WINDHOEK - In the latest housing index by FNB Namibia, Group Economist Namene Kalili concluded that the stage has been set for lower housing demand. “This can be based on economic growth stagnating, consumer confidence waning, increased affordable housing delivery, increased land delivery, rising interest rates, rising home ownership costs and the economy still shedding jobs.”
“We remain particularly concerned about price developments in the luxury price segment, where properties are selling well below valuations, and we would even argue below replacement costs. With these price pressures trickling down to the upper price segment, property is no longer the standout investment asset class it used to be. Additionally, the negative wealth effects amongst high net worth individuals, will prolong the economic recovery as the top five percent income earners account for 36 percent of national consumption, and if they are not spending, the Namibian economy will not grow, and housing demand will remain weak.”
Kalili added that FNB Namibia expected house prices to shed 5.8 percent of their value in 2018, and to start seeing some price resistance in 2019, as housing becomes increasingly affordable to a select few.
“This will reduce the price contraction through 2019 to 1.2 percent, before turning positive in 2020, at which stage we believe property prices will have corrected and thus maintain inflation related price increases going forward.”
When looking at the FNB housing index in detail, it becomes apparent that the residential property market continued to struggle, after July sales indicated that property prices contracted by 4.1 percent. This means that property prices have contracted in six of the first seven months of 2018, to bring the average property price to N$1.29 million in July. Price pressures were felt mostly at the top end of the market, after the luxury price segment was decimated by nine consecutive quarters of economic decline.
“Prices for luxury properties contracted by 64.6 percent year-on-year in July, and with limited demand at N$10.229 million (down from N$18.298 million in Dec 2017), we believe there is still more pain to come. As the luxury segment re-prices, this downward price pressure has begun to trickle down to the upper price segment, where we are starting to see more and deeper month on month price contractions, as prices slumped to N$3.625 million in July.”
On a more positive note, the index states that property prices in the middle to lower price segment drifted 3.1 percent and 5.3 percent higher on an annualised basis, supported by robust volume growth in the lower price segment, as government ramped up affordable housing delivery.
Consequently, overall volumes have increased by 17.9 percent year-on-year, on the back of robust volume growth in the lower price segment, where volumes increased by 28.8 percent year-on-year.