South Africa is moving towards a graded system, to determine how strict its lockdown restrictions will be as it continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, while re-igniting the economy.
Government has published a document with the full details of South Africa’s lockdown levels, here.
The document has raised a number of questions around freedom of movement, and the ability to try to get back to some semblance of normalcy. One question asked by many relates to whether people are able to move house under level 4 restrictions.
BusinessTech asked property expert, Richard Gray, the chief executive officer of Harcourts South Africa.
“My understanding is that as it stands right now, people will not be able to move houses. The Level 4 restrictions don’t make any allowance for it. We are hoping that this changes as representations from ourselves and other industry bodies have been sent to the Minister for his consideration,” Gray said.
Homes continue to sell
Berry Everitt, chief executive officer of the Chas Everitt International property group, said that while show-days and private home viewings are not possible right now, home buying has not stopped and in fact is likely to pick up in the wake of the latest interest rate cuts.
“In fact our agents have already been able to facilitate scores of ‘lockdown deals’ using our top technologies and international best practices. These include sales at prices from R600,000 all the way up to R35 million, and in places as diverse as Still Bay and Benoni, Hermanus and Hyde Park, Plumstead and Pretoria,” Everitt said.
One reason for the continued activity, he said, is the fact that prospective buyers who have to stay at home are spending more time browsing property portals and websites for somewhere new to live.
According to international property analyst Mike DelPrete, this is evident from the fact that the local property portals, along with others around the world, have seen a recovery in the amount of traffic they receive since an initial drop of up to 40% in mid-March.
“Some people are realizing that their current homes are actually too small for their families, others are seeking to downsize to cut maintenance and municipal charges, and some have decided they really no longer wish to rent. In addition, the most astute real estate investors are already moving to maximise the opportunities that the current market presents.”
Secondly, said Everitt, most agents in the group were well-prepared overall to immediately switch to working from home full-time.
“They have as a result been able to adapt very easily to ‘going virtual’ and using only technology to stay in touch with their clients, connect buyers and sellers, handle nationwide referrals and continue their training through our fully-fledged online academy.
“This is what is enabling them to conclude sales even though viewings and show-days are currently off the table, and the Deeds Office is not currently open to register the transfers.
“Our good relationships with the financial institutions and top legal firms mean that our agents are also able to assist with bond applications and rental queries – and to get all the sales documentation finalised and ready for transfer as soon as that service is available.”
Gray said that Harcourts has also developed and implemented strategies to ensure real estate remains buoyant during the lockdown.
“We have transitioned all our traditional business practices into a fully-fledged digital offering. Functioning as an online agency and providing all the necessary services to our clients. Some of our technologies include a complete virtual experience.
“This has proven very successful and we have concluded many deals during the lockdown with this offering,” he said.