Blacks close property gap with whites

Johannesburg - The emerging African middle class is catching up to the white middle class in terms of home ownership, the SA Institute of Race Relations reported on Tuesday.

“The data, obtained from Statistics SA, showed that in 2011 there were 363,000 African homeowners paying bonds on their properties,” the institute said.

Photo: Leon Nicholas. Credit: Independent Newspapers

This figure compared to 386,000 white homeowners paying bonds on their properties.

“Because this African middle class was previously unable to own property as a result of racial ideology, what we are seeing in the data is encouraging,” institute researcher Georgina Alexander said.

The survey term “African” refers to black South Africans, she said.

Alexander said bonded home ownership was an important indicator of the middle class - of people with sufficient wealth and income stability to borrow money from a lending institution, to invest in a lasting and expensive asset.

But she cautioned that the “collective middle class” remains a small minority in South African society.

“Therefore, what we see in the growth of the African middle class is more the expansion of an elite minority, rather than the rise of a prosperous majority,” she said. - Sapa