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A snapshot of the property markets in other African countries

Category Property Markets

Besides South Africa, Seeff Property Services is also active in a number of other countries on the African continent including Botswana, Eswatini (previously known as Swaziland), Namibia, Zambia and Mauritius.

Seeff spoke to their experts in these countries to get a snapshot of the investment opportunities these markets have to offer.

Botswana

From a small start-up business in 2004, Seeff Properties in Botswana has grown to an agency covering most aspects of the property market - from high end residential to commercial, industrial, tourism and agricultural properties.

Kim Bekker, Seeff’s MD in Botswana says now is an opportune time to invest in property in Botswana.

“Not only does the country have very modern amenities, but in 2016 Gaborone was also listed as one of the top five cleanest cities in Africa. Modern shopping malls with chain stores from South Africa and some international brands have mushroomed up over the country.

Palapye along the Eastern side of the Country probably boasts the highest density of new state of the art shopping malls and the largest Nando's drive through in the country.

For investment purposes, industrial properties in Botswana probably give the highest return on investment. New developments in the Gaborone New CBD have attracted investors in the commercial market as well as a number of financial institutions, consultants and law firms as owner occupiers”.

Bekker continues that in the residential space, there is still only one Golf Estate with approximately 280 houses in Botswana. Entry level is around the P 3 Million mark, but homes have sold on the secondary market for up to P 15 Million.

Other popular areas include Central (Extension 9 and 11), Greater Phakalane suburb, Kgale View, Mokolodi, Sentlhane and Notwane. There are also new developments at Setlhoa Village and Block 10 which are close to the airport, Airport Junction and Sebele Malls”.

Bekker concludes that at Independence in 1966 there was 12 km of tar road in the whole of Botswana and no municipal facilities, but most villages today have tar roads, mains electricity, running water, a clinic, a primary school and other government facilities.

“Today Gaborone – the capital – is home to over a quarter of a million people”.

Eswatini

While Eswatini (previously known as the Kingdom of Swaziland) is one of the smallest countries in Africa, it continues to attract foreign investment from all over the world.

The Seeff Eswatini branch has only been operative for a couple of years, but since opening its doors it has facilitated significant property transactions in all sectors of the property market.

Anthony Mcguire, Seeff’s MD in Eswatini, say this branch’s success - specifically with regards to commercial sales - demonstrates the incredible appetite for this type of property within Swaziland, even when compared to larger economies in Africa.

“The demand for commercial property in Eswatini is largely fueled by nationwide infrastructural developments, good returns and improved confidence in the country as a whole.

When priced correctly, commercial property in Eswatini is snapped up quickly regardless of the transaction amount”.

Mcguire continues that in comparison to South Africa, average residential properties in Eswatini are typically priced higher even when compared to more exclusive suburbs of Johannesburg.

“This is mainly due to the absence of a functional competitive sectional title market that can offer an alternative to freestanding title deed land.

There is also a segment of the market in Eswatini which historically consisted of foreigners, embassies and professionals such as doctors and entrepreneurs who could afford to buy properties at a premium price, creating the effect where a select few sellers make tremendous capital gains.

This segment of the market, and its resultant effect on pricing, has been somewhat marginalised by the cessation of residential property sales to foreign nationals and can sometimes create a flawed image of the real economy.

Exponential growth and increased property prices are particularly evident in the Ezulwini Valley where there is limited supply, relatively high demand and willing cash buyers.

In turn this has resulted in new opportunities in other areas for which demand has been somewhat lacking. Mukela and Umdoni residential estates for instance have seen increased demand as other areas of Ezulwini are priced out of middle class markets.

Supply in the top end of the housing market is largely fuelled by downscaling, in part from sellers looking to downscale as a result of their life stage and in part people down scaling as a result of financial pressure.

Opportunity for residential developments is mostly in and around Eswatini’s major towns and gated community estates are on the rise.

The Nkonyeni Golf Estate in Sidvokodvo, where Seeff have a sattelite office, is a major success story, and proves the viability of further such developments”.

Namibia

Maria Esterhuysen, MD for Seeff Namibia, says even though this country offers exciting economic and property market prospects, it is also affected by certain fluctuations.

“Namibia had an unexpected, almost 30%, downturn in the economy since 2016 due to a number of factors such as government debt and expenditure which has influenced spending, the unsustainability in the mining sectors because of product price related factors and the persistent drought which is influencing the farming sector.

The economy is projected to regain strength and momentum that is expected around 2020/1. Some exciting new possibilities that will affect the economy positively include the Walvis Bay harbour development as well as off-shore Phosphate, mining and oil exploration.

Additionally, government’s drive to promote the tourism sector is also exciting. We are also seeing rising demand in the property sector due to down scaling of construction since 2016”.

Esterhuysen continues that there are currently only restrictions on the ownership of agricultural land, preventing foreigners from 100% ownership. No restrictions apply to residential, commercial and industrial property. Foreigners may also own any businesses in Namibia.

Government recently held a land reform conference in Windhoek where there was discussions about the possible reclaiming of unutilised agricultural land. This is also related to the fear of food shortages in the coming years and could have a more positive effect than a negative effect.

The above has not been implemented and is still only speculation at this stage.

Esterhuysen adds that a stable political climate in Namibia has always been one of the positive factors for property investment here.

“The current lower supply of residential land and developments are creating a shortfall in supply which will increase further as demand increases.

The natural limitations on new land availability are another factor. At the coast for example, open beachfront land has become rare because of the topographical layout of the coastal towns, as they have all reached their outer boundaries. This in effect means a small supply of beachfront property that will affect property values positively.

The volatile uranium price has affected the property market (especially rentals) at the coast as the mining industry is one of the largest employers. As much as it can be a concern, it can be a positive factor if the uranium price reaches its target value again.

The Bank of Namibia has changed their policy with regards to mortgage percentages. This restriction is based on the purchaser’s bank exposure within Namibia. While the new structure limits investors by means of money gearing to purchase multiple properties it also provides the opportunity for first time buyers to be able to procure a loan and get a “foot in the door”.

Even though Namibia is experiencing a difficult economy due to the restrictions on mortgage loans, current lack of cash-flow and growing retrenchment rates, property at the coast (Swakopmund and Walvis Bay) reached positive growth of up to 34% per year. These growth figures can be seen by reviewing the FNB housing index that reflects property growth with figures and averages of five years.

Namibia still experiences volumes of cash purchases which do not reflect on bank indices. It is also believed that the current market conditions are not all bad as it created corrections in some over-inflated house prices, especially in Windhoek.

Namibia is also seen as a favourable property investment due to the Tax laws which means there is no tax on capital gains, no estate duties and no transfer duty on the purchase of PTY’s and CC’s.

While there are talks about rent control (when rental income is restricted to a certain percentage growth rate of the value of the property) it is not in effect in Namibia as yet.

Rent control is also only applicable on residential property and will have no effect on the industrial and commercial sectors of the property market.

What affect will rent control have on my investment?

FNB did a survey on the potential influence that rent control might have on the investors’ current situation. With the maximum net rental yield possibly to be set at 10%, it was found that the average rental yield in Namibia is only 8% and it is therefore predicted to be unlikely to have any effect.

What growth can I expect on my investment?

The average growth rate forecast for Namibia in 2018 is 5,4%. Optimists believe that the market has reached its lowest point with regards to volume and selling prices and is in a slow, but upward curve.

The market segments shifted from more expensive property to the lower and middle-income segment. With well-educated decision making, one can hardly make a mistake when considering property investment.

Is Namibia experiencing a buyer’s or seller’s market?

Namibia is currently in a buyer’s market phase as house prices have come down considerably in most areas since 2016.

The largest volume of sales occur in the low to middle income markets, typically in the N$800,000 to N$1,500,000 range.

What annual return should I expect in the current Namibian market?

Returns of 7 to 8 percent is a good average return, while 8 to 10 percent is fairly easy to reach, often expected by investors and considered a good investment return. Above 10% is rare and a good investment.

Zambia

The Zambian rental market has been stable for the past five years, though not without challenges, says Lusungu Kayela, Seeff’s Licensee in Zambia.

“Like many other Real Estate Agencies in Zambia, Seeff Zambia has been active in the rental market, seeing a steady increase in the development and construction of both residential and commercial properties over the past five to 10 years.

An uptick in investment from international investors and local institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies taking a large share of investment into new shopping malls for retail purposes, offices and residential development has been observed.

Lusaka, the capital, accounts for over 70% of this and the country's mining hub (the Copperbelt towns) and the tourist capital Livingstone account for the rest. Increased growth has been observed, though not rapid but steady with potential and great opportunities to be explored”.

The increase in the middle income class presents good opportunities for investors to explore, adds Kayela.

“Building costs of homes range between US$60 000 and US$100 000 for a three to four bedroom high cost home and can then be sold for between $80 000 and $150 000, with monthly rentals for this type of home ranging between $800 and $1,000. A two to three bedroom middle-income home sells for between $65 000 and $100 000 and can fetch monthly rentals ranging between $350 and $500”.

Kayela continues that modern homes in Lusaka are now the focus of foreign and local investors; with popular projects in Mass Media, Roma, Ibex hill, Kabulonga and Woodlands to name a few. Location contributes to demand in these areas and as a result higher rental returns are fetched.

“Apart from Lusaka and Livingstone, the town of Siavonga also offers a host of options to local and foreign visitors.

Business people from other towns invest in holiday homes here and as a result the local community is prospering and utilising business opportunities of this spill over effect.

Siavonga is not only exquisitely beautiful, but it is also a popular choice for business meetings and outings. This in turn presents an opportunity in the growth of local catering, hospitality and creative firms/businesses”.

Mauritius

Theo Pietersen, Seeff’s MD in Mauritius, says Mauritius is highly sought-after by SA property buyers, some for residency purposes, but increasingly for holiday/second homes, retirement and relocation.

“Mauritius is fast becoming a second home for South Africans and with the recent changes in the Mauritian government's property investment legislation, it is now a lot easier to invest in residential and commercial property on the island and there is an increased amount of developments available for SA buyers to invest in, both residential and commercial.

Mauritius now boasts top class infrastructure including an excellent banking sector, strong economic growth and a favourable investment and tax climate and is regarded as one of the easiest places to do business in.

Construction and real estate is regarded as one of the fastest growing industries on the island

Property on the island is regarded as an excellent investment and if you invest early, you can general benefit from excellent capital growth. Bear in mind, there are limited opportunities to invest, especially in prime seafront developments.

There are also opportunities to earn rental income during the times that your property is not in use as the island is a year-round holiday destination.

Pietersen adds that finance is available from both South African banks as well as in Mauritius at interest rates of 7%-9%, but with 40% cash deposit requirements.

According to a report of New World Wealth Mauritius is one of the fastest growing wealth markets in the world and property values have grown by anything upwards of 30%-40% over a five-year period in the new developments for foreign investors.

Aside from own-use buying/investing opportunities, the island has a busy tourist sector for holiday rentals as well as long-term rentals, so the opportunities are diverse

South Africans tend to invest between MUR 6 500 000 and MUR 20 000 000 which equates to approx. ZAR 2 628 000 to ZAR 8 100 000.

Seeff also has a branch that recently opened in Malawi and has a branch opening in Zimbabwe soon.

Author: Tanya van Buuren Botma

Submitted 18 Feb 19 / Views 466