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How COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the property market

Just like many industries the property market came to a ground halt during level 5 lockdown regulations, and under level 4 South Africans are still not permitted to move houses.

FILE: RE/MAX is calling on government to reconsider its classification of the sector as a non-essential service, saying this is having an impact on the economy. Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - Some experts have warned that the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the property market could result in a change in demand for space in the retail and office sectors.

Just like many industries, the property market came to a halt during level 5 lockdown regulations, and under level 4 South Africans are still not permitted to move houses.

However, with the easing of some regulations, the Deeds Office is now open allowing for property transactions to be concluded.

With many companies now having to adapt to their employees working from home, some experts predicted the demand for property especially office space could be impacted beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

Property Expert Keillen Ndlovu said: “One of the challenges they face is that you have to reconfigure the working environment so that instead of sitting close to each other in an open plan system, this needs to be revisited.”

He said most corporate companies would require less space.

“They’re seeing that you can work from home, and so far early signs indicate that it’s been successful,” Ndlovu said.

Those struggling to keep up with their rent payments were advised to make arrangements with their landlords and perhaps even renegotiate their lease agreement.

RESUMPTION OF REAL ESTATE SECTOR

Meanwhile, real estate giant RE/MAX is calling on government to reconsider its classification of the sector as a non-essential service, saying this is having an impact on the economy.

Regional director and CEO of RE/MAX Adrian Goslett said the real estate sector contributed to the economy.

“In a recent meeting with our digital advertising partners, it was pointed out to us that the interest rate cuts have stimulated interest among buyers, as revealed by an increase in ‘buy a home’ search terms during this period.

“However, it is unlikely that this peak in interest will result in too many sales as few South Africans will be able to afford to make such a large investment at this time. Sadly, the earning potential of many has been either directly or indirectly impacted as a result of COVID-19. The cuts in interest rates are therefore only likely to help consumers keep up with their debt repayments rather than allow them to take on new debt,” Goslett said in a statement.

One estate agent said she was struggling to survive.

“Our lives are totally stuck now. Money is being dished out by this government for everybody, the self-employed, and artists but there is absolutely nothing for estate agents,” she said.

RE/MAX said it had contacted government and was hoping the matter was being given due consideration.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.