South African consumers could be getting a break

Jul 17, 2018 8:39:58 PM Share this:

We welcome the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that Government will in two weeks’ time announce a package of economic measures to cushion the public from the devastating effects of high fuel price hikes and the VAT increase.

"As salaries are usually only increased annually, the consumer has to juggle unforeseeable market fluctuations on a perpetual basis, making it very difficult to adhere to a budget and plan investments,” says Gray. Richard Gray, Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer, says according to media reports, Ramaphosa was addressing business and government leaders in Pretoria ahead of the BRICS Summit this month. The President said a panel of various stakeholders from the economic cluster has been tasked with drafting the package. “It is an immediate necessity that consumer pressures on South Africans be addressed in a strategic and detailed plan. Therefore it is a welcome relief that president Ramaphosa said Government will be announcing a package of measures to ease the burden of the price increase, which will include the finalisation of the VAT-exempt products,” says Gray.

“The continuous rise of expenses on South Africans has led to many people stagnant in a consumer price pinch. We have certainly witnessed it in the property sector, with some locations slowing down completely as buyers turn to renting as a means to bide time and monitor the economic climate.”

He says even in high LSM markets the property market has slowed down. Analysing properties sold for the last 12 months (April 2017 to March 2018) along the Atlantic Seaboard registered with the Deeds Office, which includes both sectional and full titles, the region has undoubtedly experienced a cooling period after the drastic growth of the past few years.

“Unfortunately, consumers are directly impacted by tax increases due to our participation in a multitude of industries. We’re economically active, and as purchasers of an array of products and services we feel the knock-on effects of the suppliers who have to make changes in order to buffer the impact on their businesses,” says Gray.

“The rise of fuel costs as well as the increase in VAT has undoubtedly put pressure on the man on the street. As salaries are usually only increased annually, the consumer has to juggle unforeseeable market fluctuations on a perpetual basis, making it very difficult to adhere to a budget and plan investments.”


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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, President Ramaphosa, South African Markets, South African Consumers

Harcourts welcome President Ramaphosa's economic package announcement today

Jul 12, 2018 12:17:57 AM Share this:

We welcome the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that Government will in two weeks’ time announce a package of economic measures to cushion the public from the devastating effects of high fuel price hikes and the VAT increase. Ramaphosa was addressing business and government leaders in Pretoria this morning ahead of the BRICS Summit this month. The President said a panel of various stakeholders from the economic cluster has been tasked with drafting the package.

It is an immediate necessity that consumer pressures on South Africans be addressed in a strategic and detailed plan. Therefore it is a welcome relief that president Ramaphosa said Government will be announcing a package of measures to ease the burden of the price increase, which will include the finalisation of the VAT exempt products.

The continuous rise of expenses on South Africans has led to many people stagnant in a consumer price pinch. We have certainly witnessed it in the property sector. With some locations slowing down completely as buyers turn to renting as a means to bide time and monitor the economic climate.

Even in high LSM markets the property market has slowed down. Analysing properties sold for the last 12 months along the Atlantic Seaboard, April 2017 to March 2018, registered with the Deeds Office, which includes both sectional and full titles, the region has undoubtedly experienced a cooling period after the drastic growth of the past few years. 

Unfortunately consumers are directly impacted by tax increases due to our participation in a multitude of industries. We’re economically active and as purchasers of an array of products and services we feel the knock on effects of the suppliers. Who have to make changes in order to buffer the impact on their businesses.

The rise of fuel costs as well as the increase in VAT has undoubtedly put pressure on the man on the street. As salaries are usually only increased annually, the consumer has to juggle unforeseeable market fluctuations on a perpetual basis. Making it very difficult to adhere to a budget and plan investments.
Statement by

Richard Gray
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer
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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Consumers Under Pressure, President Ramaphosa, South African Markets

Harcourts' continued South African growth cemented in market understanding and culture

Jul 2, 2018 6:42:26 PM Share this:

Although South Africa's economy has been under pressure in recent years with rising costs placing consumers in a price pinch, compounded by volatile market fluctuations causing unpredictable cyclical trends - Harcourts South Africa experienced unprecedented growth over this same period. Sales have grown 115% in the past five years, the amount of agents have doubled and 2017 was Harcourts' most successful year on record.


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Innovative technology, real estate technology, Harcourts Growth

Real Estate unites to fight cancer

Jun 28, 2018 6:14:51 PM Share this:
There is no doubt real estate is a highly competitive industry, but when one of our own is in need, we come together as a family. This was evident in the recent event organised by Dykes van Heerden attorneys for Jeané Myburgh, the daughter of Harcourts South Africa General Manager Jan Myburgh. 

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 6 months ago, at the age of 21. The cancer continued to spread and she now needs to go through the next phase of treatment. The treatment thus far has drained their medical funds. This is why Dykes van Heerden attorneys decided to hold a fundraising event in the form of a corporate triathlon challenge.

It was very impressive to see a multitude of real estate role players unite to fight for this cause. "This story touched every single one us. The human spirit got us all together. It was not about the scoreboard this time but rather for something that is much bigger than that – a life of an inspiring and special young woman who is fighting for her life," said Lisa Boniface, Conveyancing Attorney at Dykes, van Heerden.

The event, held on 21 June in Durban, consisted of a 5km run on Durban promenade, a mile swim at Kings Park pool and a 30km bicycle ride starting at Bike & Bean. The official results were; Harcourts in first place, Seeff in second and Pam Golding third. Although, very little emphasis was put on the result but rather the cause.

Harcourts South Africa CEO Richard Gray was proud to be in attendance and see the real estate community come together the way they did. "It was truly an inspiring spectacle. To see everyone in this industry join hands to fight a worthy cause and assist this young woman with the greatest battle of her life was humbling. Jan and his family are so special, and to see the joy on Jeané's face throughout the day inspired us all even more."

Jan Myburgh certainly is a stalwart in real estate and it was amazing to see the industry he has devoted his life to, assist him and his family during these times. "Many people in the real estate game have been touched in one way or another by Jan Myburgh. He has either been a life/business coach or mentor, a manager, a trainer, an MC, a friend, or a partner. He has been an inspiration to us all and therefore we were happy to assist in the Myburgh family's time of need," concluded Boniface. #BlueForYou

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Real Estate Agents, Jan Myburgh, Cancer, Ovarian Cancer

Countering the rise of property scammers

Jun 12, 2018 9:46:43 PM Share this:

Countering the rise of property scammers


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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Tips for Agents, Real Estate Agents, Scam Alert

Increased lending positive for property market

May 2, 2018 10:54:48 PM Share this:
Statistics released by bond originator, ooba, in their latest "oobarometer" for the first quarter of 2018, reflecting banks increased willingness to lend money is fantastic news for the real estate market in South Africa.  

According to ooba  in the first quarter of 2018 they recorded the highest home loan approval rate in over ten years since the National Credit Act was implemented. With an increase of 4.9% compared to the first quarter of 2017.

These figures are certainly reflected in the market we're experiencing. This improved lending appetite will play a particularly important role influencing consumer confidence. After the market fluctuations and economic instability of 2017 the stabilization of 2018 thus far is reinforcing buyer interest and much needed investment activity. The current political climate continues to re-instill hope in the broader economy.

Another exciting sentiment shared by the report states that banks are increasingly more willing to lend the full value of a property without requiring a deposit. The average deposit over the entire market decreased by 6.4% year-on-year. For many first-time buyers the need for a sizeable deposit and stricter lending criteria implemented over the past few years greatly influenced the decision to buy. Having to apply for another loan to cover the deposit amount might put affordability of the home out of reach.

There are still corners of the market that remain under pressure and will continue to do so, however with the information emanating from ooba's report, both buyers and sellers are expected to benefit from this improved activity.

From a holistic perspective we're definitely dealing with a buyer's market, yet with banks letting go of the reigns more buyers will enter the market and create greater demand which ultimately leads to a far more beneficial environment for everyone.

Statement by
Richard Gray
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer
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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Property Markets, Buyers market, Ooba

Harcourts International’s Todd Cassie named to CIO100 list

May 2, 2018 6:30:30 PM Share this:
Todd Cassie, Harcourts International’s Head of Technology, has been featured by CIO magazine as a member of the CIO100 list. The list annually honours the most innovative technology leaders across all industries who are at the forefront of decision-making and strategic change.

Mr Cassie said that it was an honour to be included in the list and credited the recognition to the team members at Harcourts for their dedication to excellence and unrelenting focus on leading the way in the industry.

“It’s always great to be recognised for the work you do, but it’s a team effort,” he said. “For Harcourts it’s recognition as a potential place to work for those that are considering a change and recognition that we have a dedicated tech function that is reasonably large and is working hard to deliver great customer outcomes.”

"The success of Harcourts International's technology projects greatly influence the South African business prerogatives. Technology development and the evolution of the real estate market to include modern technological feats is of utmost importance to us. Our key strategic departments work non-stop researching ways to greatly improve client experience, product delivery to target markets and office/agent communication. Mr Cassie has certainly been a pillar of leadership in these advancements,"  said Harcourts South Africa CEO, Richard Gray.

Harcourts International Managing Director Mike Green said, “Starting with examining how Harcourts delivers technology throughout the business to its internal team, the business owners, sales consultants, property managers and leadership, Todd’s vision has seen tremendous strides over the past year.”

Since joining Harcourts one year ago, Mr Cassie has led the process of change in the way the Tech Team operates, with team members in Australia and New Zealand, noting that efficiencies and capabilities were enhanced and streamlined.

“For me the greatest accomplishment this past year has been the Tech Team accepting the need for change and getting on with it. Our greatest challenge now is to keep up the momentum as we continue to make changes because it’s not always evident without an instant return for your efforts.

“Harcourts has a proud history of using technology to deliver innovations to the industry that dates to the late 90s,” said Mr Cassie, noting that Harcourts was the first real estate brand to launch a website in New Zealand in 1997.

“Although that concept seems obvious, at the time it was revolutionary, and you can imagine the difference in the technology 20 years ago.

“Our focus is and continues to be on our clients. By maintaining this focus, we have a perfect yardstick to measure ourselves against as we continue our development lifecycle.”

Mr Cassie has worked in technology for over 20 years across a broad range of industries in New Zealand, Australia, the UK & Canada, and is a member of ISACA and Deloitte CIO Roundtable. Most recently he spent the 12 years working with the Christchurch International Airport where, in 2016, he was named to the CIO100 list.

It was the draw of working with New Zealand’s #1 real estate franchise network that brought him to Harcourts, where he now oversees robust technology team servicing 10 countries across over 900 offices and 10,000 team members.

He noted that Harcourts was one of the first real estate brands worldwide to partner with Facebook and launch its enterprise employee engagement application Workplace by Facebook. By supporting initiatives and involving outside developers, the company has seen success in the early stages of the project.

“Finding new and unique ways to do things that gives us a competitive advantage, especially ones that other real estate brands aren’t doing and being first to the market is a different way of thinking,” said Mr Cassie.
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Topics: Technology, Harcourts South Africa, Harcourts International, CIO100 list, Innovative technology

Agricultural sector fertile with problems

Apr 16, 2018 6:35:51 PM Share this:

Drought takes severe toll on farming property market

The next few months will be testing for the Western Cape’s agricultural property sector as it struggles to stand steadfast in the face of unrelenting pressure from the ongoing drought, which has severely hit the region.

Some markets are already suffering declines while others are reported to be surviving the challenges.

All agricultural commodities in the province are struggling due to the water crisis. Carl Opperman, chief executive of Agri Western Cape, says damage is so far estimated at R14billion.

In the livestock sector, grazing and feed shortages have already resulted in massive culling, and harvest prospects for the deciduous sector are showing decreases in crop volumes. This is resulting in both the import and export markets taking strain.

“The industry is an important generator of valuable foreign currency inflow, which is now also under pressure. The estimate for the viniculture sector shows smaller crops than 2017. Grain yields have been far below average, with no yields at all in certain areas. 

“Agriculture’s water supply has been curtailed by between 60% and 83%. In the Lower-Berg River region, producers’ water quota has been depleted.  No water is available for the after-crop irrigation of orchards and vineyards, and this will have an effect on next year’s harvest,” says Opperman.

The drought is a major risk for the Western Cape agricultural economy.

This phenomenon has been a major factor in agricultural property performance in the parts of the country worst affected, especially the Western Cape, where it has “kept a lid” on prices over the past few years, says Joop Coetzee of RealNet Plotte & Plase. Despite this, demand for small holdings is “vibrant” and interest in large farms has “picked up”.

In addition, even though Coetzee says the agricultural property market was quiet in the last quarter of 2017, it has “revived substantially” since political and presidential changes.

Land claims have also been an issue in the market for years, but sales have not slowed since the Land Expropriation Without Compensation motion was passed in Parliament, he says, adding there has also not been a rush of owners wanting to sell farms.

“It remains to be seen if this scenario will change over the next six months, but there is a belief land reformation will proceed in an orderly, considered and legal manner so as not to threaten the country’s food security or the financial institutions that support the agricultural sector. Consequently we do not foresee a decline in interest. Serious farmers will always be interested in good land.”

Although the land reform proposals have not yet resulted in any noticeable reduction in interest shown in the larger commercial farms either, Daniel Joubert, agricultural property specialist at Harcourts Winelands, says the very dry conditions have had a significant impact on the market. This is because their value is directly related to irrigation water availability and supply volumes.

“Farms are sought after in areas with a good water supply as opposed to areas in which supply has been restricted.”

Joubert says, for the first time, agricultural water supply has been restricted in many areas this year. It has created a new baseline of water security on these properties and this is adversely affecting their desirability. Buyers in the commercial segment are focusing their interests on those areas not been affected by water restrictions, and this has led to properties in these areas being in demand.

Currently, the market for smaller lifestyle farms is also slow, says his colleague James Visser, attributing this to political uncertainty and widely-publicised farm security issues.


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Agricultural, Harcourts Midlands

Avoiding the impact of VAT on your property payments

Apr 10, 2018 9:24:49 PM Share this:

A lot has been said about the increase in VAT from 14% to 15% as announced by the Finance Minister in his recent budget speech. There are certainly many sectors that are going to feel the shift in tax, however it might be the man and woman on the street who will be hit hardest.

Unfortunately consumers are directly impacted by tax increases due to our participation in a multitude of industries. We’re economically active and as purchasers of an array of products and services we feel the knock on effects of the suppliers. Who have to make changes in order to buffer the impact on their businesses.

Undoubtedly for the tenant and home owner food costs, as well as recent petrol price hikes, will influence affordability and budgets. For some the VAT increase might only be a few rand, for others it could be thousands.

It is imperative that you start adjusting and analysing the potential impact different expenditure increases will have on your budget. It is always better to be prepared than caught by surprise and then being forced to make last minute changes.

By having insight into budget amendments you will have the advantage of adjusting certain payments to account for increases. Cut down on unnecessary and wasteful expenses so that you continue being able to pay your bills or even fortunately save a little every month.

If you’re renting - now might be the best time to consider purchasing a property. With interest rates cut by 25 basis points, bringing the repo rate to 6.5% and the prime lending rate of banks to 10%, your value on monthly property expenditure might be more in your favour if you buy now.


Statement by
Richard Gray
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer


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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Financial Year End, Property Markets, Vat Increase

Repo rate good news for the property market

Apr 3, 2018 8:43:22 PM Share this:

The decision by South Africa’s Reserve Bank to cut its repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5%, after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting today,  Wednesday, March 28, will provide much needed relief to the consumer who is generally highly indebted. The knock-on affects of this rate cut should take the prime lending rate of banks to 10%. International ratings agency Moody's stable outlook for South Africa certainly influenced this decision by the MPC.

We believe this signals the turning point in the interest rate cycle. With the Rand relatively strong and inflation at its lowest level for several years, this is hopefully the first of a few cuts in 2018.

South Africans have experienced continuous economic pressures in recent times. Consumers have been in a price pinch with rising costs, increased taxes, heightened unemployment and economic instability.

So, in short, the repo rate cut is very good news. There will definitely be a direct impact on reduced repayments with regards to household debt. Furthermore, we predict an increase in consumer confidence and real estate demand over the short to medium term.

Increased consumer confidence influences a multitude of other markets and sectors and with increased economic activity from a holistic perspective South Africa's path to further economic stability becomes a closer beacon.

Creating favourable conditions for investors and buyers to enter the market is a priority. An environment conducive to financial and economic positivity ensures there are more entrants from a larger diversity of backgrounds. In addition, for those who are already active in the market this translates into higher investment returns and a far reaching trust in the country's economic stability.

Statement by
Richard Gray
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer


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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, repo rate cut, repo rate