House price index growth slows

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Johannesburg - The growth in house prices has slowed slightly since last month, First National Bank said on Monday.

“According to the FNB House Price Index, the average house price for April 2014 rose eight percent year-on-year. This is slightly slower than a revised 8.1 percent for March,” property sector strategist John Loos said in a statement.

“Real house price growth (i.e. when house prices are adjusted for consumer price inflation), came in at 1.93 percent year-on-year in March (April CPI was not yet available).”

This was a slight reduction from the revised 2.3 percent real price growth seen in February, in part due to CPI (consumer price index) inflation having sped up slightly in March, from 5.9 percent in February to six percent.

The slowing of house price growth from February also contributed to the March year-on-year data.

The average home price of those involved in transactions was R954 443.

“In real terms, the FNB House Price Index remained well above levels of a decade ago, up 22.8 percent from March 2004,” said Loos.

“However, compared with last decade's real average price peak, reached in December 2007, the February 2013 real price was still 18 percent lower.”

In terms of monetary value, the April 2014 average house price was 114.5 percent higher than the April 2004 price level, but only 20.5 percent above the December 2007 level.

During April, certain key high frequency economic indicators also suggested that some slowdown in the housing market improvement rate may take place as we move through 2014.

“Notably, the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) Leading Business Cycle Indicator for February declined at a more rapid rate than in the previous month, to the tune of -2.8 percent year-on-year, pointing to possible near-term economic weakness,” said Loos.

“Significant in this data release was that the SARB pointed to the leading indicator for SA's major trading partner countries as having a negative influence on the domestic leading indicator, along with global commodity prices for key SA commodity exports.”

Data released last month on the number of bankruptcies that occurred in February showed a slight year-on-year increase, which suggested a mild deterioration in household sector credit health.

“More such deterioration could be expected in an interest rate hiking environment,” said Loos.

Car sales, according to April data released by National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA, also showed a 10.6

percent decline year-on-year.

Data released in prior months showed weakness, and January's interest rate hike, along with weak disposable income growth was also playing a role.

“We also saw weak February mining and manufacturing data for February being released in April, with poor mining figures being unsurprising given the strike action, and suggesting pressure on the economy from this sector,” he said.

Sapa


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