Despite entering lockdown with a substantial oversupply of properties and slow to non-existent price growth in certain segments, things are looking up for the Helderberg property market. This according to Schalk van der Merwe, franchisee for the Rawson Properties Helderberg Group.
“Since real estate transactions were allowed to resume under Level 3 lockdown, our franchise has concluded 111 sales with a combined value of R206 million,” he says. “That’s a 47% increase on the same time last year, and an incredible rebound after a long period of subdued market activity.”
Van der Merwe says both the affordable and luxury residential markets have seen higher levels of activity than before Covid-19 hit. Residential stock levels have dropped by 4%, suggesting a slow reversal of the previous oversupply trend. Buyer enquiries have also remained constant, putting paid to concerns that the boost in activity may be a short-lived reaction to lockdown’s restrictions.
Things on the rental front are a little less rosy, however.
“Rentals have had the opposite experience to sales, post-lockdown,” says Van der Merwe. “There has been a 30% increase in stock levels, and a lot of worried investors sitting with vacant properties.”
Commercial properties, too, have come under pressure thanks to the effects of lockdown on businesses and the economy. Van der Merwe says commercials sales stock has increased by 10%, and rentals stock by 15% since earlier this year.
Despite the very different experiences of residential and commercial sales and rentals, Van der Merwe says owners and investors in the Helderberg would all be well-served by following the same advice.
“We’re seeing a lot of property owners and investors acting from a place of fear at the moment,” he says. “That’s understandable – they’ve been inundated with doom and gloom market predictions and spent a long time under Level Four and Five lockdown completely powerless to act to protect their property interests.
“If I could offer these property owners one piece of advice, it would be to set aside both their fear and their expectations. Rather, enlist the help of a property expert who can cut through the mixed messages and confusion and use concrete market data to assist them in making informed property decisions based on today’s reality.”
Accepting a new reality is something Van der Merwe says everyone active in property will have to do.
“The old normal is gone,” he says. “There’s no point mourning it’s loss when we can use this as an opportunity to create a faster, safer and more modern property industry.”
In this, Van der Merwe says technology will continue to be pivotal, having proved its potential for creating a more efficient – and often convenient – property experience during lockdown. However, he says technology can never replace the personal experience and knowledge of property professionals, or their ability to support their clients in both the emotional and intellectual aspects of property transactions.
“Property is an investment, but it’s also about connecting people with shelter,” says Van der Merwe. “It’s a basic human necessity, and we need to remain sensitive to that, particularly in this uncertain, post-pandemic world.”
“I think the ‘new normal’ for property professionals is going to be about finding a balance between the conveniences and security of technology, and providing the kind of personal insight and support our clients need to face whatever the future brings without fear.”