Ecofriendly adjustments are increasingly beginning to affect property sales in alignment with overseas trends

Over the last two to three years, South Africans have caught onto the ecofriendly property trend particularly prominent in the US. Explains Simon Bray, CEO of Private Property: “We don’t yet have data to show that ‘green’ property is more popular as it’s not being measured anywhere locally, but anecdotal evidence from estate agents certainly supports this view.”

While there is a lag behind the US market, a quick look at their statistics could give us an idea of the market potential locally.

• Apart from a safe neighbourhood, a home’s energy efficiency influenced home-buying decisions the most, according to a survey recently conducted by the National Association of Home Builders.

• As many as 70% of buyers in the Generation X group indicated that they would be willing to pay more for houses that incorporate green technology in the design.

• About 25% of new homes sold in the US are now green. In South Africa there are unique factors when it comes to the rise in popularity of ecofriendly property. Last year’s unpredictable load shedding and the significant increase in electricity costs have certainly played a part, as have this year’s water shortages and a growing awareness of making responsible environmental choices.

The commercial sector in South Africa was the first to embrace green alternatives for the economic benefits. “The commercial sector is driven to a large degree by the need to maximise return on investment,” explains Bray. “IPD South Africa’s annual green property indicators showed that green buildings outperformed less energy-efficient buildings by about 30% in terms of yields returned.”

And more residential developments are being built with environmental sustainability in mind, such as Val de Vie Estate in the Winelands and Menlyn Maine in Waterkloof, Pretoria.

It may have taken us some time to catch up to the overseas trend, but South Africa is now well on its way to green being the new gold.

Words Bridget McNulty