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I’m getting quite annoyed with property economists in SA. Two phrases in particular annoy me “sluggish growth” and “consumer under pressure”. It seems as though these have become clichés !! The reason for my annoyance is that I’ve been in situations before where people were fooled by the talk when ignoring the facts.
So what are the facts?
One of the quickest industries to respond to consumers under pressure is the vehicle industry. So what’s happening there? Well NAAMSA figures for August are a 9.5% increase over August 2011 and 11.3% increase for calendar year to date. Where’s the “squeeze” in those figures, Mr. Economist?
Should we be cautious? Of course, interest rates are at a low, but it’s difficult to see them going up any time soon !!!
Lastly, I want to just correct a common misunderstanding. An Estate Agents report landed on my desk the other day. I saw it mentioned the stat of 75% household debt to income and then went on to express concern as to how South Africans could afford such lofty heights of debt explaining that 75% of someone’s gross salary was spent on servicing debt. This is incorrect and actually counter intuitive. We know that there are substantial deductions to gross income like tax, medical aid and provident funds. These can easily amount to 30% of your gross – so at an average of 75% given this Estate Agent’s explanation it would mean the average South African could not afford their debt. Actually, refer to fact 2, South Africans are affording their debt – more easily now than in the past 10 years !! The problem here is that the ratio was explained incorrectly by the Estate Agent. A 75% debt to household income ratio is not 75% of your monthly income going toward servicing debt but actually your debt is equivalent to 75% of your ANNUAL gross income – a BIG difference.
I hope this lands on a few economists desks :) In the mean time, happy selling.
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