Building industry heads for slowdown

Posted On Monday, 26 May 2008 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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ACTIVITY in the building industry is expected to slow significantly this year as residential and nonresidential property developers feel the strain of higher interest rates, inflation and electricity problems.

Construction IndustryInterest rates have gone up 4,5 percentage points since June 2006, pushing household debt costs to 11% of disposable income. This curbed consumer spending and halted a seven year rally in property prices.

With more interest rate hikes expected this year as the Reserve Bank battles to rein in inflation, analysts say the building industry is expected to weaken even further.

The sector has been experiencing a downturn since late last year, but the slowdown is said to be quite significant in the residential property development market.

Statistics SA figures released last week show building plans passed for the private sector in the first quarter were 1,7% down on the previous first quarter’s.

At the same time, residential building plans passed (half the total) fell 8,9% in a trend stemming from higher interest rates and lower property prices.

Wayne Basson, an industry analyst at international credit insurer Coface, said building plans passed for new houses levelled towards the end of last year, and were declining. This suggested a turn for the worse in building activity this year.

About 5%-8% fewer houses were expected to be built this year as developers felt the pinch of higher interest rates and building materials costs. The cost of materials such as cement and bricks rose as manufacturers tried to keep up with rising producer price inflation, which stood at 11,8% in March.

Cement sales, a key building indicator, peaked, and the growth rate fell sharply.

“It is anticipated that the number of residential buildings completed this year will decline 5%-8%. Even nonresidential building plans passed have declined, despite this sector expecting to show an upturn,” Basson said.

FNB industry analyst John Loos believes that the completions decline will be even higher than that.

“I believe that we may have a decline in completions in excess of 20% for 2008 in SA as a whole, which implies a significant further deterioration in the level of residential building activity,” said Loos.

He said electricity supply problems were also restricting the pace of new developments in some cases.

“On top of all of this, the global economic slowdown adds to prospects for slower economic growth, and thus job creation and residential demand in 2008,” he said.

Growth in the lower end of the housing market was, however, expected to remain robust as the government continued to spend substantially in a bid to reduce the housing backlog among the poor.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 12:18

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