FNB’s fourth quarter 2017 Gauteng Metro and Major Council House Price Indices continued to show low single-digit rates of growth, well-below general consumer price inflation. This translates into further price decline in real terms (when adjusted for consumer price inflation). This ongoing affordability improvement has been reflected in solid levels of first time home buying in Gauteng’s major metros and a reasonable market balance, according to the FNB Estate Agent Survey.
The broad Gauteng metro picture
Using Deeds Office Data, FNB constructs a set of house price indices for key sub-regions within the province of Gauteng, the aim being to evaluate this regional housing market’s performance in more detail.
FNB have then rolled up this set of sub-regions into overall house price indices for each major metropolitan council region as well as for each district municipal region in those areas outside of Gauteng’s three metros.
All three of Gauteng’s major metros continue to show low single-digit house price growth.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, the City of Ekurhuleni’s estimated average house price growth rate was 3.92% year-on-year, slightly stronger than Tshwane’s 3.84% and City of Joburg’s 2.71%.
Real house price performances
With Gauteng Consumer Price Index Inflation at 4.7% year-on-year for the foutth quarter of 2017, these low nominal house price growth rates translate into house price declines in real terms (when adjusted for CPI), Tshwane to the tune of -0.8% year-on-year, Ekurhuleni -0.8% and Joburg -1.9%.
The three Gauteng Metros thus continued their broad decade-long correction which started around 2008.
Since the first quarter of 2008, Tshwane’s cumulative real house price decline has been -22.5%, Joburg -24.1% and Ekurhuleni -25.7%.
A view of the City of Joburg’s main regions
None of the City of Joburg’s sub-regions have had an extremely strong house price growth performance in the past five years, when one considers for example that certain of Cape Town’s sub-regions inflated by over 100% during this period. Since the end of 2012, the lowest income region, i.e. the former “township” region of Diepkloof-Soweto-Meadowlands-Pimville has shown the strongest cumulative growth of 52.42%, with the Midrand-Diepsloot region second-strongest with 26.17% cumulative growth. The highest value region, i.e. “Sandton and Surrounds”, has grown the slowest growth off the highest base, i.e. 16.16%.
More recently, the Diepkloof-Soweto-Meadowlands-Pimville region remains the highest estimated house price growth region at 13.88% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2017. Caution must be exercised when it comes to Repeat Sales House Price Indices using deeds data for low income regions, however, because social housing is often initially registered at values not related to market value, artificially inflating a repeat sales house price index more than the market reality.
The second strongest house price growth was experienced in the second-most affordable sub-region in the fourth quarter of 2017, namely Lenasia-Orange Farm-Ennerdale-Lawley, to the tune of 4.5%.
The highest priced “Sandton and Surrounds” sub-region was the weakest in terms of price growth, turning negative to the tune of -0.97%.
Tshwane – also hinting at slightly stronger lower ends markets
In Tshwane, over the past five years, the cumulative performance doesn’t point to a strong pattern of low end vs. high end out performance or vice versa.
Over the past five years, cumulative house price growth within Tshwane is estimated to have been the strongest in the Winterveldt-Mabopane-Soshanguve-Ga-Rankuwa-Hammanskraal region, to the tune of 59.95%, and this is the lowest priced region. However, the same cautions apply here as they do to former “township” regions in Johannesburg, i.e. care must be taken with interpretation due to the price distortions created by Government subsidized homes that are transferred to their new owners.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, however, the higher end did look weak-ish, with the two most expensive regions, i.e. Pretoria East and Pretoria South East, recording lowly year-on-year house price growth of 1.81% and a negative -1.57% respectively.
Some of the more affordable “former suburban” regions fared a little better, Pretoria West with 7.99% year-on-year house price growth, Akasia with 7.02% year-on-year price growth, and Pretoria North with 5.7%.
Ekurhuleni sub-region performance
Ekurhuleni also appears to have experienced greater market strength at the lower end. Some of the strongest cumulative house price growth over the past five years was seen in the lowest average priced areas, namely Nigel with 42.14%, Tokoza-Vosloorus-Katlehong with 37.96%, Springs with 29.97%, and Brakpan with 27.66%. Those four regions are the four lowest average house price regions in Ekurhuleni. Olifantsfontein region, a relatively high priced region by Ekurhuleni standards, in excess of R800,000 showed very strong growth of 35.91%, but FNB believes that this is in part due to difficulty in eliminating much of the “land-to-building” effect on the repeat sales index, as this is a relatively new area with possibly more building activity than others in recent years.
Other higher end areas with average prices above R800,000 (higher by Ekurhuleni standards) such as Alberton (18.32%) and Edenvale (16.45%) had relatively low cumulative house price growth.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, it remained the lower average price end that seemed to do better, with Nigel (21.3%), Tokoza-Vosloorus-Katlehong (6.06%) and Springs (6.05%) being the strongest 3 regions price growth-wise.
At a Major Metro level, all three Gauteng Metro residential markets continued to see low single-digit average house price inflation, below Gauteng CPI inflation, and thus negative in real terms. This means that Gauteng’s broad improving housing affordability trend of the past decade or so continued in the final quarter of 2017.
There are no strong patterns apparent when viewing the various sub-regions’ house price indices within the major metro regions, although FNB believes that lower-priced sub-regions still show vague signs of outperforming high priced regions.
In Gauteng’s housing markets, there appears to have been a general search for affordability in recent years, with solid first time buying levels, driving stronger markets at the lower priced end relative to more expensive sub-regions. The high priced areas such as the Sandton region of Joburg by comparison may have suffered at the hands of a significant outflow of affluent households to high end areas in Cape Town, in what has become a well-documented “migration” in recent years.
The slow price growth in recent years in Gauteng, implying significant affordability improvements, has arguably been reflected in strong rates of 1st time home buying relative to other major metro regions, according to the FNB Estate Agent Survey. For the final two quarters of 2017, first time buying estimated as a percentage of total home buying in Johannesburg was 23.18%, and in Tshwane a massive 31.65%. This stands in contrast to Cape Town’s lowly estimate of 8.38% after that city’s significant home affordability deterioration of recent years.
The Gauteng major metro regions’ demand and supply balances has also remained better balanced than certain other metro regions, and this is reflected in the containment of the average time that homes remain on the market before being sold.
For the final two quarters of 2017, the sample of agents participating in the survey estimated Tshwane’ average time on the market to be the shortest, at 13.43 weeks, with Greater Joburg slightly longer at 14.71 weeks. This is significantly faster than Nelson Mandela Bay’s 21.64 weeks and Ethekwini Metro,s 25.5 weeks. Cape Town was still at a lowly 14.14 weeks average, but we expect that that city’s poor affordability, along with its severe drought impacting negatively on its economy and housing market, will start to lengthen that average time on the market.
FNB therefore believes there to be a good chance that Gauteng’s under performance in house price growth in recent years may have made it the most realistically priced major region of the country (when thinking house prices relative to income levels in the region), which could turn it into a relative out performer in 2018.
Read more here: Property Barometer – Gauteng House Price Indices – March 2018