Year-on-year house price growth in the first quarter of 2013 remained slow, according to the latest FNB House Price Index for March…

Compared to the last quarter of 2012 there were signs of improvement

“Examining the house price data on a quarterly basis, the first quarter year-on-year growth rate was three percent, and this was slower than the 5,8 percent of the final quarter of 2012,” FNB said in a statement.

The average price of homes bought was R850 036

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“From a mild decline of -0,6 percent, the quarter-on-quarter average house price growth rate returned to positive territory to the tune of +0,4 percent.

“This is early days, but may signal the start of some rising price growth momentum after a lull in the late stages of 2012, which was in line with a significant economic growth slump in the second half of 2012.”

Better balance between demand and supply

Positive trends emerged from the FNB Estate Agent Survey, which hinted at a better balance between the demand and supply of residential properties.

“In it, the agents’ perceptions of residential demand improved noticeably in the first quarter of 2013, while the percentage of agents citing residential stock constraints also increased significantly.”

The average time homes remained on the market and the percentage of sellers having to accept below the asking price had not seen much decline.

“But should higher demand and significant stock constraints be sustained, one would expect such declines to ultimately take place.”

Looking ahead, a further rise in house price growth is forecast

“Examining the FNB House Price Index on a quarter-on-quarter basis, we did see a return to mildly positive growth in the first quarter of this year, after a brief decline in the previous quarter, and a further acceleration is expected in the second quarter, which would ultimately translate into a rise in year-on-year price growth at a later stage of this year.”

FNB said its expectation was that the year-on-year growth would average between four and five percent for 2013 as a whole.