How many South Africans have second homes and why they buy them

The estimated percentage of home buying believed to be secondary property buying in South Africa has shown some recovery in recent quarters says FNB.

Secondary property buying relates to holiday homes, homes for use by a relative, or buy-to-let homes.

From a multi-year high of 14.14% of total home buying in the final quarter of 2014, the estimated percentage of secondary home buying reached a 10.84% low by the 2nd quarter of 2016, according to the FNB Estate Agent Survey.

More recently, however, that percentage has risen to 14.47% by the first quarter of 2017.

“This is interesting, given a recently very flat economic period with very little growth and weak consumer confidence in recent years,” said John Loos, household and property sector strategist at FNB.

“However, it must be borne in mind that interest rate hiking stalled a year ago, which can gradually boost confidence somewhat, and there has been talk in some circles of possible interest rate cutting, although cutting is not our core view at FNB,” he said.

In addition, the SARB and OECD Leading Business Cycle Indicators have pointed to an improved economic growth performance emerging, and perhaps this rise is starting to be reflective of that.

Read: South Africa’s buy-to-let market is mediocre: analyst

Secondary home buying is non-essential in nature, and as such tends to be more cyclical than primary residential demand, falling as a percentage of total buying in deteriorating economic and interest rate times and vice versa, Loos said.

“This mild increase in the percentage of secondary home buying may, therefore, be a reflection of recent signs of improvement in the economy going into 2017, on top of the lengthy period of no further interest rate hiking,” he said.

Which secondary home buying motives are the key drivers?

Buy-to-let home buying remains as usual the major driver of secondary home demand, accounting for 9.5% of total home buying in the 1st quarter 2017 FNB Estate Agent Survey.

This is slightly higher than the 8.41% of the previous quarter, and while quarter to quarter movements can be volatile, recent buy-to-let estimates have remained mildly elevated from the multi-year low of 7.52% reached in the 2nd quarter of 2016.

Holiday home buying also rose, said FNB.

In the 1st quarter of 2017 survey the estimated percentage of holiday home buying was 3.77% of total buying. Holiday home buying is always a smaller number than buy-to-let buying, but this percentage has risen since the multi-year low of 1.77% reached in the final quarter of 2015.

The 3rd secondary home buying category, i.e. buying a home for a family member or relative to live in, hovers at around 1%.

As a percentage of total individually-owned properties identified, secondary properties make up an estimated 16.24% as at January 2017, FNB said.

This percentage has risen very slightly from 16.2% as at January 2016, with year-on-year growth being a small but positive +0.23%, compared to a slightly negative -0.02% in January a year ago.

“Some increase in secondary home buying can perhaps be justified by signs of an improving economy in the early stages of 2017, while interest rates stopped rising in March a year ago,” said Loos

“However, we don’t expect fireworks in secondary home markets. While there certainly have been signs of economic improvement to come, South Africa’s myriad of structural economic constraints lead us to expect an economic growth improvement in 2017 to not far above 1%, which would remain a mediocre number.”

Read: Big changes South African property-owners need to watch out for in 2017

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How many South Africans have second homes and why they buy them