The Impact of Remote Working On Property Prices | SA Home Loans

The impact of remote working on property prices

If you currently work from home, you're part of a percentage of the population that's grown significantly over the past few years. Since 2019, Covid-19 lockdowns and public movement restrictions saw many employees temporarily working from home to help curb the disease's spread. Three years later, roughly 40% of South Africans earning over R10,000 a month have returned to the office. Since then, many continue to work at home with over a third of the country's middle class dividing their time between their home and the office. This movement has impacted how and where we live, which has naturally impacted the local property market. Here’s what this means for you if you’re a property owner – or looking to become one.

Who is working from home? 

It’s never been easier for South Africans to work from home. Increased access to the internet and its communication tools means that a person working from home can regularly contact their colleagues as well as share ideas, content and conversations with them in real-time. A growing number of jobs traditionally performed in offices can now be performed remotely. Other, newer, jobs can be performed without any face-to-face interaction with others required.

People working from home are doing so for many reasons. A 2018 report on commuter traffic times reveals that South Africa has the eighth-worst traffic congestion in the world, with local drivers spending an average of 36 hours in peak hour congestion every year. Not only does working from home help recoup this lost time but it also eliminates many of the costs associated with traveling to work including transportation fares or petrol, motor insurance and general car upkeep.

A survey into the motivations of those who work from home reveals that most of the people surveyed believe that being allowed to work from home makes them more productive, motivated and committed to their employer. It also indicates that employees will make future job decisions depending on an employer’s willingness to offer them a more flexible work situation.

How remote working has impacted the property market 

Recent increases in remote working have impacted the property market in tangible ways. It's kickstarted a 'semigration' trend, which has seen South Africans reevaluate their choice of location when choosing a residential property.

Past property owners had to consider their proximity to their workplace when choosing a home or their proximity to central public transport routes or main roads. As this is no longer necessary, many South Africans are moving away from urbanised metropolitan areas that often come with a higher cost of living. They’re increasingly opting for areas that are more affordable and offer a better quality of life for themselves and their family. Popular areas include coastal and inland suburb towns that promise reduced crime levels and a slower-paced way of living.

Many people working from home are also reevaluating how well their current homes are meeting their needs — whether or not they’re interested in relocating. Depending on the nature of their work, individuals can find themselves needing a dedicated working space that offers them privacy and a place to securely set up their computers, tools and equipment.

Loadshedding is currently posing a constant threat to productivity, and this will impact remote workers more than those who work in an office. It means that remote workers might consider moving to a property equipped with solar power energy generation or an apartment in a generator-equipped building to complete their work and avoid missing any deadlines.

What should remote workers consider when buying a property? 

Finding a property that supports your remote work can mean evaluating it using different criteria. Here are some of them: 

  • E-infrastructure: According to the fourth annual edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index, South Africa has one of the worst e-infrastructure scores in the world, with our internet speed and stability worse than the global average. When selecting a property, it’s beneficial to determine if the area is currently supported by broadband infrastructure and how many internet service providers can offer you connectivity to your home. This can mean that homes in remote areas are unsuitable for your needs.
  • Cost of living: Many South Africans who are able to work remotely are considering relocating to coastal areas to live a more relaxed lifestyle. It’s worth bearing in mind that properties in many coastal towns in South Africa are already sought after by locals and tourists alike. Homes in these areas can cost thousands more per square metre and due to the lifestyles of those living in the area, the cost of living for these towns can also be higher than average.
  • Space: The average South African household consists of at least three people. When seeking a property where you can comfortably work from home, you’ll need to ensure there’s sufficient space for every family member to go about their daily functions without disturbing you. You’ll also need to consider your proximity to your neighbours and if your working hours or the nature of your work could negatively impact them. 
  • Affordability: It’s important to balance a potential property’s affordability with its benefits. Being able to work from home can allow you to save money you’d usually spend on transportation and office-related costs such as work clothing and packed lunches. However, a property that costs more than a specific amount can cancel out these benefits completely.

The world of work is changing, and so have the homes that we live in. Making the decision to change your surroundings is a big one, which is why you should only consult experts when seeking out financing for your new home. SA Home Loans can help you with this, so contact us today for more information.

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