South Africans under the age of 35 years old are buying fewer houses than before – but they are paying more for them.

Data from Lightstone shows that the decline in volumes is proportionately sharper than the overall fall in property purchases over the last six years.

Hayley Ivins-Downes, managing executive: real estate cluster at Lightstone, says purchases by those between 26 and 35 fell 25% from 92 558 in 2018 to 69 577 in 2023, the lowest figure recorded in the six-year period, while total overall transfers registered fell 13% from 294 859 in 2018 to 255 726 in 2023.

Buyers in the 26 to 35 age group accounted for 31% of total purchases in 2018, and this fell to 27% in 2023.

“Buying pattens among those under 25 have fallen proportionately to overall purchases,” says Ivins-Downes. They accounted for 11 480 purchases in 2018, and this dropped to 8 977 in 2023, also the lowest in the six-year period, but constant at 4% of total purchases.

A deeper look into Lightstone’s data reveals that buyers under the age of 35 were increasingly paying more for their homes. “In 2023, 36% paid between R1-million and R3-million, compared to just 29% in 2018. Conversely, houses priced between R250 000 and R500 000 fell from 34% in 2018 to 25% in 2023.”

Most sales in 2023 and 2024 took place in Impumelelo, a housing development project in Devon in the Sedibeng Municipality of Gauteng, followed by Sky City, a housing development project in Ekurhuleni, and Belhar, Cape Town

Most buyers under 35 were new entrants in the property market, with first time buyers accounting for about 70% of the market.