Advice and Opinion

Beyond the vote – the anticipated impact of the General Elections on SA’s real estate industry

With the 2024 local and national elections marking a pivotal moment in South Africa’s history, many questions and uncertainties are arising. Property developers, property owners, and buyers had been grappling with pressing questions: How would the property market shift under new or existing leadership? Would interest rates remain steady? Should new opportunities be launched?

Stefan Botha, Director of Rainmaker Marketing, spearheaded this conversation and addressed concerns with industry leaders in a recent webinar where they discussed the anticipated impact of the General Elections on the real estate industry. The esteemed panel of experts provided crucial insights, addressed key concerns, and highlighted opportunities for participants to capitalise on in the property market post-elections.

The panellists included Steve Brookes, CEO at Balwin Properties, Carlos Correia, CEO at Fundamentum Property Group, Rob Wesselo, Managing Director at International Housing Solutions, and Professor Ongkgopotse JJ Tabane, political commentator, businessman, and television presenter. The discussion underscored the critical intersection of politics and the property market, offering stakeholders a roadmap to navigate the anticipated changes post-election.

SA’s political landscape

The webinar explored various scenarios and their potential outcomes at both local and national levels post-election day. Professor Tabane provided a thorough analysis, highlighting the country’s critical issues such as unemployment, inequality, and poverty. He suggested that a national coalition government might be necessary depending on policy alignments, with local coalition arrangements inevitable. “For investor safety, if the ruling party continues to govern, it wouldn’t change a lot unless a party on either extreme win or makes severe changes to key policies,” Tabane explained. He added, “The country is in crisis given the statistics, from economic growth to unemployment. Maybe we need a government of national unity where you can get the best of all parties to solve all the problems, but it doesn’t look like many share the same sentiment.”

Steve Brookes stressed the need for growth to boost the property market and create jobs. “The biggest thing we need in the property market and for the country is growth. There are great existing policies, they just need to be implemented,” he said. Brookes expressed optimism, saying, “South Africans love the doomsday moments, we are a resilient society, new democracy, and we have lots of hope in the country.”

Rob Wesselo emphasised the importance of infrastructure for property development. He recalled the substantial growth between 2000 and 2007/8, where the residential market saw prices grow by 20-30%. “It is important for the middle and lower class to get an opportunity into the property market as it becomes their biggest investment acquisition.”

The panel discussed how changes in administration could either benefit or challenge the industry. Efficient governance could expedite processes and improve service delivery. However, engagement between government and developers remains a challenge. “There is a hunger to change, transform, and create an inclusive economy,” Botha remarked. He emphasised the need for a stable environment and strong partnerships between the public and private sectors to foster development.

The property market plays a vital role in South Africa’s economy, servicing residential and commercial needs while creating job opportunities. The panellists agreed that post-election, there should be more government involvement to attract local and international investor and that broader participation is needed to implement changes effectively.  

Botha concluded that none of us are passive participants. “We can focus on the facts and we can look through all this murky space that we are in, but we can all be active agents and not passive observers. … It’s the active agents that can really drive change in our country and we have a very positive future ahead of us, following the example of the panellists present who have made considerable positive contributions to our country.”