South Africans’ participation in the digital economy is increasing annually and this trend will undoubtedly have an impact on the property market.
Local internet research company World Wide Worx released figures recently that indicate that at the end of 2013, approximately 13.8 million South Africans were using the internet and, of these, 4.6 million were highly active and experienced users of the internet. These 4.6-million users represent the effective level of digital participation in the online economy in South Africa.
Arthur Goldstuck from World Wide Worx said that the digital participation curve for experienced internet users will climb fast from now until the end of the decade. The 4.6 million 2013 figure grew from 3.9 million at the end of 2012 (+18%) and from 2014, this number is forecast to grow by over 20% a year (more than a million) for a number of years to reach 17.2m in 2020.
David de Waal, CEO of Steeple, South Africa’s first low cost estate agents who operate online, believes that the projected increase in experienced internet users in SA will impact the property market significantly: “Experienced users have witnessed how businesses that don’t adapt to the internet are overtaken by their online competitors. Pre-internet businesses like travel agencies, book sellers, or music shops are obvious examples. We predict that the same fate will befall traditional estate agencies.”
De Waal also notes that the proportion of buyers who search online for properties is increasing all the time and in developed countries can be 90% or more. This means the power of property portals such as Property24 or PrivateProperty is set to increase, whereas the advertising revenue of property ads in newspapers will continue to slide.
David de Waal (CA(SA))
Steeple – Low cost estate agents