This research considers the changing spatial characteristics of the South African commercial property market in in the period 1995-2015.   

While historic Apartheid city planning continues to have a profound impact on the location of residential and commercial properties in South Africa, the present spatial form of South African cities is also being determined by market driven investor decisions, including their response to the reigning institutional environment. Investors not only respond to the “rules of the game “, but are also influenced by the availability of infrastructure and the quality of the management of the urban environment.  

In recent years this has resulted in the decentralisation of commercial space, the development of out-of- town shopping centres, the neglect of certain nodes, and a strong institutional investor focus on the commercial property sector.

Based on industry data provided by Industry associations and the MSCI / IPD, this research explores the spatial outcomes in the commercial property sector.   The research adopts an institutional and behavioural economic approach which juxtaposes public policy decisions, the structure of the market, and the decisions made by market players. The research provides a yet unexplored perspective into the impact of formal as well as informal institutional arrangements on property market outcomes in South Africa. The study considers data and GIS mapping for the period 1995- 2015 and is limited to the Johannesburg and Cape Town property markets.

By providing an understanding of private sector decision making, the research results provide an opportunity to inform public sector policy formulation and to improve the understanding of the impact that property market interventions have for spatial market outcomes in the commercial property sector.