South African house prices rose 0.5 percent in March from a year ago as the recovery from the country’s first recession in 17 years gathered pace, according to Standard Bank Group Ltd. (SBK), Africa’s biggest lender.
The median house price rose to 550,000 rand ($75,925), after dropping an annual 1.9 percent in February, the Johannesburg-based lender said in an e-mailed report today.
South Arica’s central bank has cut its benchmark interest rate seven times since December 2008, reducing it to 6.5 percent to spur consumer spending as the economy slipped into recession. The lower lending rates sparked demand for housing loans and helped growth to resume in the third quarter of last year.
“We have seen a sizeable increase in the number of loans granted, supported by the loosening of credit criteria announced at the beginning of September last year, stronger economic growth and an improvement in household confidence,” Standard Bank said. “House price growth has turned positive and is set to improve gradually during the remainder of the year.”
Standard Bank calculates the index from the median house price of mortgage applications it receives.
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