House of the Rising Price

My boss and I were en route to a meeting yesterday morning (the fun just never stops, does it?) and the conversation turned, as it inevitably does, to property prices. I have found that it is almost impossible to have a conversation with a Capetonian without this particular topic cropping up. Everyone seems to know of someone (or someone’s cousin’s friend’s brother-in-law) who bought a beach house in the ‘nineties for fifty bucks and now it’s worth millions.

Of course there are genuine success stories, but there is a kind of frenzied obsession with the property market that is reminiscent of the old pyramid schemes, like ‘Kubus’ and the aeroplane game. The weird thing is that even though house prices are reaching stratospheric levels, the bubble shows no sign of popping any time soon. Some experts in the doom and gloom camp have been preaching that “current trends are unsustainable” and that “the end is nigh” for years. Many of these experts have subsequently gone bald as a result of excessive head-scratching.

The Cape Town property experience appears to be the old ‘location, location, location’ principle writ large. About the only people who can afford to buy houses here are drug lords, retired African dictators and estate agents.

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