Drought Dulls Thirst for Some of Africa's Most Expensive Homes

  • Cape Town taps may be turned off in April because of drought
  • Slowdown in house-price inflation may intensify: Standard Bank

Property sits by the Molteno reservoir as Table mountain stands beyond in Cape Town.

Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Cape Town’s water crisis is more than an inconvenience for home owners. It’s also affecting the value of their property, which includes some of Africa’s most expensive real estate, according to data from Standard Bank Group Ltd., South Africa’s biggest lender by assets.

House price inflation in the city, while still outstripping the rest of the country, slowed to 9.7 percent in the fourth quarter, from as high as 15 percent two years ago, Standard Bank economist Siphamandla Mkhwanazi said in a note Friday. And it’s just the beginning, he warned.

“Although it would be difficult to separate and quantify the reasons for this easing growth, the Cape Town water crisis will have exacerbated it,” Mkhwanazi said. “The drought, and government’s slow response, will affect consumer sentiment negatively; demand for property is therefore expected to suffer and, ultimately, further dampen house-price inflation.”

The country’s top tourist destination is in the throes of the worst drought on record, and water levels in its six main supply dams have plummeted to an average of 26.3 percent, from more than 90 percent four years ago. With the winter rainy season still about four months away, residents may find themselves lining up for a daily ration of 25 liters (6.6 gallons) each from April 16 unless water usage declines sharply.

The drought has led to job losses in agriculture, depressing household income growth, Mkhwanazi said. “The diminishing relocation of high net worth individuals to the Western Cape” is also affecting demand, he said.

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