Southern Suburbs security estates tops for luxury lifestyle buyers, delivers superb capital growth
Jul 24, 2014
When it comes to top end luxury lifestyle buyers, the security estates of the Southern Suburbs, especially those around Tokai, are the top choice right now not only for the secure lifestyle, but for the superb value growth on offer, says Seeff's managing director for the area, Andy Todd. Estates such as Stonehurst, Silvertree, Silwersteen, Steenberg and the Nieuwe Steenberg Estate development have become sought-after residential nodes and buyers are prepared to pay well into the upper millions for luxury homes here, he says.
Lifestyle farm buyers discover the allure and unbeatable value of the Breede River Valley
Jul 24, 2014
While the trek to the urban centres in search of better economic prospects continue, there is no doubt that urbanites are increasingly looking at swopping the stress of the city for the serenity of the country, says Seeff's principal for Robertson and surrounds, Polla van Wyk. While the decision is a permanent relocation for some, for others it is the opportunity to invest in a country getaway to escape to as often as possible.
Rate hike very disappointing for the housing market, says Seeff
Jul 17, 2014
Seeff chairman, Samuel Seeff, has reacted with disappointment to the decision by the Reserve Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to hike the repo rate by a quarter percent to 5.75%. While it is widely accepted that the economy is heading into a rate hike phase and this is not unexpected, Seeff says that insofar as housing is concerned, holding off on a rate hike for a little longer would have been preferred.
Considering that the housing market is finally on the mend, this is just too soon and will certainly do little to instil investor confidence or encourage economic growth. Already, consumers have had to absorb the 50-basis point hike of January and, considering that more than 85% of buyers require home loan finance, this is bad news for home owners and buyers, he says.
For consumers, their monthly bond repayment is the single largest expense. A home owner (or prospective buyer) with a bond of around R890,000 over a 20-year repayment period would have had to allow for an additional R284 per month following the January rate hike. Add to this, the knock-on effect on other credit commitments and day-to-day living costs. Now, they will need to find an additional R177 per month (almost R500 extra since the start of the year) just to meet their basic home loan commitments. It is difficult to see how consumers can reduce their overall debt levels, let alone save for a house deposit, he says.
Seeff also believes that there is just too much uncertainty around the economy and rate hikes right now. All this uncertainty is doing little to instil economic confidence and what we need more than anything is stability, he says. The housing market is finally in a good growth phase and indications are that the market is on the up. It is now nicely balanced, packed with eager, credit-worthy and cash-ready buyers with massive stock shortages now the biggest challenge.
Houses are selling faster and buyer competition has increased almost four-fold this year in the high demand areas. Although still nowhere near the levels that we would like to see, mortgage lending has improved and more first time buyers are getting onto the housing ladder. We are finally in a position where the housing market is gradually bouncing back despite the sluggish economic growth, but this decision is likely to impact the market down the line, he says.
Add to this the economic knock-on that should not be underestimated. More movement in the market with increased buying and selling means an increase in cash-flow and GDP contribution. If buyers start moving up, they can start renovating and extending and investors and developers can once again start making a return. The housing market is now nicely composed for recovery and the gradual build up means more sustainability in the long run, but Seeff says that we will now have to wait to see what impact this decision will have.
Deposit-ready and credit-worthy buyers are once again homing in on Bellville's best-buy suburbs according to Seeff's general manager for the area, Ryno Beck. Boosted by improved bank lending and the excellent value for money houses, townhouses and apartments, the market is looking up. Here too, a shortage of good, saleable properties is now becoming a challenge.
Located in the heart of the Tygerberg, the greater Bellville area stretches along the N1 and includes a number of suburbs popular with mid-market buyers along with upper-income areas such as Plattekloof. Bustling business districts, especially around Voortrekker and Durban Roads and a number of commercial and industrial areas nearby, accessible via the N1 and various arterial roads, adds convenience to the value for money factor, he says. Taxi and train services further complement the excellent transport infrastructure.
Aside from Cape Gate and a host of retail value centres, the Tygervalley mega-mall with its selection of restaurants and coffee shops, cinemas and retail brands nearby means that residents do not have to travel too far. There are also excellent medical facilities with clinics and hospitals along with sport and golf clubs, gymnasiums and facilities such as the Bellville Velodrome. The areas also boast a wide range of religious centres, representing just about every denomination. A top attraction, especially for families is the selection of good schools across the area, says Beck.
With a typical suburban tranquillity, the neighbourhoods also enjoy excellent views of Table Mountain (one of the new Seven Wonders of the World) and the Stellenbosch Mountains. The Durbanville Wine Route is just down the road as are the wonderful selection of wine farms of the Winelands and the beaches of False Bay, the Atlantic Seaboard and Blouberg along with the many leisure attractions of the Cape.
The area is now also viewed as a growth corridor for the Peninsula as Beck says it is the only real land space close to the urban centres still available for development. While property in the area continues to deliver excellent capital growth, further development over the coming years, will no doubt further boost the value to properties here, he adds.
For now though, buyers can still find excellent value with older homes around the R1 million mark and sectional title properties below R500,000. Many first time buyers and young families are now taking the opportunity to buy and renovate and upgrade while others are taking the longer term view of settling now and extending as their lifestyle changes.
Some of the best value on offer is in suburbs such as Oak Glen, Oakdale, Boston and of course Parow, says Beck. Houses in Oak Glen still sell for around R635,000 on average and in Oakdale at just under R900,000 while sectional title property sells for under R500,000-R700,000 on average.
Aside from an excellent selection of sectional title homes priced below R500,000 on average in Boston and Parow, both suburbs offer great value at around the R1 million mark when it comes to freehold homes, most with three bedrooms, says Beck.
Buyers with a bigger budget can look at Rosendal and De Tijger where houses now sell for R1,4-R1,6 million on average. De Tijger also still offers good value below R500,000 on sectional title properties while these are a little more expensive at around R800,000 on average in Rosendal and just under R1 million in Plattekloof. With an average freehold house price of just over R2 million, the Plattekloof area remains a popular choice for younger, upper income family and professional buyers.
Beck also says the investment value is well illustrated by the good price growth in areas such as Plattekloof, Boston and Oakdale over the past three years. The average house price for Oakdale for example is up by about 16% from R770,000 to around R888,000 while Boston houses now cost about 19% more, up from just over R900,000 to around R1 million. Plattekloof house prices are up by 15% from just R1,8 million three years ago to about R2,1 million now.
The convenient location (just off the N1) of the new eco-friendly Baronetcy Estate in the upmarket suburb of Plattekloof makes it a real gem for home buyers looking for a luxury home on a spacious plot in a secure country estate in the city, says Darryl Traut, Seeff's agent for the estate. Aside from quick access to the CBD, northern and southern suburbs, there are superb facilities and amenities in the immediate vicinity including top schools, UCT and many other tertiary educational institutions.
The positioning of the estate is top class, says the agent. It lies against the slopes of the Tygerberg Hills and borders on the De Grendel Winery and Tygerberg Nature Reserve and properties in this exclusive estate enjoy stunning views over the city. Security is paramount and includes controlled access and 24-hour patrols and monitoring. There is also a Home Owners' Association to ensure strict compliance to the estate guidelines, all of which add to the value of homes here, says Traut.
The 34-hectare development is home to around 300 properties with spacious plots set amidst green-belt areas; the ideal environment for family and professional buyers, he says. Most residences enjoy lovely views over the city towards Table Mountain and Blouberg. Homes offer the best in architectural excellence with luxury finishes, yet in compliance with building guidelines that promotes low environmental impact, he says. Garden landscaping furthers the eco-vision of the estate and promotes the indigenous flora of the area and neighbouring nature reserve.
There are still a few vacant plots up for grabs, priced upwards of R1,2 million to around R2,5 million for around 850-900sqm. Built homes range upwards of R4,9 million for a 400sqm home that comes with stunning views, four bedroom suites, two lounges, a study, an upper level balcony and covered entertainment terrace and swimming pool on the lower level. Slightly above this, at around R5,4 million, is a new 530sqm architectural home with stunning finishes that includes a central vacuuming system. Features include four bedrooms, a trendy kitchen with a separate pantry, scullery and laundry, two lounges, a pyjama lounge, dining room, study/office, storage space, garaging for three vehicles and additional parking.
The agent believes that buyers still have an opportune time to invest in the estate that is set to grow significantly in value in the coming years. Security estates, especially those located centrally tend to attract huge interest as residents get to enjoy not only the best of location, but a luxurious, yet relaxed lifestyle. Security estates tend to attract some of the highest prices and values and Baronetcy Estate is sure to follow suit as it continues to develop, says Traut.
Andreas Wassenaar, MD of Seeff Dolphin Coast and Seeff KZN Chairperson, tells us why we have cause to be optimistic about the current state of the property market in South Africa, and explains 12 current key property statistics that underpin his opinion.
Are you an optimist? Stephen Covey introduced us to the 90/10 principle. This says that 10% of life is made up of what happens to you - the things you cannot control, but that 90% of life is decided by how you react, and this you have complete control over. As a property professional there are things I have no control over: interest rates, striking miners impacting on our gross domestic product, or a global financial crisis. While it may be instructive to be aware of what is happening outside your sphere of influence so as to be ready for the opportunities that may present themselves, it is of little value to dwell on these things.
I was recently asked if it was a good time to sell and emigrate. I was surprised by the question as my mindset could not be further from this frame of thought. I cannot think of a better time in our recent history to be part of the poised growth of Africa and to have the privilege of living and working in South Africa. The hammering of our recent gross domestic product growth and the recessionary talk that has been pervasive in our media simply spells opportunity to me.
I will talk you through 12 current key property economy statistics and explain why I interpret these data as positive and an opportunity to profit through property.
1. Household sector real disposable income growth has hit 2.5%, representing a steady decrease over the past two years. I note this - but realise that the flip side is that property prices will remain subdued, which helps me to find the best possible buys.
2. The household debt to disposable income ratio is down to 74.3% from the peak of 83% in 2009. This is a big improvement, and means that household balance sheets are stronger. Interest rates at 9% remain the lowest in 40 years.
3. The FNB Residential Demand Strength Index is steadily up from 2009.
4. FNB's Residential Market Activity Indicator has hit 6.76 - a level closer to the pre-2009 recession levels -which is good news.
5. The FNB Residential Supply Strength Index is moving up and is still stronger than demand, indicating overall adequate stock levels and new stock coming on stream.
6. Stock constraints are reported by 18.5% of real estate agents, which is the highest in the past 7 years. This indicates that people are buying up the stock of existing properties and the backlog of homes is shrinking. This will mean that homes that have been on the market for a while in certain areas should now be trading.
7. The average time that a property is on the market for nationally is sharply down to 13.6 weeks, and heading downwards.
8. The proportion of properties that are sold at less than their asking price is now 81%, which is down and heading south, supporting the view of increased demand being prevalent.
9. The average percentage drop in the asking price to secure a sale is down at 8% - a big improvement on the 13% recorded in 2011.
10. Affordability of housing has steadily improved over the past 7 years as measured by the average house price index over average labour remuneration. 11. First-time buying activity is now at 25% and growing - a sign of a more active property market.
12. The proportion of buyers buying to let is slightly higher at 9% (from 8%) but remains low, which is a great buying opportunity to take advantage of the higher rental yields.
How you view your circumstances and surrounding landscape is often the key to unlocking value. The glass is definitely half full. If you are a buyer you could not have a better set of circumstances and timing to secure a great purchase. In property I have often adopted the view that you make your money when you buy not when you sell. If this is correct then money-making opportunities currently abound. Cash is still king and provides additional leverage for a buyer to negotiate the best possible value from a transaction. I would encourage you to seize the opportunities that may present themselves.
With the flat house price growth and low interest rate, it is still an opportune time to get first timers into their own homes, says Seeff's manager for the Mitchells Plain area, Louise Mentoor. Areas such as Mitchells Plain not only offer good infrastructure, schools and public transport, but 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.
While there is a great willingness to buy in the area, we find that buyer education is still lacking, says Mentoor. It is vital for buyers to take note of what they need to secure bond finance. 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.
Mentor says that agents 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. A good example is Retreat Mews, 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 for first time buyers. 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.
As the annual winter whale-watching season sets in, the Hermanus Whale Coast property market continues to heat up, says Seeff's principal for the greater Hermanus area, Reon van der Merwe. Aside from local buyers trading up and down, holiday and retirement home buyers have once again made their way back. Although still predominantly from Cape Town and inland areas of the province, we have seen a return of upcountry buyers and even a few Brits and Europeans looking to invest in homes here, he says.
The area stretches from Fisherhaven and Benguela Cove on the Botriver Estuary past the quaint villages of Vermont, Onrus and Sandbaai through to De Kelders, Gans Bay and Pearly Beach. Van der Merwe says it has been a busy few months for real estate agents in the village and he expects the trend to continue over the winter months. Especially, he adds, as we brace to receive thousands of whale-watchers, many of whom are likely to take the opportunity to scout for property.
Since about late 2011, sales activity has improved steadily year-on-year, says van der Merwe. In the last year for example, property transactions to the value of just over R1,1bn (1,227 transactions) have been recorded compared to about R700 million (670 transactions) in the previous year. This is an improvement 57% in the Rand-value of sales and 83% in the number of transactions. For the first time in years, vacant plots are also starting to sell, a good indication that buyers are confident about investing here again, he adds.
Aside from the close proximity to Cape Town (just under two hour's drive), the area boasts excellent attractions. It ranks amongst the best land-based whale watching destinations in the world with stunning beaches and a smorgasbord of water and nature adventures. The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (along the picturesque R320) includes about fifteen wineries. The infrastructure is top class, from good schools and medical care (including a planned new hospital with an oncology centre) to big retail brands, boutiques and restaurants. It is a well-run municipality, clean, with low crime levels.
Van der Merwe says that the advantage of buying here right now is that you can get excellent value as prices, while stable, continue to trade at relatively flat levels. There is something to suit every buyer and budget, from vacant land to apartments, small cottages to beach homes, golf estate homes and luxury mansions.
Vacant plot prices start at R200,000 to R300,000, but can range upwards of R3 million to R5,3 million for a rare beach front plot. Homes in Hermanus range upwards of around R1,5 million for a lock-up-and-go unit to around R3,7 million for a luxurious home with stunning sea views in Voëlklip. In the Hemel en Aarde Estate, homes can range up to R18 million for a one-of-a-kind architectural home while top-end homes can range up to R29 million for an 11-bedroomed home with sweeping sea views in Voëlklip. In the Fernkloof Golf Estate, homes start at about R3 million and range up to R9 million for a large, luxurious home that epitomises tranquil living.
Cottages in Gans Bay range upwards of around R500,000 and R1 million in Vermont and Onrus. Beach houses with sea views or close to the beach range upwards of around R3 million to around R7 million for a luxury beach house. Luxury cliff-side homes in De Kelders (Gans Bay) can range up to around R16,3 million for an architectural home. For retirement buyers, there is the new Negester Lifestyle Village in Onrus that offers a choice of two and three bedroomed homes, priced upwards of R2,2 million.
Historical Muizenberg has seen a wave of cash-flush buyers over the past few months, snapping up the golden oldies' especially according to Bonita Lee, Seeff's agent in the area. If they are not paying the full price in cash, they only need a small bond; quite a change from a few years ago. Muizenberg is very much in demand and prices are climbing. In 2013 for example, we ended the year with 20 units sold to the value of almost R20 million. By the end of the first quarter of this year, 20 units worth well over R20 million had already sold.
Seven years ago, Seeff bought the 100-year old house in Main Road that houses its office for R174,000 - today, it is worth about R1,8 million, says Lee. Older homes are hot property and sell for anything upwards of R1,3 million (at full asking price) in Waters Edge to R1,65 million in Belvedere Road and R1,8 million in Main Road; all sold by the agent. In Boyes Drive, the agent sold two homes at R2,65 million and R3,35 million respectively; testimony to the good prices that buyers are now prepared to pay, she says.
Lee says her mother, who was an agent here in the 1990s, could barely reach the R250,000 mark on a house sale. The 2000s saw little improvement in what buyers would pay, but things have changed. The agent for example recently listed a home in Hansen Road at R1,85 million. It was bought in the early 1990s for R250,000 and we already have an offer for R1,6 million. That is about 540% value growth in under twenty years.
Newcomers keep flocking to the area as awareness of the lifestyle and value on offer grows. A doctor, music producer, Yogi teacher, photographer, female Boeing-pilot (one of the agent's favourites), a mid-wife, oil magnet, offshore explosives specialist, famous actor and female restaurateur are just a few of the new residents in the area, says the agent.
It certainly is happening' in this laid-back coastal village. Security is much better with the introduction of the Muizenberg Improvement District initiative and the new parking developments are in full swing. The beachfront now boasts a Primi Piatti and it is rumoured that an alternative-styled steak house may soon hit the shores, says Lee. Knead Bakery and Gaslight Café are some of the unique landmarks. The Muizenberg Moonlight Meander, a popular family event in the form of a guided beach walk on the Saturday closest to the full moon remains a big hit.
A new historical landmark, the Surfers' Circle Walk of Fame, is also planned by the MID. As the birthplace of the country's surfing culture, dating to 1919 and National Geographic ranking Muizenberg as one of the world's top 20 surf towns, this will be a fitting addition, says the agent. The project will include a life-size bronze statue of Heather Price (the first surfer here) constructed on the traffic circle at Surfers' Corner along with paved pathways studded with plaques honouring the history and legends of surfing, all set amidst landscaped gardens.
With a top rated Blue Flag surfing and swimming beach, trendy sea-side eateries and shops as far as Kalk Bay, the picture-pretty colourful huts on St James beach, a treasure of historical landmarks and excellent road and rail connection, it is a real gem for tourists and buyers alike. While prices are up, the agent says that buyers still get more bang for their buck here.
If you are keen on a laid-back seaside lifestyle, you will find plenty to buy here, says the agent. From historic to renovated, new and trendy, there is something to suit every budget. You can for example still buy an apartment near the beach for upwards of R500,000 to just over R2 million for a luxury beach front unit. Small houses start at under R1 million, while larger homes, especially those with good sea views range upwards of R3 million. Historic gems cost upwards of R1,6 million to around R2,3 million for a classic historical Muizenberg Cottage.
As demand for urban living grows, Woodstock is rapidly becoming the more affordable and trendy alternative to the CBD and City Bowl suburbs according to Craig Algie, Seeff's agent for the area. Creative young professionals started moving into the area a few years ago, renovating, revamping and setting up shop and slowly other professionals, tourists and buyers have followed to this new property hot spot, he says.
The global emergence of a creative economy to largely drive small business growth has in no small part emerged here. The gentrification of Woodstock is strongly led by a creative flavour, yet most of the development fits in well with the historic character of the area, says Algie. Some of the city's trendiest building make-overs can be found here. On the outside, some of the buildings might not look like much, just a bit of a face-lift, but once inside, you are transformed into an urban loft-style interior that can compete with the best in New York, London and Berlin.
While the Old Biscuit Mill remains a top attraction, the area is also where you will now head to if you are looking for trendy décor, art and furniture, he says. The Woodstock Exchange is a hub of creativity and myriad of ateliers, boutique-styled shops and quaint street cafés along Roodebloem Road add to the attraction. What was once a run-down, lower-middle class suburb is gradually transforming into a hip new urban area as buyers discover this gem of the city.
The suburb's location on the fringe of the CBD, stretching up from the docks to the lower slopes of Devil's Peak, makes it a convenient alternative for those looking to live close to the city and the Atlantic Seaboard, says Algie. The lower Woodstock end, nearest to the docks, is where you will find the Old Biscuit Mill and other attractions. From here, narrow roads lined with little old Victorian Row Semis, freestanding houses and apartments, priced upwards of around R600,000, wind upwards towards the N2 Nelson Mandela Boulevard. Larger homes here range upwards of R950,000 to around R1,8 million.
Above the N2, towards Devil's Peak, lie Walmer Estate and University Estate closer to the Groote Schuur Hospital end. These two areas in particular have seen a flurry of buyers snapping up older homes and renovating, says the agent. Older homes here still sell for upwards of R2 million while renovated modern homes can range up to around R3,5 million.
Developers have also spotted the potential and there are trendy new apartments selling here for upwards of R600,000 for a one-bedroomed unit to R1,4 million for two bedrooms. Other developers have remodelled the old homes into trendy new city pads such as two new duplex townhouses in Chester Road that have been launched for sale to meet the demand for chic urban living, says Algie.
The homes are spacious, with about 220sqm in floor space and come with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a guest bathroom, modern kitchen and an open-plan living area that opens to a terrace with stunning views over the harbour and out over the ocean as far as Robben Island. There is also secure parking. The properties are prices at R3,695 million each.