Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

THE end of the major strike disruptions of late 2012 should lead to some better economic growth quarters early in 2013, but the housing market has begun the year on a very weak economic footing, John Loos, FNB’s household and property sector strategist, said on Thursday.

"We expect house price growth for the year 2013 as a whole to be slightly more subdued than 2012, and pencil in a nominal average rise of 2.5% for the year," Mr Loos said.

With consumer price inflation expected to average 5%-6% in 2013, that implied a further fall in real prices, he said.

Mr Loos highlighted recurrent issues such as ongoing financial pressure for many households, an overhang of the credit boom of the 2000s, which suggested affordability remained a priority for many in the housing market.

Homeowners would also still have to contend with above-inflation increases in municipal rates and utilities tariffs, which could exert further pressure on house prices, especially on the higher-priced and larger-sized end of the market.

Although Mr Loos said further economic weakness could lead to further interest rate reductions, recent years had suggested the Reserve Bank was reluctant to cut, and any downward movement such as the lone rate cut in July 2012 was likely to be almost insignificant.

"Finally, the upside of expected very low price growth in 2013, for future aspirant investors at least, is that we would expect yields on housing to broadly increase further, as they have been doing gradually since after the boom years, slowly improving property’s attractiveness as an asset class," Mr Loos said.