Cape Town - Levels of home maintenance by owners are slipping, according to First National Bank's 2014 Second Quarter Estate Agent Survey, released on Thursday.

While the home maintenance and upgrades market remained “vastly” better than the levels it plumbed in 2008/9, the latest survey suggested “that the improving trend may have ended” late last year, FNB said in a statement.

The deterioration in levels of home maintenance through the first two quarters of this year “may have started to have a negative impact on hardware retail sales growth, whose real growth has slowed noticeably in recent months”.

FNB said further interest rate increases could worsen the situation.

“Given our expectation of further interest rate increases to come through in the remainder of 2014 and 2015, we expect some further moderate deterioration in the levels of home maintenance and upgrades in the near term,” it said.

The survey examines - based on estate agents' perceptions - various levels of home maintenance, the top one being the percentage of home owners “investing in their properties with a view to adding value”.

This was 10.5 percent of owners in the first quarter of this year, but this dropped to 9.5 percent in the second.

The next level was the percentage of homeowners fully maintaining their property and making some improvements.

“This percentage also declined mildly over the past two quarters, from 45.5 percent at the end of 2013, to 42.5 percent by the second quarter of (this year).”

The third level, the percentage of owners not improving, but still fully maintaining their homes, declined from 40 percent in the third quarter of last year, to 34.5 percent by the second quarter of this year.

The percentage of homeowners attending to basic maintenance only -which, FNB noted, would see homes “go backward” over time - had more than doubled, from six percent at the end of last year, to 12.5 percent in the second quarter of this year.

The lowest level, those owners allowing their homes to “get run down”, was 1.5 percent over the two quarters. - Sapa