The Harcourts real estate group is going from strength to strength in South Africa, having achieved growth on every front in the past 12 months.
“We added 12 new offices to the group in 2014,” says CEO Richard Gray, “and achieved a 12% increase in agent numbers, which is outstanding considering that the overall number of practising agents in SA continues to decline.”
And on the back of this growth, the total value of home sales facilitated by Harcourts has grown by more than 30% in the past 12 months – compared to the industry average growth rate of 18%.
“What is more,” he says, “we didn’t just sell more properties, we sold them at an higher average price, that is an average of R1,055m in the 2014/15 financial year compared to an average of R965 000 in the 2013/14 period.”
Gray says these results were helped by the fact that demand exceeded supply in many areas in the second half of the year, and by the steep decline in fuel prices that put more money in consumer pockets and gave them more confidence about buying property.
“However, they also speak to the high calibre of our existing agency owners, principals and agents, and to our ability to keep attracting entrepreneurs and top performing agents into the group.”
Turning to the coming 12 months, he says affordability should continue to be improved by low oil prices and relatively low interest rates at least until the second half of 2015.
In addition, it is expected that many more new developments will actually be completed and start coming on to the market this year, which will give homebuyers a wider choice of properties to buy and speed up sales while at the same time preventing prices from rising too fast.
“Nevertheless, the market has now definitely shifted from a buyers’ market to a sellers’ market and we, like most of the banks, anticipate that nominal house price growth will reach double digits this year for the first time since the 2008/09 recession.”