Repo rate cut welcomed by property industry

On 19 March 2020, the Monetary Policy Committee announced a repo rate cut of 100 basis points, taking the repo rate to 5.25% per annum. This follows January’s 25 basis point cut.

Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property, welcomed the announcement noting that the 1% cut translates into a reduction in the mortgage rate (or prime lending rate) from 9.75 percent to 8.75 percent, which will bring further relief to homeowners with bonds to pay at this challenging time, and add stimulus to what is already a ‘buyers’ market’.

“These are exceptional times and we are relying heavily on the goodwill of the big, upstream players to help keep businesses and our economy afloat,” says Stevens. “We therefore welcome the announcement from the Reserve Bank and commend our Government on taking continued bold, positive steps to protect South Africans and those with vested interests here.”

“When one adds the two repo rate cuts we’ve had this year to banks approving more 100% home loans and the threshold on transfer duty being raised to R1-million, it is clear that the property market offers significant opportunities right now for buyers and sellers,” Stevens adds.

The press statement issued by Governor of the South African Reserve Bank Lesetja Kganyago explains that “the significantly lower forecast for headline inflation has created space for monetary policy to respond to the rapid deterioration in economic conditions. Barring severe and persistent currency and oil shocks, inflation is expected to be well contained, remaining below the midpoint of the target in 2020 and close to the midpoint in 2021.”

It goes on to note that “monetary policy can ease financial conditions and improve the resilience of households and firms to the short-term economic implications of Covid-19. Our decision and its magnitude seeks to do this in the near term… Monetary policy however cannot on its own improve the potential growth rate of the economy or reduce fiscal risks. Current economic conditions underscore the importance of implementing prudent macroeconomic policies and structural reforms that lower costs generally, and increase investment opportunities, potential growth and job creation. Global economic and financial conditions are expected to remain highly volatile for the foreseeable future.”

Stevens confirms that Just Property is working with suppliers to find ways to extend relief to Just Property franchisees and clients. “We are sharing cost-cutting and streamlining avenues with our franchisees so that they can rationalise now. They need to be able to continue to maintain high service levels despite any economic pressures down the line.”

The group is also working with industry partners TPN to facilitate continuity for Just Property landlords and tenants alike, particularly with regards to the question of how a landlord may offer respite but still protect his/her income. We have good relationships with partners like Rodel and are in close communications with them about services that can offer property sellers relief ahead of potential closures in the Deeds Office.

“We are all driven to revisit our business practices in an effort to recession-proof our businesses and to find the means to serve our clients in ways that matter to them. Innovation is one of our core values at Just Property and we are embracing this opportunity to live that value.”

For those looking to buy property, conditions are significantly more attractive than a year ago. “Covid-19 has the markets reeling across most sectors, and we are all fearful as the reality of the implications of the disease on our personal lives. Amidst alarming daily reports, it is a welcome relief to hear some good news,” says Stevens.

“As we have seen time and again, South Africans as a nation are at their finest in challenging times. We pull together and we make a plan – or many plans. We will see this happening again, and it is encouraging that our Reserve Bank is leading the way,” he concludes.

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