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Pillars of Justice

Embracing a New Wave: Collective Home Buying Sweeps South Africa Amidst Rising Interest Rates

In the face of soaring living costs and steep interest rates, South Africa's middle class is turning to innovative solutions for home ownership, marking a significant shift in the real estate landscape.

FNB, a prominent banking group, highlights a burgeoning trend: group buying, where up to 12 individuals pool resources to purchase a home collectively. This novel approach has seen a remarkable 36% uptick in adoption, as reported in FNB's loan books for the six months ending on 31 December 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

Mfundo Mabaso, from FNB's home and structured lending division, sheds light on the demographic driving this trend. Individuals with monthly gross earnings ranging from R3,500 to R29,600, emblematic of South Africa's middle class, are increasingly exploring collective home buying. Struggling amidst the country's challenging economic climate, they seek affordable housing solutions, necessitating a collaborative approach to cope with escalating living costs and enduring high interest rates.

FNB's data underscores Gauteng as the epicenter of collective buying, closely followed by the Western Cape. Surprisingly, while this trend initially gained traction in the affordable housing sector, affluent customers are also embracing it, whether for holiday homes or financing ventures into semigration properties.

Despite hopes for a reprieve, South Africa has grappled with a 15-year high in interest rates for nearly a year, reaching 8.25% in May 2023—the highest since May 2009. Early expectations for rate cuts in 2024 have dimmed, with projections suggesting a possible reduction of 50 basis points by year-end or even postponement to 2025. Persistent inflation and a more cautious stance from major global central banks, notably the US Federal Reserve, contribute to the prolonged high rates.

The South African Reserve Bank remains steadfast in its commitment to maintaining monetary policy stability until inflation aligns with its 4.5% target. With expectations of sustained high rates, prospective homebuyers are increasingly turning to collective buying as a viable alternative.

As South Africa braces for an extended period of elevated interest rates, collective home buying emerges as a pragmatic solution, reflecting the resilience and adaptability of its populace amidst economic challenges.

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