Challenges confronted by South African investor in Joburg property market

A lesson in throwing good cash after dangerous.

Think about, if you’ll, you’re a South African residing in London. It’s 2015. The mid-2000 buy-to-let increase is a distant reminiscence. A few of your mates made a small fortune, however for varied causes you missed out.

You’ve nonetheless bought household in Joburg. The rand is at about R18 to the pound and also you’re scouting round for funding alternatives.

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Shopping for a modest two-bedroom condominium in a posh within the coronary heart of Fourways in Johannesburg looks like a good suggestion.

Property funding

Residential property isn’t precisely capturing the lights out. The nation is stumbling by the second time period of Jacob Zuma.

The Gupta household had a aircraft of wedding ceremony friends land at Air Pressure Base Waterkloof two years prior, however issues are wanting okay. Load shedding is an everyday characteristic, within the first half of the 12 months a minimum of, however the worst is Stage 2.

And folks want a spot to dwell. Joburg is just too massive to fail. Plus, the financial institution will lend you many of the cash.

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You discover a ‘center unit’ in an property constructed within the early 2000s by a developer with a family title. It’s nicely run and safe. You’re happy as you knock down the asking value a bit of and the vendor settles on R850 000.


Quick ahead six years. The economic system has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. You’ve had blended luck with tenants – some good, some dangerous.

The issue now could be you’re battling to seek out any good high quality potential renters. It stands empty for months.

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Finally, members of the family are in a position to transfer in as a result of a change of their circumstances. They pay market leases and life goes on, till they tire of the relatively cramped 70m2 unit. So it’s empty once more.

All this time, you’re funding the bond repayments, levies and property charges.

Lastly, you resolve to promote. However 2023 is firmly a purchaser’s market.

You get no provides for months, though the property is listed for what you paid for it! Not solely is the market depressed, however your unit is in a thatched complicated which implies levies are 30% to 40% increased than in adjoining non-thatched schemes (extra on that in a future Moneyweb article).

Exasperated, you sink R50 000 into revamping the kitchen. You’re nonetheless paying the bond, levies and charges.

You drop your asking value to R799 000 and settle for a suggestion of R750 000. You’ve managed to do away with this albatross. You haven’t performed too badly, you inform your self.

Not less than you aren’t spending R12 000 a month on dwelling mortgage repayments, levies and charges for one thing standing vacant. And its ‘solely’ a knock of R100k. “Manageable.”

Besides that utilizing simply these two costs – what to procure and bought the property for – is ignorance (at finest).

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Issue within the switch and bond registration prices if you purchased the home in 2015 and immediately the ‘precise’ buy value jumps to R900 000 (switch responsibility wasn’t payable as the value was beneath the edge).

It’s simple to lose observe of those within the course of and even simpler to neglect about them almost a decade later. A number of thousand to this lawyer, a number of extra to that one, an initiation price charged by the financial institution, and so forth.

Property agent fee

So, as a substitute of a 12% loss, it appears extra like a 17% one. However what of the property agent fee payable on the sale? You’re solely going to internet round R700 000 – a really far cry from the R900 000 you paid for the property. Now your loss jumps to 22%.

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Oh, and that R50 000 spent on redoing the kitchen to get the place bought? You’re successfully solely getting R650 000 out, that means a lack of near 30%.

That’s dangerous sufficient for a seven-to-eight-year funding in anybody’s books.

This calculation, nonetheless, neglects to incorporate the influence of the trade charge. You’re incomes kilos and elected to modify exhausting forex to rands to purchase a property.

That R900 000 buy value (all in) was £50 000 in 2015. Immediately, at R23 to £1, the R650 000 is simply £28 000 (not £36 000 at R18: £1), because of the weaker rand. So, your loss is definitely near 45%.

However you additionally haven’t factored in inflation, which within the UK has averaged 3.99% yearly since 2015. That implies that the 2015 buy value of £50 000 in in the present day’s cash can be £68 000.

Your inflation-adjusted loss? Virtually 60%!

None of those calculations issue within the lots of of 1000’s of rands you’ve stumped up over time.

First, you wanted to ‘prime up’ the bond compensation and pay the levies. Rental earnings merely wasn’t sufficient to cowl it.

Perhaps this was costing you round R2 000 a month. Will increase in administered costs meant this crept up and has been nearer to R3 000 now.

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That’s simply R200 000 since 2015, not together with the months on finish that the unit was vacant. There, you successfully stumped up the ‘rental’ of, say, R8 000 a month. That’s one other R100k!

Add all of this in and your loss in rand phrases is over 60%. In sterling, it’s about 80%.

Had you merely taken the £50 000 and invested it an exchange-traded fund that tracks the S&P 500, you’d be up over 150%.

This text was republished from Moneyweb. Learn the unique right here

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