One of the questions that he is most frequently asked, says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, is, “Is this the right time to increase my property portfolio?”
His answer, he says, is always, “Yes”.
“If too much attention is paid in trying to buy at the very best price and at exactly the right time,’ says Rawson, “the chances are that the buyer will hesitate far too long – and we have seen several instances of this recently. If you buy regularly (we have clients who add one unit to their portfolio each year) you will inevitably ride out the dips and the rises in the market.”
“It should however also be realized that the demand for most middle and lower bracket property is strong and prices will rise, albeit not spectacularly. It is also quite likely that the banks will start competing more aggressively this year in the house finance market, which will aid the buyers and lead to price rises.”
Those involved in this type of investment, says Rawson, must make good use of the sophisticated internet research tools now available to them. Data and information banks such as Propstats and Lightstone, some of which charge fees (but these are seldom high), give useful information on current prices and trends over the last year, five years or more, while others will reveal what needs to be known about community services, crime, transport and other such relevant matters in the suburb being investigated. All this information should be researched by potential buyers as it will help them arrive at an accurate price.
If the buyer has the time, adds Rawson, it can also be a good tactic to make an initial “cheeky offer” and leave the seller time to mull over the matter.
“This tactic,” say Rawson, “has often secured good properties at very low prices because given time, the seller begins to realize that he is unlikely to get a better offer.”
It can be especially helpful, adds Rawson, to know why the seller is selling, i.e. whether they are in a hurry or not. Agents sometime shy away from asking this question because it can be deemed an invasion of privacy. However no information can be more helpful to a shrewd buyer than the reasons why the seller is selling.
Throughout the Western and Asian worlds, says Rawson, buy-to-let is on the increase. The trend is driven by the on-going drift to the cities (which worldwide are growing by an average of 6% per annum) as well as by banks becoming less cautious and more competitive in their bond arrangements and by the redundancies that are still prevalent in many European countries (and are still definitely a possibility in South Africa). The high cost of new development is also leading to a shortage of housing and a rise in rentals.