Black luxury property owners, few and far in between

If you are black and living in an owner occupied property valued at more than R1.5m, you must count yourself as one of the lucky few darkies, 32000 to be precise.

The representation of black people in the South African “luxury property market” stands around a paltry 7.8% but at that represent more than 100% growth over the past 10 years, a finding that could be used to argue that the country’s economic redistribution poser, black economic empowerment (BEE), is stumbling.

The figures come out of the latest report prepared by research firm Lightstone. The 2013 Lightstone Property Report showed that black owners in the luxury property market, a segment made of property worth more than R1.5m, moved from 3.3% in 2003 to seat at 7.8% currently. But then the figures in the middle segment of the residential property market could be radically different.

Lightstone MD, Andrew Watt said while the luxury property market figure has more than doubled over the last 10 years, it still means that less than 8% of these approximately 400 000 luxury properties are owned by black people.

The report also revealed that black ownership of the overall South African residential market has only grown from 37% to 42% over the past 10 years.

Watt said while the profile of black property ownership in South Africa has changed over the last 10 years; this adjustment has not been as dramatic as many would have expected, with the property market slump having affected sentiment.

“Despite this, it is interesting to note that black ownership in the luxury property market (properties valued at R1.5 million or more) has more than doubled over the same period to 7.8% from 3.3%. This is clearly attributable to the increasing spending power of the middle to upper income black consumer; however, it should be noted that this originates from a small base where the volumes remain marginal.”

Watt said that while growth in the black market is noteworthy given that the general property market has slowed down significantly since 2008, it is clear that this slowdown has also had a marked effect on the level of black ownership too.

“Looking at the market as a whole across all races, it is interesting to note that female-only ownership has increased over the last 10 years – even slightly outstripping male-only ownership. As a result, the market is now fairly evenly divided between female-only, male-only and properties co-owned by both genders.

Lightstone notes that the highest levels of female-only ownership are seen in the black community, while the Asian community has the largest levels of co-ownership. When excluding the affordable/township market, female-only ownership within the black community is in line with trends seen in the white community.

He said the access to housing finance area also revealed some interesting trends. Black home owners in the R250000 plus market are slightly more likely to access finance than owners of other race groups. “Black owners that do bond also tend to bond for a higher proportion of the purchase price (92%) than white owners that bond (83%),” said Watt.

“The South African property market has been through a difficult period over the last five years but it is heartening to see that even with the introduction of the National Credit Act and more stringent lending conditions, we are continuing to see transformation in the owned-property market,” said Watt.

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