Several arguments now once again being mooted by those in favour of property restrictions on foreigners, said Clarke, have already been dealt with by the Institute of Estate Agents in SA in 2006.
The following was then pointed out:
- That less than five percent of South African land is owned by foreigners;
- That foreigners and their agents bargain as hard as South African property buyers and do not therefore markedly affect prices;
- That on their visits to South Africa foreign owners tend, on average, to stay for six to 12 weeks and spend considerably more than South Africans living in their areas; and
- That a fairly large number (perhaps 20 percent) not only encourage friends to come to this country, but also end up investing in local businesses.
"This ties in with our experience," said Clarke. "Time and again when we have arranged for a foreigner to take over a property in South Africa we find that he becomes interested in some local enterprise and puts money into it."
The government itself benefits from foreign property ownership, added Clarke, because like South Africans, foreigners pay transfer duties, rates and taxes and, when they sell their properties, capital gains tax. Furthermore, the payment of this is ensured by legislation making the agent and conveyancer responsible for holding back the required sum.
Another argument put forward against foreign property ownership, said Clarke, is that foreigners are inclined to put land to "undesirable or unproductive" uses such as game farms or golf estates which cater primarily for the affluent.
"This, again, is not a valid point," said Clarke, "because the plain truth is that rezoning of land in South Africa is a process that is almost invariably resisted by provincial and municipal authorities and, in the few instances where it has been allowed, it has usually been South Africans who have been the proposers and the beneficiaries.
"To conclude, therefore," said Clarke, "stoking up anti-foreign sentiment may be good politics but economically, in the view of almost all of us involved in property, it makes no sense at all."