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17 August 2006

Building frenzy slows
Moneyweb.co.za - South Africa
Building activity in the residential space slowed in June this year, adding to the list of indicators showing that the housing market has lost its lustre.

Stats SA reported on Wednesday that the number of units completed in the second quarter slowed by 6,5% (year-on-year), compared with 5,4% growth recorded in the first quarter.

Growth in the number of plans passed per unit dropped even more dramatically, from 30,5% (year-on-year) in the first quarter to a decline of 3,4% in the second quarter.

The numbers are consistent with house price indices from both ABSA and Standard Bank, that reflect a slowdown in house price inflation.
Moneyweb.co.za

Home rentals set to rise
Fin24.co.za - South Africa
Letting agents are already reporting increased demand for rental accommodation on the back of the recent two half-percentage-point interest rate increases, which could see the market revert to the traditional 10%/year rental escalations sooner rather than later.

Few buy-to-let investors have been able to pass the standard 10% rental increases on to tenants when leases came up for renewal, as an oversupply of rental properties kept a tight lid on rental growth.

However, the fortunes of buy-to-let investors are likely to change for the better over the next few months as affordability issues force potential homeowners to put buying plans on hold, says Jack Trevena, MD of home loan originator BondExcel.
Fin24.co.za

The beast is back
Financial Mail - South Africa
Home owners, developers and investors can put on their hats and coats and leave: the party's over for the residential property market.

Data from the big banks shows year-on-year housing capital gains continuing at between 13,5% (ABSA) and 6% (Standard Bank) - far below the 35% of 2004 . . . and last year.

But read further into their statistics and you will see that prices adjusted for inflation are on their way to negative territory. ABSA's latest price index shows real house prices rising just 0,1% month on month. Standard Bank says nominal prices will stop rising by year-end.

The lag in property between deal and data means that the slowdown in prices started before the interest rates rises of June and August.
Financial Mail

'Good response' to land-reform initiative
Mail and Guardian - South Africa
A decision to seize white-owned land if negotiations linger or end in deadlock is paying off with more and more farmers accepting the price offered by the state, a top land official said on Wednesday.

"These farmers have become more supportive because we are cracking the whip," chief land claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya said in an interview.

He said a decision to issue expropriation notices to farmers if negotiations on the price or title deeds exceeded six months had helped speed up the land-reform programme aimed at handing over nearly a third of white-owned land to new black farmers by 2014 to redress the injustices of apartheid.
Mail and Guardian

Post-SIF landscape sees fall in conveyancing claim numbers
The Lawyer.com - UK
The first five years of an open market for solicitors' professional indemnity insurance saw a complete change in the claims environment, according to new research.

Brokers Alexander Forbes compared the profile of claims against solicitors made under the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF), which stopped taking new business in 2000, with the profile of claims made since.

Professional indemnity advisers said the open market had been good for solicitors. Barlow Lyde & Gilbert partner Sarah Clover said: "In general terms the profession's paying very modest premiums for the cover that it's getting."
The Lawyer.com

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