A South African property specialist has called on the government to relax its work-permit regulations to increase economic growth through overseas property investments in South African homes.

Citing Australia as a model of what could be achieved, Barak Geffen, executive director of Sotheby's International Realty said it made more sense to attract talent to South Africa by making it easier for foreigners to invest in South African property.

Although South Africa offers affordable prime property, Mr Geffen told the country's Business Day that the general downturn in the property market was a concern.

In spite of rising house prices, he said that housing affordability had dropped and average consumer debt levels is lower than in many other countries, hampering a bigger property boom.

"South Africa is less risk-tolerant in using debt to finance investments in real estate outside of primary residences," he explained, which served to dampen "an artificial boom effect".

Australia, by contrast, has a workforce that is 25 per cent foreign and is more open to overseas property investments, allowing its economy to continue accelerating.

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