Sitting down to write this blog, I need to pinch myself at the state of the market. It really has proven resilient and prevails despite the much bad news. In its August Origination overview, ooba states that: “Application volumes for August 18 were 4.3% higher mom and 10.5% lower YoY.” That’s very good against the news, and just a fraction higher than the previous number of about 8.5%. So is the market slowing? Yes, but it is proving good against the backdrop.

In turn, ABSA: Household credit and mortgage advances: 28 September 2018 states that private mortgage advances have grown at 4.4%. The implication of that is that house prices have remained around that level, as we know, and little has happened to the volume of transactions. I know I’m broad-stroking this information, but to bore with the details is not the point of this blog. All I’m trying to say is that things are holding up well under the circumstances. If you agree, the question then is what’s going on?

We have an Emerging market meltdown with one of the most traded currencies in the world. From its best just after the President’s election of mid-R11’s to close to R15 today, the Rand has certainly had a run, but seems to have settled in the R14-15 range. Yesterday’s headline in the Sunday Times, “No, No. Nene” and news that has just arrived of his impending resignation is off-the-page bad, but we’ll probably know by the end of the day. Man, I can’t help feeling the wrong guy is being taken to the gallows especially after reading his letter of forgiveness. He’s got mine, for sure – what a man to have stood up and said “I was there”, but then he got fired for saying, “No nuclear!”. The wrong guy is falling and the ex-President is lounging at his fire pool. Flippit and the Poor suffer the rap of the markets and the currency. Unbelievable!

Unless I’ve missed it, the SOE’s seem to be on somewhat of an even keel. I’m really not sure how Eskom has staved off bankruptcy on a R20bn loan from the banks. It needs R60bn to be paid by errant municipalities, probably the same lot that are letting sewerage pour into the Vaal, but that money won’t be coming either, but somehow, it and SAA still seem to be flying. Understanding a little of SAExpress, they seem to be spluttering to lift off as well. Good on you, Pravin; we appreciate your 18-hour days. Politically, we now have some sort of inquiry into attempts to remove CR. Politics is dirty at the best of times and despite the “No, not me?!”, it seems our President may be flexing some muscle. We’ll see as Election 2019 approaches with speed.

There is so much more to state and speculate [which most of this really is, in all honesty], but the one thing I enjoy is that everything is in the open in a free Press. I’m sure that much takes place in cigar-filled lounges out of the public eye, but the view from the tip of the iceberg is still perspective-enhancing. Much better than having nothing, with State-owned channels and Press pumping out lies. Instead of meandering, let me draw to a close. What has all this got to do with the property market?

The market is holding up against an avalanche of counter-market news. Resilient to the core, good men and women are buying and selling houses and I note that Africans, some 64% of transactions in the ooba data, are spending on property. There is a barrage of bad news, but in many parts of our country, it is business as usual. Is it the edge of a precipice or the foundation for gradual success? I like to think the latter. Someone who lives in our town was quoted as saying, “I’m not an eternal optimist, but I am addicted to hope.” Maybe, I’m just like the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an old optimist despite the evidence. Where are you in the continuum from despair to hope? One thing is for sure, wherever you are placed, so are those around you; those dear souls “feel” your energy every day – positive or negative – you rub off on them.

Yours in Property.

Jack Trevena
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