Areas and Places

A hive of new home-building activity in East London

This three-bedroom, two-bathroom “green” home on the Jikeleza Wildcoast Route is for sale through Harcourts Advantage for R2,7m. Set on a 9400sqm stand, it boasts many individually-designed and handcrafted finishes and the plumbing, electrical system, vegetable gardens, landscaping, and water supply and storage system are all geared towards off-the-grid and self-sufficient living.

Property developers are “back in the game” in East London as the recovery of the city’s residential property market gains rapid momentum.

That’s the word from Penny Niemand, co-owner of top local agency Harcourts Advantage, who notes: “After the 2008/ 09 recession the market was flooded with vacant stands that had traditionally been bought by families to build second homes or holiday homes along our coastline. However in the past year or so the market for these has shown real signs of recovery, and developers have started to re-look at projects that were not viable before.

“They are in many cases subdividing the original development stands now and making adjustments to proposed home sizes in order to keep prices affordable.”

She also says that there have been record numbers of sales lately in the under-R1m bracket and that stock shortages are developing now in the R1m to R2m range – both signs of a much healthier market.

“One of the busiest sales areas at the moment is Amalinda, which is much favoured by entry-level buyers. Prices for newly-built 54sqm homes on 280sqm stands here start at R561 000, and developers have also been engaging with the Department of Human Settlements to deliver projects that are in line with the FLISP programme (Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme) for first-time homebuyers earning between R3500 a month and R15 000 a month.”

Sales volumes are much lower in higher- income suburbs like Vincent, Berea and Selborne, Niemand says, because owners in these areas now tend to keep their properties for between 15 and 20 years. “However, developers are active here too, in response to the high demand in these areas, and are buying up two or three adjoining properties at a time to redevelop into townhouse complexes. The new homes that are being delivered at the end of this process are priced at R1,85m and upwards.”

New development is also being stimulated, she says, by increased demand from upcountry buyers looking for affordable coastal property for retirement, and from the parents of school-going children who are interested in East London’s excellent schools.

“We have a pretty coastline with the West Bank opening up the Garden Route to Cape Town and the Jikeleza Wild Coast Route doing the same for the Wild Coast up to Port Edward. The coastal lifestyle appeals to retirees and buyers keen to live ‘off the grid’ and ‘get back to basics’, and new developments to meet the demands of such buyers are taking place in many of the small holiday villages close to East London.”

“The Mission Holding Group, for example, is responsible for the residential re-development of Kidds Beach, which is about 30km from East London towards Cape Town. Here first-time buyers can acquire plot-and-plan homes at Umlele Heights for between R600 000 and 900 000, and middle-income buyers can find three and four-bedroom homes at The Village in the first phase of the Kidds Beach Green Estate at prices from R1,1m.”

“The same developer is also building on the East Coast at the Bulugha River Estate in Glen Gariff, about 25km from East London towards Durban. Prices here start at R2,1m for three-bedroom units.”

In East London, Niemand notes, the Osner Group is selling two-bedroom apartments at Riverside Estate in Abbotsford for upwards of R795 000, and Group 6 is offering two-bedroom duplexes in a secure estate in Nahoon Valley Park for upwards of R800 000.

“New retirement options, meanwhile, include The Waterside retirement village at the Crossways Village Centre on the Jikeleza Wildcoast Route, which will offer 110 units at prices between R950 000 and R1,5m. Kidd’s Beach Green estate will also offer retirement units and Cyprea Sands will offer 30 retirement units with frail care facilities.”