The "rent or buy" debate becomes particularly relevant when times are tough, forcing both tenants and homeowners to weigh accommodation costs more carefully. FNB property strategist John Loos says the bank’s latest survey of estate agents suggests that a growing proportion of aspirant homeowners are holding back. And, more interesting, there has been a spike in the number of financially pressed home sellers opting not to buy another property but to rent instead. The percentage of sellers keen to rent their next home has jumped to 65.6% in the third quarter, up from 34% in early 2014 (see graph). Loos says the trend is in line with the economic stress and general pessimism among consumers. "It’s not only a recessionary economy that has prompted more households to put home buying on the back burner, but also concerns about SA’s longer-term political and policy future," he says. Loos expects a "significant" increase in the number of South Africans looking to rent in the near term. That...

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