Absa’s Homeowners Sentiment Index for the first quarter of 2024 reveals an uplift in confidence in the property market, with overall sentiment among respondents surveyed climbing to 82% as optimism begins to remerge.

In the survey of 1 149 respondents, the number of positive responses rose 4% compared to the final quarter of 2023 and 9% relative to sentiment recorded a year ago. This quarter’s index also indicates healthy growth in sentiment across investors surveyed, surging 6% quarter-on-quarter. This increase is the highest score recorded in the index’s investor subcategory in three years.

“These figures indicate that consumers and investors are increasingly optimistic about the property market’s prospects, anticipating better days ahead,” says Nondumiso Ncapai, Absa home loans managing executive. “While risks remain, sentiment around the property market’s future returns is promising, reflecting what we have known to be true in South Africa for many years – property remains an aspirational and desirable investment.”

Key findings of the Q1 2024 Homeowners Sentiment Index include:

* Overall sentiment improved to 82%, up from 78% in Q4 2023, while there was growth in all the subcategories surveyed in the index.

* Sentiment to buy property grew 8% to 72% compared to the previous quarter and 11% compared to Q1 2023 – an inflection point in what has been a downward trend since the final quarter of 2021.

* Investor sentiment increased by 6% compared to Q4 2023, reaching the highest level since Q1 2021.

* There was a notable increase in positive sentiment among first-time homebuyers, with many feeling that now is an opportune time to invest in property.

* A significant uptick was also observed among women who now consider it more appropriate to buy rather than rent in Q1 2024.

The security of property as an asset, consistent appreciation in property values over time, and the creation of long-term income were among the main factors cited by respondents concerning the attractiveness of property as an investment class. This, while a challenging economy, political instability, crime, high unemployment rates and escalating property prices were identified by respondents as significant barriers to market enthusiasm.

“The Homeowners Sentiment Index serves as a barometer for the health of the property market and reflects the evolving attitudes of consumers towards home ownership and investment in real estate,” says Ncapai. “The data underscores a growing confidence that is likely to stimulate further activity in the market.”

While interest rates are now expected to remain higher for longer than expected at the start of 2024, extending the time anticipated for a full recovery of the property market, positive signals in the period under review suggest consumers are already gearing up for better times.