There is always a direct correlation between the South African Reserve Bank's Leading Business Cycle Indicators and the number and value of mortgage bonds awarded, says Tony Clarke, managing director of the Rawson Property Group. This was clearly shown not so long ago by the increase in the number of bonds issued during the short-lived economic recovery of 2010.
"Right now the picture does not look so rosy. FNB is predicting that mortgage loan growth will be lack-lustre - definitely in the single digits - for the foreseeable future. This was expected by the housing sector because, after receding into negative territory in 2012, the year-on-year leading indicator growth is at 0.12%, which FNB describes as by no means a meaningful increase," Clarke says.
Also correlating with leading indicator figures, are household disposable income growth figures. These too peaked in the last quarter of 2010 at 5.7%, but have since dropped back to ± 3.5% in the last quarter. The quite severe drop is bound to affect the call for mortgage bonds.Easy to lose sight
"When economic trend-watchers are faced with flat line predictions of this kind, it is only too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and to forget that it is not just economics which drives a sector. Housing is a primary need; although its delivery and values are always affected by up and down swings in the economy, people simply cannot do without it - they have to have somewhere to live."
The good news at the moment is that the Human Settlements Department will now be operating on a budget of R122 billion. Although spread out over several years, this is a huge injection at the lower levels of the housing sector and will undoubtedly have a push-up effect on housing throughout the lower and middle income brackets and we are already beginning to see signs that this is taking place.