AA - 2021

Author:  Amanda Cuba
COO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa
11 August 2021

The dream of homeownership in SA | ‘Only 1 in 2.5 households formally registered’

Though it is considered commonplace in some households to own property, for others, homeownership is a dream that many aspire to achieve.

Many modern buyers are the first to own property within their family and have done so despite their parents being unable to provide financial support through intergenerational wealth. To understand just how common the homeownership trend is in South Africa, a report published by Lightstone states there is only one formal (deeds registered) property for every 2.5 households living in South Africa.

“Entering the real estate market without having anyone to stand as surety for debt or to help carry the costs of living while saving up for a deposit, bond registration fees, transfer duties, and other related costs, is no easy feat. For this reason, first generation homeowners tend to face a far more challenging journey into homeownership,” says Amanda Cuba, co-regional owner and COO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“They are often also faced with the double-edged sword of having to support the rest of the family as well as cover the costs of owning the home.”

According to Lightstone, house sales have remained static, but values have increase.

“Despite volumes being static, the average price paid for a property increased from R830 000 in 2011 to R1.1m
over the last 10 years, an appreciation of just 15% over the period, averaged at 1.5% per annum.

According to Lightstone, Property sales (where a value is attached to a transaction) are stuck on around 220 000 a year and
have not yet recovered to the pre-recession levels of 2007 (335 000), a fall of around 30%.

“More than 700 000 new homes have been added to the country’s property stock during this time, but we still
have only one formal (deeds registered) property for every 2.5 households.”

The Stats SA General Household survey for 2019 reveals that 12,7% of the population lives in informal dwellings and 35,4% live in homes that are either rented or occupied rent-free. This points to a large portion of the population who have never owned (or possibly even lived in) their own formal, deed’s registered home.

Although far from where we ought to be, we are still experiencing positive change in this regard. The same Lightstone report also states that ‘black females own 215 000 more properties in 2021 than the 690 000 owned in 2011’.

The General Household Survey also states that 57,1% of RSA live in homes that they owned and fully paid off.

“While challenging, homeownership is possible for first-generation buyers. To make things somewhat more manageable, those with a household income of between R3 501 to R22 000 could apply for a housing subsidy through the FLISP programme, which is designed for first-time home buyers to assist with purchasing a home,” Cuba suggests.

FLISP is a government homeownership assistance programme for households that fall within the ‘gap housing market’ whose income is between R3 501 – 22 000. These households do not qualify for Government’s free housing programme and do not earn enough to afford an entry-level housing unit in the market. FLISP can be used as a cash contribution or deposit to supplement an approved home loan, and it reduces the overall outstanding balance and monthly repayments for the consumer.

MDW Inc. Property Management specialist Anele Matakane, highlights that in the Western Cape first-time homeowners can activate the FLISP subsidy within the first 12-months of their bond. In Gauteng, it’s as little as three-months after registration. Those in the Eastern Cape have the shortest stick of the draw, with administration of FLISP restricted to before registration takes place.

“An overlooked aspect of first-generation homeownership is the lack of knowledge transfer from parent to children. Those who have grown up in homes where parents owned property are more likely to be familiar with some of the concepts around owning property. For those who are unfamiliar with homeownership, it could be helpful to chat to a professional to get some free advice on the topic,” Cuba suggests.

Beyond this, first-generation home buyers might also benefit from having a conversation with a real estate professional to seek out some advice around homeownership and property investments.

As a final word of advice, Cuba encourages young buyers never to give up on their dreams of homeownership, “Through careful spending and good saving habits, homeownership may well be within grasp.”

The original article can be viewed here:


  • SA coastal town hot spots with homes listed under R2.5m – 5 August 2021 – view here:
  • New homeowners are not taking advantage of over R100m in housing subsidies – 15 March 2021 – view here:
  • Emerging township trends | ‘Prices double, creating the temptation to sell’ – 10 August 2021 – view here: