Young people are buying fewer houses, cars


South Africans under the age of 35 buy less and less property and vehicles than ten years ago.

The latest data from the company Lightstone shows that South Africans in this age group were responsible for 45% of property transactions over R20 000 in 2012. Last year this percentage was 38%, a drop of 7% over the past decade.

In 2012, those under 35 bought a total of 39% of new cars and 45% of property (in 87 675) over R20 000. In 2017, this dropped back to 38% (69,304 transactions).

“Property sales suggest that, in addition to falling property transfers, people under 35 are switching to the lifestyle benefits offered by sectional title properties. They also buy property for the first time later in life and if they do buy property, they buy as sole owners,” says Hayley Ivins-Downes, Head of Lightstone Property.

Most buyers under 35 buy properties between R500 000 and R1 million (44%), followed by properties between R1 million and R2 million (39%), between R20 000 and R500 000 (34%) and finally properties over R2 million (27%).

The average price of purchases by this age group over the past ten years has increased from R700 000 in 2012 to R930 000 in 2017 and R1.2 million last year. However, the increase is largely attributed to house price inflation.

The specific age group also buys a property as a sole owner; this figure stood at 69% in 2012 and rose to just under 75% last year.

These consumers are increasingly choosing to own sectional title properties and their interest in full ownership is declining, while interest in estate properties remains steady.

“The shift is consistent with a preference for city life that emphasizes comfort and lifestyle amenities. This trend is also influenced by the younger generation’s desire to live closer to work, reducing commuting time and providing easy access to leisure activities, restaurants and shopping centres.”

These vehicles are popular

According to the data, there was also an 8% drop in South Africans under the age of 35 buying vehicles. This group was responsible for 39% of purchases in 2012 – a figure that dropped to 31% in 2022.

Volkswagen, Ford and Suzuki’s popularity with the youth has increased over the past five years.

The purchases of so-called “crossover” vehicles among those under 35 climbed from around 3% in 2012 to just under 15% last year and are considered the most popular type of car among young buyers.