The year past has been a volatile one economically, politically and socially for South Africa, and the chain of events has influenced financial markets, business confidence and of course, as a result, the property market as a whole.
The office sector
The outlook for the office space sector of the commercial market is pretty bleak, and as long as there is little to no growth in the economy, we don’t expect any major changes.
This means that based on the current economic conditions, the office vacancy rate will most likely continue to rise. In recent months there has been very little uptake in vacancies, and most of the movement in this sector of the market has been in redevelopment.
Rentals remain under pressure and yields remain low, a trend we expect to continue into 2017.
The industrial sector
The industrial property market has actually been relatively positive in its trading trends over the past 12 months.
We do, however, anticipate a levelling off in this sector due to the continued economic slump. That said, vacancies are currently fairly low, and we expect them to remain so in the year ahead.
The retail sector
There has been a large amount of retail development in recent years, but we are now seeing an easing off as new development slows down considerably.
This is due to the fact that the retail sector is coming under increasing pressure due to a decline in consumer spending, and as a result we are starting to see more and more vacancies.
The lower end of the market is slowing down as more and more households feel the financial pressure of a slow economy.
The middle of the market – property priced between R1m and R3m – is still fairly active. We believe this portion of the market will continue on a similar growth trend as it has in recent years.
As can be expected from the decline in new development sales in the lower end of the market, there has been an increase in rental demand in this sector. We are also seeing an increasing demand for rental properties from the middle market as well.
Rentals at the higher end of the market are being driven by foreign, skilled, white collar tenants in the IT, telecoms and engineering spheres predominantly.
With the sustained increase in the cost of basic services, body corporates will continue to find their budgets strained, which in turn means placing more financial pressure on the consumer as levy increases will be unavoidable.
In attempting to stick to their budgets, dampen levy increases for owners and manage the increased cost of services, bodies corporate will be walking a fine line to balance expenditure on repairs and maintenance, gardening and security services, all of which contribute to the appeal and capital growth potential of properties within sectional title complexes.
Unless there is a radical change in the status quo politically, and aggressive measures adopted to improve economic stability and growth, property will, overall, have very limited growth and investment potential in the year ahead, with some sectors potentially even seeing more dramatic decline.
Story: Chris Renecle
(MD of Renprop)