South Africa's Major Metro Housing Markets See Increase in Sales Despite National Slowdown

Dr. Andrew Golding, CEO of the Pam Golding Property group, notes that although unit sales in South Africa's national housing market are slowing down, there has been a significant increase in sales in the five major metros during the post-pandemic period. Dr. Golding explains that if we exclude the 2021 rebound, or split those sales equally between 2020 and 2021, then the number of sales last year (2022) was the highest recorded in the past decade.

According to Lightstone statistics, the total number of homes sold in Cape Town, Tshwane, Johannesburg, Durban, and Gqeberha, combining freehold and sectional title sales, was 46,497 in 2022. This number is lower than the 48,438 recorded in 2021, which was a result of the rebound from the pandemic-induced slump in 2020.

Says Dr Golding: “Looking at total sales in the five major metro housing markets, Tshwane accounts for just over a third of all sales at 33.6%, followed by Cape Town at 24%. Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city and economic hub, accounted for just 20.2% of all sales in the five major metro housing markets. Durban came in at 12.2% and Gqeberha at 10%.

Metro % sales 2013 % sales 2022 Change mkt share
Tshwane 32.4 33.6 +1.2
Cape Town 24.1 24.0 -0.1
Johannesburg 22.6 20.2 -2.4
Durban 12.7 12.2 -0.2
Gqeberha 8.3 10.0 +1.7

Source: Lightstone

“Over the past 10 years, Gqeberha and Tshwane have gained the most market share of the total national units sold. Cape Town, surprisingly, was largely unchanged, but the trend towards semigration to numerous areas and towns across the Western Cape perhaps accounts for this.


“While the stats for the Durban Metro may seem lower than anticipated, they should be viewed against the backdrop of a residential property market in KwaZulu-Natal which has spread further out along the burgeoning North Coast, as well as along the South Coast.

Shift to sectional title

Dr Golding says that while there has been a slow but steady shift from freehold the sectional title sales at a national level, within the metro markets there has been a clearer shift – presumably because land. Therefore homes, are more expensive within metro areas due to a shortage of available land.

“In 2013, 44.6% of all sales in the five major metro housing markets were sectional titles. While the Covid lockdowns and work-from-home trend resulted in an increased demand among some for more spacious freehold properties in 2020 and 2021, by 2022 sectional title sales in these metros had risen to nearly 52% of total sales.

“As is often the case in housing markets, trends differ significantly between metro markets.

From 2013 to 2022, Gqeberha experienced the largest shift towards sectional title properties of +11.3%, followed by Johannesburg and Tshwane at +7.3% and +7.1% respectively, then Cape Town at +5.6% and Durban +4.5%. Some of the growth in sectional title sales could be attributable to increased demand from first-time home buyers in the wake of the aggressive interest rate cuts during the pandemic, which made buying a home more affordable to young adults who might previously have rented accommodation.”

ST % total sales 2013 2022 change
Tshwane 53.7 60.7 +7.1
Durban 52.7 57.1 +4.5
Gqeberha 40.9 52.2 +11.3
Johannesburg 38.7 46.0 +7.3
Cape Town 35.2 40.8 +5.6

Age profile

Adds Dr Golding: “Of interest is that the age profile of so-called ‘stable’ owners – who have owned their properties for at least 12 months – is fairly consistent across all five metro markets, with the exception that Cape Town has a higher-than-average percentage of retirees (32%) while Johannesburg has a lower-than-average share of retirees at 23%. Tshwane is slightly higher at 24% while Durban and Gqeberha both have 29%.

“As a result of its larger retiree population, Cape Town has fewer middle-aged, stable owners at 26% compared to 34% in Johannesburg, perhaps attributable to the fact that a large working population favours the country’s economic hub.

“The age profile of recent buyers (Feb 2022 – Jan 2023) – see chart above – also shows a large degree of similarity across the metro housing markets, except that Cape Town once again attracts a slightly older buyer, while Johannesburg has the largest percentage of middle-aged and young adult buyers.”

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