Cyber holiday home surfers riding the net

Cyber holiday home surfers riding the net

South Africa's largest property listings website has reported a surge in viewings of traditional holiday hot spots as more buyers shortlist homes through online searches ahead of arriving on vacation to see them.

"Holiday homes, by nature, are not in the immediate vicinity of the buyer," says Johan Strydom, General Manager of www.propertygenie.co.za, South Africa's biggest property listing website with over 125 000 listings.

"This makes the house hunting process tedious as purchasers are constrained by time and location. But, with the advent of the property website, searching for and researching a second home is far simpler and quicker.

"We have noticed a strong seasonal pattern of prospective buyers getting a shortlist of their favourites together and contacting agents through the website before going away."

Strydom says that property websites are designed to quickly sort through a comprehensive database.

"They are practical in that buyers get a good idea of what is on the market, the price range and types of houses available in the different areas without having been to the area at the time."

The usual summer holiday playgrounds such as Plettenberg Bay, in the Garden Route and Camps Bay in Cape Town are well covered by propertygenie.co.za.

There are for example over a thousand properties registered for sale in the Plettenberg Bay area on properygenie.co.za, catering for both the higher- and the lower-end of the market.

"Through a property website, buyers are able to compare prices with the towns in the same vicinity, such as Sedgefield and Wilderness, but at a fraction of the cost" says Strydom.

But it's not only the most popular holiday spots that are included.

"People are also starting to look at other, more unusual, locations to move away from the hordes that flock to the popular holiday destinations" says Strydom.

In recent years there has been a rise in popularity in smaller towns such as Clarens on the border of Free State and Lesotho. The small town is only 3 hours from Johannesburg and is admired for its sandstone mountains, horse riding and trout fishing.

"The growing popularity of towns, such as Clarens, is reflected in the website" says Strydom. "There are almost 100 homes for sale in Clarens at any one time on the website."

Almost 500 000 UK households own a second home with 60% of Britons' holiday homes located in the UK.

South Africans are following this trend as holiday homes are no longer confined to the rich or retired but also middle-income earners. This is due to the increase in property prices allowing homeowners to borrow against their primary properties.

Hello ooba news

The implementation of the National Credit Act in June this year caused a slowdown in mortgage approvals as banks and applicants adjusted to the new regulations - but now SA's leading originator reports that approvals are returning to pre-NCA levels.

South Africa's largest property listings website has reported a surge in viewings of traditional holiday hot spots as more buyers shortlist homes through online searches ahead of arriving on vacation to see them.

The property market's rapid price escalation has cooled in the last year on the back of higher interest rates and the short term effects of the National Credit Act (NCA), but these factors are conspiring to provide a 'sweet spot' for buyers says SA's leading bond originator.

Property is a worthwhile investment but for younger people hoping to buy it is difficult to take the first step, but not impossible says Rhys Dyer, Chief Executive of ooba, South Africa's leading bond originator that places one in five South Africans in their homes.

"Rather invest in simple, streamlined furniture," she says. "Try to have pieces that have legs and are not boxy. Not only will you have created space but also the functionality of the room improves as well."