February oobarometer shows annual house prices still falling

Posted On Thursday, 12 March 2009 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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The latest oobarometer shows that annual house prices fell a further 0.7% in February this year.

Saul Geffen

“Property prices continue to fall in the tough economic climate,” said Saul Geffen, chief executive of ooba (formerly MortgageSA). The average purchase price was at R833,461 in February 2008 compared to R827,553 in February 2009. ooba recently forecast that the current low level of activity in the property market and negative property price growth with continue until mid 2009.
 
“We expect to see house prices decline further before they begin a recovery in early 2010,” stated Geffen. “Already the 1.5% drop in interest rates has improved affordability and further interest rate cuts should speed up the property market recovery.”

However, the month-on-month average purchase price has risen 6.2% from January to February.
“This, however, is not an indication of the recovery of the property market”, says Geffen. 
“We have seen an shift in weighting to more expensive properties which suggests that higher-income individuals are less sensitive to the economic woes and conservative bank lending practices.”
Banks continue to restrict lending which has effects on both the average bank decline ratio as well as the ratio of applications declined by one lender but approved by another.

The average bank decline ratio has jumped to 61.2% which is severely constraining any property market recovery. This means on average across the banks, 60% of all home loan applications where a willing buyer has tried to buy a home, are being rejected outright.

And the ratio of applications declined by one lender but approved by another has decreased to 20.3% of all applications, compared with of last year’s 38.6%.

“Banks have severely tightened lending since December, and these policies, if not relaxed soon are likely to have a further dampening effect on the property market,” said Geffen.

“Banks are also demanding significantly higher deposits as a percentage of purchase price,” Geffen noted.

The year-on-year average deposit as percentage of purchase price is up by 46.9%. On average, in February 2009, property buyers were required to put down 24.1% deposit on the property they were purchasing compared to 16.4% recorded the year before.

“Estate agents are reporting a marked increase in activity since the beginning of the year. Buyers know the market is at, or near, a bottom, and with the interest rates coming down, demand and therefore prices will start to recover in the short term. “The only wild card is the bank lending policies which could create a vicious cycle,” concluded Geffen.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 09:52

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