SONA lacked fuel to boost property market - Seeff

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA) lacked the excitement needed to boost the economy and property market, according to Samuel Seeff, chair of Seeff Property Group.

In his view, it offered very little new from last year and is unlikely to boost business and investor confidence, desperately needed to re-energise the economy and property market.

At the same time Seeff welcomed the commitment to speed up the granting of title deeds to beneficiaries of subsidised housing projects and noted the ongoing focus on transformation in the property sector.

The Real Estate Business Owners of SA (Rebosa), supported by the property sector, is already playing an active role in regard to various matters around the proposals contained in the Draft Property Practitioners Bill.

Seeff said that on the whole, the world is watching the South African story of poor economic decisions, a shift to populist politics and instability unfold.

"We need to shift the narrative to positive sentiment if we are going to turn the economy back to growth and investment. The effect of a poor economy is a weakened property market with slow volumes and stalling prices. A good property market needs a good economy. People need a reason to invest, we should be encouraging that, not scare them away with populist policies and higher taxes," said Seeff.

"Only business and investment can create jobs and wealth needed for poverty alleviation and upliftment. This needs a climate of real action in regard to wasteful expenditure and corruption, governance and especially state capture that only benefit a few."

READ: Property experts weigh in on 2017 outlook

Seeff said investors need to know that their money is safe.

"People want to live and invest in neighbourhoods and cities that are well governed as so clearly demonstrated by the Cape property market story and shift to the DA in the other major metros," said Seeff.

"South Africa is now one of the top tourist destinations, people want to visit and want to invest, but they need security for that. They do not want to be penalised with higher transfer duty and taxation."

In his way, all this has done is scare away top end buyers who now rather upgrade and extend and put the rest of their money offshore.

"Without entering the land debate and fully acknowledging the need to address this, hasty talk such as around restricting foreign buyers before there is even a proper understanding of what actually constitutes a foreign buyer needs to cease. All it does is scare investors away," said Seeff.

"The same with the proposed agricultural land restrictions: South Africa has a broad agricultural base with some farming regions such as the Karoo requiring up to 200 000ha to be commercially viable. In this context, the 12 000ha restriction is a very poorly thought out number."

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