the heated pace of sales that was seen in 2021 beginning to show signs of moderation and that home buying will level off, but it will help to increase the number of homes for purchase.
“With more stock on the market, prices should moderate marginally and the balance between sellers and buyers will become more normal. The higher interest rates could also result in a drop in prospective new purchasers and if inflation does not abate and there is another rate increase, it will take a toll on affordability,” says Thielen
Goosen says he is expecting the trend of new property technology innovations to continue in 2022 and even pick up speed. “Property tech is starting to transform the industry and many processes will become digital. Already we are seeing the rental property industry starting to change the mindset from being rental agents to becoming rental asset managers. With software available from companies like WeconnectU, they can act like asset managers who have the tools and software to deliver the monitored returns you would come to expect from a financial professional who manages money and securities on behalf of a client, with the goal of growing the value of the assets,” says Goosen.
He says the trend of digital services will continue to grow and create efficiencies to allow property professionals to focus solely on the interpersonal aspect of the business. “At Meridian Realty we have customer relationship management (CRM) software system that helps to nurture relationships with potential buyers and sellers, connecting all data from sales leads and customers in one place.
“In 2022, CRM systems will be a growing trend. It contains contact information, purchase history, enquires, sales opportunities, and even marketing campaigns can be managed with the technology. A CRM system can increase real estate sales with end-to-end sales execution introducing new efficiencies into the real estate industry,” says Goosen.
He says with more millennials becoming homebuyers, the trend of touring properties virtually will grow. “Investments in high-quality photography, virtual tours and short films of the neighbourhood to provide buyers with a true sense of where they will be living will be a growing trend. We will continue to see more investors embracing 3D virtual tours. I think 3D is just scratching the surface of what is possible and in the coming years, I am expecting most properties to have a 3D tour for clients,” concludes Goosen.