Factors affecting property acquisition in the current economic meltdown.
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The price of property in South Africa has come under debate during the last few years. After a four-year boom during which prices soared, the property market is in crisis, with consumers facing a desperate struggle to obtain finance to either purchase or build homes. Towards the latter part of 2007 and early 2008 the tides began to change and so did the reversal of positions to now being a buyers market. Many who have over extended themselves in terms of mortgages are now sitting with unpaid mortgage bonds and stand the chance of their homes being repossessed as they are unable to meet the instalments. The next best alternative is to resort to renting until the crisis subsides and the economy settles itself. Purchasing property is a crucial decision in ones lifetime and it can be an expensive one. It binds one to a long term commitment and the problem remains one of not obtaining the adequate knowledge of factors that influence the buyers or lessees as they undergo the often extensive process of searching for and deciding on whether to buy a home or rent especially in uncertain times. This research sets out as a main aim to investigate the important factors that one needs to take cognisance of when deciding on whether to buy or rent a property in the current economic situation. It outlines four key research objectives around the following variables in consumer literature as well as the current economic situation: i.e. risk, family life stage, financial situation, tax implications and investing options. The study adopted an exploratory and qualitative research design employing a survey (questionnaire) as its main data collection instrument administered by a face to face interview with six respondents. The sample comprised of six estate and letting agencies in the Durban and surrounding area that were willing to participate in the research. It is thereby followed by a practical case study highlighting the financial implications attached to the decision to rent or buy respectively. The study finds that the stage one is in in the family life cycle has an influence and is significant when deciding whether to buy or to rent, recommending that investors and estate agents should seek to understand this in order that they tailor their marketing, developments and sales efforts effectively. On the level of financing and risk, the study finds that individuals that are financially distressed would rather rent in times like these as the need to have a deposit and the tighter lending criteria is not advantageous. The study finds that most people wish to sit out the storm before engaging in a twenty to thirty year commitment. Investors are found to be investing in property as buy-to-let options and most of them are buying cash. The property option as an investment is very much alive and lucrative to those who are able to obtain financing or have surplus cash on hand. On the level of the tax implications the study finds that it is a significant factor as many do not have funds for transfer duty and legal transferring costs. The study finds that a decision to buy would preferably be from a developer directly to alleviate transfer duty costs.