Mitchells Plain is a vibrant residential area with good infrastructure, schools and public transport. With house prices starting from as low as R200,000-R350,000, it is one of the most affordable residential belts in Cape Town, especially for first time buyers, says Seeff's manager for the area, Louise Mentoor.
With the flat house price growth and low interest rate, it is an opportune time to get first timers into their own homes, but buyers should to take note of what they need to secure bond finance, says Mentoor. Before shopping for a home, buyers should get information on the bank requirements and need to understand that it is a tedious process. A good credit record is vital as is the necessary paperwork and having cash available for a deposit and the transaction costs.
Vitally too is the need for the banks to relook their approach and credit granting policies pertaining to the area, she says. While the tightening of the credit granting criteria following the introduction of the credit regulations have been necessary, the outlook is now too conservative. The recent introduction of the credit amnesty also seemed to have led to a further tightened of the lending criteria. There is generally also a lack of transparency when it comes to the reasons for bond declines. More disclosure from the banks will enable real estate to better guide buyers and also sellers in terms of issues such as pricing and sell-ability.
There is a great willingness to buy and we can get anything up to ten offers on a property, but then only a single bond approval and generally only at about 80% of the asking price. In some instances, the buyer may be approved, but the transaction is declined due to building regulation problems, small plot sizes or over-exposure in certain areas. This really does need a fresh look by the banks, says Mentoor. Take Retreat Mews for example, it is a very neat and affordable sectional title complex with excellent financials, yet we are unable to secure bonds due to over-exposure.
We even find buyers who have been pre-qualified by a particular bank, declined by the same bank or granted a reduced amount. The deposit requirements are too high and Mentoor says that in an attempt to secure their own home, buyers will then take a personal loan at a higher interest rate than bond finance to fund the deposit. This makes little sense and only puts people further into debt.
Now is certainly an opportunity time for the lower end of the market to get onto the housing ladder and start building personal wealth, but Mentoor says that sadly many buyers have given up on trying to secure a bond and simply continue renting. In the Tafelsig area for example, more than half of the residents are renting. Yet, with homes costing as little as R200,000 here, there is every reason to encourage more home ownership.
In an attempt to work with local buyers and assist them with the issues pertaining to home ownership, Seeff together with Ooba are now conducting buyer pre-qualification sessions at their Mitchells Plain office, concludes Mentoor.
When it comes to centrality combined with cosmopolitan living, there are few areas that can compete with Green Point and the massive surge in the demand for property here over the last two years confirms this, say Seeff's sectional title agents for the area, JP Ricketts and Ayeh Khalatbari. Stretching from the colorful condominiums of De Waterkant down to Harbour's Edge below Prestwich Street, this relatively small neighbourhood boasts architectural variety to meet just about every buyer's need.
In the last year, we have seen sales volumes climb to a total of 243 units to the combined value of almost R500 million. This is only marginally below the 2008-highs of 276 sales considering that we are effectively still operating under challenging economic conditions, say the agents.
While the average national price growth over the last few years has remained flat at between 6-8% in nominal terms, the suburb has seen its average price surge by 35% from around R1,7 million in 2008/9 to R2,3 million. The demand over the last year has been such that most of the stock on the market has been depleted resulting in a real opportunity for smart sellers to capitalise on the buoyant demand, say the agents. An added incentive is that the price gap (average difference between the asking and selling price) is down to around 5%.
The attraction of the suburb is obvious, say the agents. The location between the CBD and Atlantic Seaboard and diverse selection of trendy properties makes it a top choice, especially with young professional and family buyers as is clearly demonstrated by the demand and sales activity. Development here has made it a real hub of convenience; the Cape Quarter lifestyle village for example alone containing dozens of stores. With some of the hippest bars and clubs, boutiques, cafés and restaurants in the area, it now boasts a real village atmosphere akin to that of New York's Greenwich Village.
The agents also say that one of the suburb's greatest attributes is how it caters for the physically active. The enormous urban park developed around the Cape Town Stadium for example provides a scenic jogging/walking trail to the Sea Points promenade. There are also top gyms in the suburb including one of the city's most acclaimed yoga studios.
From a sales perspective, the demand for property is almost across the board, but especially for bachelor pads around the R1 million price range, one-bedroomed units up to R1,5 million and two bedroomed apartments up to R2 million. Given the demand and fact that buyers are prepared to pay almost full asking price, there is now an excellent opportunity for sellers here, says Ricketts and Khalatbari.
One of the most picturesque Cape Dutch farms neighbouring the highly-rated Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West has come onto the market, priced at R50 million plus VAT. The 14ha estate is on land that was portioned off when Vergelegen was sold in 1994. It includes a beautiful thatched Cape Dutch Manor House of almost 1,750sqm, four guest cottages and a large stable; all designed in the style of the surrounding wine estates. The superior finishes include high wooden doors, double sash windows with shutters and Yellow-wood floors and vaulted Parnavon-wood ceilings with brass chandeliers in the front reception rooms.
With the Helderberg Mountains as a backdrop and flanked by the Lourens River, few properties can compare with the scenic setting, stunning buildings and Oak-treed gardens on offer, says Seeff agent, Jane Steven. The estate is also surrounded by some of the country's top wine estates - Vergelegen, Morgenster and Lourensford. While an ideal residential estate, it is also a rare opportunity for an investor looking for a trophy Cape wine estate. The buildings offer easy conversion to a boutique hotel with a restaurant and winery and tasting room. The gardens are ideal for picnics, especially towards the river where there is also a lovely Lily pond, she says.
A long, Oak tree-lined driveway leads to the manor house that is fronted by the tranquillity of a pond and the river. The typical H-design includes a double-storey wing on either side of a double-volume central area. Massive double wooden doors open to the central part that comprises of the massive winter double lounge with a fireplace and a large summer lounge and dining area that opens to a terrace that surrounds a swimming pool and overlooks the beautiful gardens towards the river.
The right wing includes a large, 18-seater formal dining room, also with a fireplace and a Maple-wood kitchen with a laundry/utility room and a store room. Above this, is a glass-enclosed wine cellar along with a theatre room and additional store room that can be converted to a recreation room. The left wing includes the large main bedroom suite with a dressing room and his and her bathrooms. There are also a further five bedroom suites that open to balconies and stunning views. Also on the upper level of this wing is a spacious study and secluded library. To the side of the house is a tennis court.
A little distance away, are the four guest cottages; two one-bedroomed units and two three-bedroomed units, all opening to stunning views. The large stable can accommodate six horses and includes a tack room. There is also a shed as well as garaging for ten vehicles. The estate is fully secured. The property further includes an 8ha plum orchard, currently leased out at around R22,000 per annum, says Steven.
Surrounded by the majestic Hottentots Holland Mountains and rolling vineyards, Somerset West is regarded as one of the most scenic villages in the country. It is also conveniently close (only about 40-minutes' drive) to Cape Town and the airport, says the agent. The white beaches of the Strand are minutes away as is the Helderberg Nature Reserve. The relaxed country lifestyle is complemented by top class infrastructure including excellent schools, retail, medical and other facilities.
The Somerset West and Stellenbosch Wine Valley include some of the most sought-after wine estates in the country worth anything upwards of R50 to almost R200 million per estate. Aside from producing award winning wines, these are a major draw-card for visitors from across the globe and this property is an ideal investment opportunity for a buyer looking to capitalise on this, concludes the agent.
Surrounded by the towering Langeberg Mountains and nestled between the Keisie and Kingna Rivers in the western corner of Kannaland, the scenic village of Montagu is famous for its orchards, vineyards and Muscadel, local herbs, rock formations and healing hot mineral springs. It is also home to a stunning mix of country and historic homes (from Cape Dutch to Georgian, Neo-Gothic and Victorian) that is increasingly catching the eye of country and historic home buyers, says Seeff agent, Patruzchka Müller.
With just over two hours' drive from Cape Town, the village has become a popular getaway for Capetonians and visitors from the inland provinces while foreigners too are increasingly discovering the allure of the village, says the agent. Top class accommodation establishments, restaurants and activities such as the upcoming annual Wacky Wine Weekend' (5-8 June) all contribute to drawing thousands of visitors each year.
The demand for property here has improved markedly over the last year with sales up by over 50%. In 2012 for example, only about 144 property transactions to the value of just over R55 million were recorded compared to 222 worth almost R73 million last year. Aside from residential buyers, the growing influx of visitors has boosted the demand for weekend and country homes. The demand for tourism products such as hospitality establishments, art and boutique stores and restaurants have also boosted the demand for property and has of course increased business in the village, says Müller. A further boost has come from retirees who are opting for the good value and laid-back lifestyle as well as from an influx of new residents looking to swop urban with country living, she adds.
The village is a real gem for buyers and the property value on offer is excellent, especially when compared to other towns across the Cape Winelands, she says. In Montagu for example, vacant plots sell for as little as R230,000 to R375,000 for about 500-700sqm. Small cottages start from as low as R500,000 to R950,000 while larger homes sell for upwards of R1,2 million. Historic properties are especially popular not only for weekend homes or permanent residences, but for conversion to tourism products or business premises. These sell for upwards of just over R1,2 million for a small, two bedroomed cottage to just under R3,5 million for a rare circa 1895 Victorian landmark homestead, beautifully restored, that is on the market for the first time.
The property is located in the heart of the village and has served as the home of many well to do' residents over the years. It already has the market abuzz and the agent anticipates huge interest. The double-storey home is spacious at around 900sqm. While the interiors have been modernised, the character has been retained and the original finishes such as rare Oregon Pine windows, floors and open rafter Imbuia ceilings have been completed restored, says Müller. Additional finishes include lovely chandeliers and an imported vintage Pearl stove to keep the living areas warm during winter. A typical veranda stretches along the front and there are three dormer windows with Victorian trimmed gables set into the roof at the front end of the home.
The home includes six bedroom suites. The living areas include a grand lounge, dining room, Oregon-wood country kitchen and an entertainment/braai room with French doors that opens to a terrace around the swimming pool. There is also a pool room that can be converted to a gymnasium. The old attic (with an external staircase) has been revamped and includes two of the bedroom suites, lounge/family room, study and additional room suited for conversion to a library. The old stables have been converted to a spacious two-bedroomed apartment. The property further includes a double garage, laundry and store room.
While an ideal find for residential or second home buyers, Müller says that the property offers wonderful conversion and development potential. Since it is so spacious and includes six bedroom suites, you could quite easily convert it to a guest house and restaurant and still live on the premises.
Luxury buyers are heading back to the historic Constantia Valley according to Seeff agents, Shelley Kruger, Marie Durr and Janine Stevenson who recently sold seven luxury homes priced up to R17 million in the Upper Constantia area. After somewhat of a lull in demand, especially at the top end, activity is now buoyant. While buyers have mostly been locals, we have also seen a return of Joburg and foreign buyers as well as South African expat buyers looking to relocate back to the country, say the agents.
While on the whole, the sub-R10 million price band is still attracting most of the demand across the suburb, the buoyant activity has spilled into the upper end of the market. In the last year sales over R10 million have almost doubled to 24 compared to just 13 in the preceding period, advise the agents. Managing director for the Southern Suburbs, Andy Todd, says that sales activity on the whole has leaped by 28% since the post 2007/8 market contraction. In the year ending April, about 204 sales transactions to the value of almost R1,2 billion were concluded in Constantia. Comparatively, only about 160 properties, worth just under R877 million, sold during the corresponding 12-month period ending April 2010.
The rural character, generous land sizes and wonderfully diverse mix of homes add to the perennial charm of the suburb. For country lifestyle seekers, it is the quintessential choice, yet with top class infrastructure and amenities on hand. Laidback and with lovely walking, cycling and equestrian trails, it really does offer the best of both - country charm, yet city chic, say the agents. And, there is something to suit just about every buyer taste and budget, from historic to contemporary.
Mid-sized homes now sell for upwards of around R3,2 million to R9,8 million while luxury homes range upwards of around R10,5 million for a spacious, contemporary architectural home on a plot of over 2,600sqm to around R22 million for a stunning 2-acre (over 8,000sqm) estate with a magnificent historic homestead and panoramic views of Table Mountain and the False Bay coastline. This rare property is one of the few traditional homes of the area, located in sough-after Southern Cross Drive and is set to draw significant interest, says Kruger, Durr and Stevenson.
The home, built in the early 1900s was designed in an English country style by well-known architect, William (Billy) Grant who was responsible for landmarks such as the Alhambra and Colosseum Theatres and the building today known as Inn on the Square' on Greenmarket Square. It boasts luxury finishes including lead-paned windows, chandeliers, parquet and wooden floors in the living rooms and pressed ceilings in the dining room. The living areas include two lounges, both with fireplaces, a dining room, study and kitchen with a pantry and separate laundry. There are four bedrooms, the main suite on the lower level opens to the garden.
There are also two cottages on the property - a one-bedroomed unit and a two-bedroomed unit with a lounge, dining room and mezzanine level. Also in the garden, is a pool house with a sauna, shower and steam rooms and a gazebo with a braai, seating and wet bar that overlooks a swimming pool and Jacuzzi. The property further includes a staff suite, two-gated entry, double garage and security system. The plot (which is sub-divisible) includes a beautifully landscaped garden and borehole.
For more information, contact Seeff Southern Suburbs, Shelley Kruger, Janine Stevenson and Marie Durr on083 700 9001/073 168 4749/083 269 8608or021 794 5252or visitwww.seeff.com, web reference 318753.
Not even the onset of the freezing temperatures are keeping buyers away as the buying frenzy across the Southern Suburbs continues, says Seeff's managing director for the areas, Andy Todd. With multiple offers and better prices, sellers have much to smile about. A further boost is the return of investor-buyers who are not only back, but buying.
About 20% of our sales this year have been for investment purposes, mostly to buy-to-let investors, but we have also concluded a number of sales to renovators and speculators, says Todd. This is a big change from two to five years ago when investor buyers had largely fled the market, preferring alternative investment options to residential property.
The popular choices for buy-to-let investors are sectional title units in the suburbs of Rondebosch, Claremont, Kenilworth, mostly one and two-bedroomed apartments priced under R1 million although some have paid up to R2 million for the right apartment, says Todd. The relaxation in certain provisions of the zoning regulations last year has also seen demand for R4-zoned (high density development) land increasing.
Renovators have been flocking to the school-zone suburbs of Claremont, Rondebosch and Newlands and many have made good returns in a relatively short period. A four-bedroomed home in Lee Road, Claremont/Lynfrae, for example was bought for R1,9 million in July last year. The buyer then renovated and modernised the property with trendy finishes and, it has just been sold by agent, Debbie Chalmers for over R3 million; yielding a significant return in under a year, says the agent.
There are more serious buyers now than I have ever seen, adds Todd who has been in real estate since 1987. I have never seen a gap in the market like there is now and our agents are sitting with growing lists of waiting buyers on the back of stock shortages. Show house attendance for the right property is sky high.
Chalmers for example sold five homes to the value of R14,1 million in the suburb last month alone, all within one month of listing. Sales include a three-bedroomed renovator's dream' in Lynwood Road that attracted 56 families on one show day with two offers and sold for R2,85 million. Yet another fixer upper' in Chess Road (within the school catchment area) attracted 80 buyers and seven offers. It sold for in excess of the asking price of R2,6 million.
Lynfrae is currently attracting significant interest as it is seen as representing good value for money, has the major advantage of school proximity and zoning in certain pockets. Buyers are flocking to the area right now and for sellers, it is a good time to list and get a good price, concludes Chalmers.
Plett is back on the radar of holiday home buyers and they are spending anything upwards of R5 million to a record price of R45 million for a luxury beach house located in Beachy Head recently sold by Seeff, says the agency's principal, Kevin Engelsman. The previous highest price was achieved in 2011 at R24,5 million.
While residential buying still dominates, agent Alet Ollemans says that there has been a notable return of Joburg and Capetonian buyers. Five years ago, there were almost no sales here above the R10 million price mark. In the last year though, the agent has sold 8 luxury homes priced upwards of R10,2 million, including two sales at R18,5 million each, a R21,5 million sale and the record R45 million sale.
The property market has been on a gradual road to recovery in recent years, says Engelsman. Holiday makers have steadily made their return and with that the demand for holiday and second homes. Last year, about 272 property transactions worth R540 million were concluded in the village, just under half of it sold by Seeff.
It has been a very successful summer season for our agents and with almost 50 sales already under the belt for the first four months including several high value deals, we are on target to see further growth in holiday home sales this year, says Engelsman. Younger buyers are also increasingly investing in holiday homes, largely under the R1,5 million price band. Since early last year, vacant plots have also started selling and, while most buyers of these intend building holiday homes, many are simply investing now with the view to future capital growth, he adds.
Prices have largely settled down and sellers are now far more inclined to negotiate, something that has contributed to the buoyant activity, says Ollemans. While there is still plenty of value to be had at the bottom to mid-sector of the market, we are now seeing a shortage of Blue Chip beachfront homes and it is an opportune time for serious sellers to get good prices.
With the Tsitsikamma Mountains as a backdrop, forests, a nature reserve, rivers, the warm Indian Ocean and three Blue-Flag beaches, Plett is the popular playground of the country's well-to-do when it comes to weekend and holiday getaways. For water sport and adventure and nature lovers, it is a paradise while others can indulge in two pro-golf courses. The village is also renowned for its top class polo fields with an almost year-round calendar of tournaments.
Devoid of the hustle and bustle of Cape Town's Atlantic Seaboard and no traffic jams, you can kick back and enjoy a laid-back coastal lifestyle here. Over school holidays for example, it is not uncommon for families to come down for weeks and a whole month in December. Many holiday-home owners later retire here and, in recent years, we have seen a rise in permanent residents with many migrating here from the big cities, says Engelsman.
It was always just a matter of time before we would see the return of holiday and investment buyers, he adds. With the recent introduction of weekly flights from Cape Town and Joburg by CemAir, Plett is now even more accessible for weekend getaways and holiday makers and of course for those who already own a holiday home here.
Seeff Dolphin Coast, whose offices are in Ballito, took home two top awards at the recent Seeff National Awards for 2013 held on 21 May 2014 at Arabella Hotel & Spa near Kleinmond. For their market size (Division 2) they won both theNational Licensee of the Year Award, as well as the National Marketer of the Year Award. Criteria for these awards focus not only on sales figures, but on innovation, business strategy, market share and how the Seeff brand is represented in each licence area and community.
Since winning these awards the office has gone on to pull off an innovative marketing coup with creation of the Happy Ballito' YouTube video, which after just a week had over 19,000 views (as at 3 June close to 25,000).
MD of Seeff Dolphin Coast, Andreas Wassenaar, explains: "I have always said that every business requires two things to be sustainable: marketing and innovation. We managed to combine these two in one with this recent YouTube release. My wife, Jane, picked up on the Cape Town version of Pharrell Williams' song Happy' on YouTube. Countries all over the world are making their own versions of it.Slovakia has a version set on a snow-capped mountaintop with bikini-clad models dancing and singing - which may explain the over 3 million views they received. The six Iranians from Tehran who produced their version made headline news when they were arrested because of it."
Seeff Dolphin CoastSales & Marketing Director, Tim Johnson, decided that Ballito needed its own version, and hooked up with Karl Worner from community online platform I love Ballito.com', and together with Tim Hay of Hellmot Productions and Julie Robert of Sugar Dance, put together a world-class production within 10 days. It features many local celebrities and regular well-known personalities - from homeless folk to Patricia Lewis and AJ Venter, who are regular faces out and around in Ballito, and of course used well-known locations. Says Johnson: "People tend to make their versions for various reasons, but many of us have lived and have grown up in Ballito, and we are genuinely passionate about the area. It is our way of showing how all of us who live in this area are connected."
Adds Johnson: Within a day we had received calls from Mr Price wanting to use it in their promotion of the Mr Price Pro surfing competition this year, Sony Music Africa tweeted it to their followers and East Coast Radio acknowledged the video live on air. If you are running a business and still wondering if social media is important as a way to communicate, then you are asking the wrong question! The social media platforms have revolutionised the way we all communicate and have truly made the world a small, interconnected village. Our aim is that the Happy Ballito video will make people proud of where they live as well as inspire and motivate others to migrate here."
To see the video go to YouTube and type in Happy Ballito, or click herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjFyf4kBJMg
The central city and surrounds and the Atlantic Seaboard is experiencing strong demand for commercial offices and retail space, says Seeff's commercial consultant for the areas, Guy Friedberg. Demand is almost across the board, from older buildings to new Grade A prime office space developments and even houses suited for conversion in areas such as Vredehoek and Sea Point.
Consequently, we have seen rental rates edge up over the last two years by around 9% on average. There are also some areas in the central city such as Kloof and Long Streets where high demand is driving rentals rates up, says the agent. Business in the city and on the Atlantic Seaboard is booming and tenants are looking for office and retail space and are prepared to pay higher rates for the right premises, he adds.
There is growing demand for luxury homes in Hout Bay according to Seeff agent, Ingred Blicher Hansen who recently sold several luxury homes, priced upwards of R6,4 million to around R15 million. Driven by the wonderful village lifestyle, views and convenient access to the city, upper income buyers are increasingly heading here for better value for their money when it comes to luxury housing, she says.
The demand for property here is evident from the growth in sales to around 374 units to the value of just over R835 million last year compared to 278 sales worth around R614 million in the preceding year. That is a quite significant increase of 35% in the volume of sales and Rand-value. Most notably, says Blicher Hansen, around 28 properties priced above the R5 million mark sold, almost 50% more than the 19 sales in the year before with exceptional properties now fetching anything upwards of R10 million to R23 million.