South African consumers are being warned that 2014 may be a tough year: interest rate increase, petrol price hike up to R16/l and, as a result, there are concerns that the price of food and public transport will also increase, putting more pressure on consumers who are already struggling to make ends meet. Consumers can no longer afford the luxury of more credit and rather than wondering whether they should buy or not, believe they have no choice but to rent.
Renting a room, a flat, even a four-bedroomed house, is no new endeavour. For centuries, landlords and tenants have exchanged cash for space and when there was a shortage of the former, or an excess of the latter, renting became as natural an activity as eating, sleeping or breathing. But these days, as people become more savvy with their money, potential homeowners are choosing to continue renting rather than take the leap and buy a property.
As the price of living continues to increase, keeping up with monthly expenses becomes more challenging. Homeowners face a difficult choice of downsizing. First-time buyers are overcome with concerns and put off the big purchase for another year.
From an "owning" to a "sharing" economy
However, prospective homeowners need to realise that they don't need to take on this burden alone. The global economy is shifting from an "owning" to a "sharing" economy. This sharing phenomenon is evident when one looks at the variety of websites where anything from power tools, skills, movies, even designer handbags, are shared.
"Transitioning into a sharing economy functions on the principle of sharing your underutilised resources and assets, for example, an extra room or living spaces on your property," said Liezl Hesketh, founder of TheRoomLink.co.za, a site promoting the new age of sharing. The site is a connective thread, a middleman, that allows smart consumers and landlords to meet, agree on prices, terms, and characteristics that work for both, and walk away happy.
For landlords, this affords the opportunity to purchase or keep a property, which can then be rented out, knowing the rent will help to cover bond payments. The year of sharing is well and truly here, and though a single 25-year-old woman could rent a one-bedroomed flat, she may now choose to purchase a three-bedroomed house and share the costs with roommates.
In this economy, sites such as TheRoomLink.co.za make it easier for prospective tenants to meet potential landlords on even ground that matches the needs of both parties, in a safer and more holistic way than ever before.