Advice and Opinion

Estate living is extremely popular but sustainability plans need to be implemented

The number of people preferring to live in sectional title schemes or HOA run estates has increased over the years, and this trend looks as if it is set to continue in the years to come. What is important, however, says Shiraaz Hassan, commercial director of Asrin Property Developers, is that these are built with integrity and thought given to who will be living in them in the future, as well as whether they will be able to sustain what the developer has envisaged.

Looking at various statistics released and previous experience, there has been a 7% year on year increase in the demand for sectional title units and first time homebuyers are driving this market.

On looking at the average ages of each life stage of home buying, said Hassan, it is not often easy to pinpoint why each price category and lifestyle category needs to be assessed when deciding to go ahead with the development of an estate. The imperative goal, however, is balance – achieving a mutually popular, price sensitive product which caters for young families, first time home buyers and older folk reaching retirement.

With more construction of higher density developments as SA’s population increases but land availability does not, comes the need to “soften up” the impact of these by adding as much greenery as possible to each in the landscaping and communal areas, said Hassan.

“Adding open space encourages residents of the complexes to engage with each other and not live separate lives,” he said.

Each estate type will have a certain type of person buying into it, for example, the first time home buyer will have a certain budget and might not have a need for large family style homes whereas the 40-something buyer will often want a larger home, with a garden and space for his/her children to grow up in. In all instances, buyers are looking for security and lifestyle options such as swimming pools, tennis courts, and other amenities where costs would be shared among the owners. Because living in a freestanding home can be costly, it is easy to understand why buyers opt to live in estates, said Hassan.

“Asrin have always prided themselves in the research done before each development has been tackled,” he said. “At Nuutgevonden, for instance, the units have been extremely popular with young adults and families alike, because of its very competitive cost per square metre as well as the open green spaces and security offered. In addition to this is the close proximity to the centre of Stellenbosch town and the university”.

“At Somerset Country Estate, where homes have larger gardens, and larger homes have been built, the buyers have tended to be families and executives who want the quieter lifestyle offered there, with average ages in the 40s. There are now only three homes available in this development.”

Creating successful developments is not purely about constructing units, said Hassan, but rather about the sustainability of the schemes. Many developers have in the past built sound buildings but have not succeeded in implementing the correct management procedures to be used after handover to the owners. The impact that a larger scheme has on the environment as well as maintaining of all the common areas will need a plan from specialists in order for them to work in the future, said Hassan.

In addition, he said, recommendations from consultants should not merely be submitted with the aim of getting schemes approved but should rather be to enhance and improve the area to which it is being brought. Construction management plans should be implemented as well as post-construction management guidelines, as these will ensure upkeep of estates.

“The handover process from developer to managing agent to the trustees and owners should always be a transparent one and all parties should be engaged in order to understand the plan – this translates to good management, maintenance and upkeep, which in turn contributes to healthy property values,” said Hassan.