Income chasers who have in recent years become accustomed to receiving double-digit increases in dividend payouts will no doubt be disappointed by the lower growth numbers reported by real estate counters in recent weeks. Analysts expect dividend (often referred to as distribution) growth to slow to around 6% for the listed property sector as a whole this year. That is still slightly ahead of inflation, but noticeably down from the average 9% achieved by JSE-listed property stocks in 2017. One of the themes that has emerged from recent results is that most SA-focused property companies are experiencing an uptick in vacancies across their office, retail and residential portfolios. When it gets harder to let out empty space, landlords are forced to become more negotiable on rentals. And when rental growth slows — or dips, as in the case of some companies — dividend payouts to investors grow at a slower rate. So far, the only property companies that have achieved double-digit dividend ...

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