Going for a home with a view of the ocean
MAIN IMAGE: Esteani Marx, head of real estate Lightstone; Rhys Dyer, CEO of ooba; Ross Levin, managing director for Seeff Atlantic Seaboard, Waterfront & City Bowl.
The Covid pandemic has changed the way we work and where we choose to live – many people are interested in working remotely from a home somewhere on SA’s long coastline.
Space, family and safety now outrank proximity to the CBD and the office. Since June, as soon as the for sale signs went up, residential property sales took off with gated estates and coastal towns high on the priority list.
According to Lightstone’s Esteani Marx more families seem to be looking to work remotely and trade the hustle of big city living for the coast where nature, family and lifestyle comes first. This in turn has opened up opportunities for buyers looking to upgrade and first-time buyers to enter the market.
A low interest rate of 7% – lowest since 1966 – sees many first-time buyers applying for bonds as for many it is now cheaper to buy than rent. According to Rhys Dyer, CEO of ooba. their preliminary statistics confirm substantial YOY growth in bond applications for the period June 2019 to September 2019 vs June 2020 to September 2020 in each of these coastal regions as follows: KZN 37%, Eastern Cape 51% and Western Cape WC 62.5%.
These areas, many of which have traditionally been viewed as retirement or holiday destinations, hold the appeal of amongst other things a more relaxed lifestyle. “For those who are able to work from home, the appeal of a larger home with more outdoor space is prompting some to look relocate to the peripheral areas of major metros or to smaller towns and villages, including those along South Africa’s extensive coastline, comments Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive Pam Golding Property group.
Balmy weather, an ocean warm enough to swim in and green rolling hills epitomise this part of South Africa. What’s more, a recent Lightstone Report shows growth of 4% in first-time and repeat buyer purchases in Q1 of 2020 over 2019 – and indications are positive that buyer activity since June was back to the same levels if not better with many estates and estate agencies reporting record sales. They are seeing a lot more local and semigration buyers and receiving quite a few enquiries from overseas from people coming to set up businesses in Ballito/Umhlanga who are also looking to invest in residential property, says Mark Johnson, licensee for Seeff North Coast. In June they recorded their highest sales in the history of the branch. There is high demand for properties in the residential areas out of estates as well as free standing homes with space and gardens.
KZN has lifestyle estates to suit every taste, from eco-estates to lifestyle and retirement. Lightstone reports an increase in sales in Q1 of 2020 for all except the affordability range.
Blue flag beaches, bustling port cities and rural tranquillity are some of the features that lure buyers back to the Eastern Cape. Alexander Forbes Investments executive chief economist Lesiba Mothata believes Port Elizabeth is one of the second-tier cities of South Africa that presents potential for future economic and industrial growth. Since June this year, residential property sales have escalated in the Eastern Cape hubs of Port Elizabeth and East London, with brisk activity across all price ranges, reports Pam Golding Properties.
For instance, the Amdec Group reports that The Ridge, the first of nine villages in their multi-generational estate Westbrook is almost sold out and according to managing director Clifford Oosthuizen the turnover in June was higher compared with the past six to 12 months. “Living through a national lockdown, buyers are drawn to investment options such as residential estates that offer plenty of space,” Oosthuizen says.
Smaller coastal towns on the East Coast are also seeing stronger buyer interest such as surfing ‘hot spot’ Jeffreys Bay, St Francis Bay and Port Alfred. “In J-Bay for example, surfing spots, beachfront properties, coffee shops and restaurants abound, all set around a proliferation of appealing open spaces, creating a magnet for families and an ongoing demand for residential and/or holiday accommodation,” remarks Golding.
The Garden Route, known for its many world-class golf courses, indigenous forests and long white beaches, was fast becoming SA’s relocation hot spot before the pandemic. It has also seen its market rebound encouragingly since the beginning of June. In Plettenberg Bay, the renewed activity was almost immediate, with several estate agencies recording their best-ever sales for the month July, whilst in neighbouring George and Knysna, recovery was a little slower but encouragingly strong. According to Sheena Mare, broker principal in Knysna and Sedgefield for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, properties under the R2 million mark are most in demand and those that are well-priced and require little renovation are selling quickly.
“Most of our buyers are families with school-going children and retirees relocating to the garden Route for lifestyle reasons and the sellers are predominantly retirees and empty nesters who are downsizing or moving to retirement accommodation and locals who are up or down-sizing,” says Mare. This is corroborated by current Lightstone data which shows that 47% of all recent sellers were aged 65 years and older whilst 37% of buyers were aged between 36 and 49 and 12% were 35 or younger.
The Western Cape’s long list of attributes – well-run municipalities, scenic beauty, top schools and tertiary educational institutions, world-class restaurants etc – continues to attract ‘lifestyle’ buyers. In September Lightstone reported it remains the coastal region of choice for both first-time and repeat buyer purchasers across all categories of property.
Cape Town has also seen some long overdue price correction to adjust to the current economic realities. This is a good sign says Ryan Joffe, owner of Ryan Joffe Properties which is currently developing The Rockefeller aparthotels in the CBD. He says creating more affordable housing options within the city centre will be a trend in the coming months.
It is not just property sales that shows a rebound. According to Ross Levin, managing director for Seeff Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl, the rental market is just as active with people looking for homes and apartments where they can work from home. Particularly busy areas include Sea Point and the Waterfront as well as Camps Bay.
The West Coast
The West Coast has generally seen a slower return to buyer activity. In Yzerfontein, there have been sales in properties under R3 million. Michelle Livingstone-Louw, Seeff agent on Yzerfontein, notes that most of the buyers are shifting their primary residence to Yzerfontein to work from home.
Going forward, with fears of another lockdown are kept alive while many European countries implement restrictive measures again amid a second Covid 19 wave, it is likely that relocating to the countryside and the coast will continue to hold appeal. After all, if you must stay home, why not one where can enjoy a beautiful coastal view and a more relaxed lifestyle?
Editor’s Note: This is an edited version of the article ‘Heading for the coast’ that appeared recently in Business Day Home Front.