The South African estate community has historically been a relatively small and exclusive component of the residential property sector. This, however, is in the process of changing as property data shows that roughly R15 billion worth of estate properties are now traded each quarter. The recent surge of activity in the market, especially in the Western Cape, has highlighted the need for more knowledge and awareness among prospective buyers of what to look out for when making such a purchase.
This is according to Erika Minnie, Estate Agent at adventure lifestyle estate, Somerset Lakes, who says that it is essential for prospective buyers to do thorough research on aspects such as the surrounding areas, security and lifestyle amenities, and the property’s potential investment return.
She offers the following helpful tips on what to consider when purchasing property in an estate:
1. Is the estate situated in a desirable area?
Location remains one of the most crucial considerations when buying a property. However, what is important in terms of location will often vary from buyer to buyer. For parents and couples planning to start a family in the future, being in the proximity of a good school is often essential. However, this can cause properties near top schools to come at a premium price or be located in very congested areas. In contrast, for nature-lovers or those just looking for slightly less congested roads, a spot further away from the city may be worth the commute. Luckily, there are estate developments that aim to serve as many of these preferences as possible.
2. How important is security?
As safety is unfortunately a major factor affecting the desirability of many South African cities, estate living is gaining increasing popularity amongst local buyers. While the neighbourhood and surrounding areas are still important, property within a well-run lifestyle estate offers the tightest security features including 24-hour guarding and patrols, high-definition surveillance cameras and electrified perimeter fencing with anti-dig foundations. The most technically advanced estate security systems even have biometric fingerprint access control, so buyers need to be sure of the level of security they are looking for when choosing between estates.
3. Does the estate have good recreational facilities?
Buyers are often attracted by the many recreational aspects offered by residential estates, such as exercise facilities, communal pools and even club houses. Top developers are also increasingly incorporating lifestyle elements into their estates, such as private lakes and beaches within the perimeters, allowing for water sports and community activities. As these recreational activities will vary across estates, it is essential that prospective buyers find out what is available and whether this suits their current lifestyle.
4. Will the property be a smart investment?
Regardless of whether the property is being purchased for the buyer to live in or as an investment, it is important to ensure that the estate is financially secure and backed by reliable investors. Finding out who the property developers are, how long the company has been in business for and what kind of track record and credentials the company has is important to ensure that an estate’s future is in good hands – especially when buying off-plan. Similarly, investigate which investment companies are backing the development – these investors essentially make up the financial muscle of the whole operation.
The good news is that estate properties generally display quite stable performance regardless of the economic climate. This means that the risk of a property sharply dropping in value is considerably lower when buying in an estate, making it a safer investment during an economic downturn.
Minnie explains that understanding these tips will help buyers to decide what it is they are looking for in an estate, as well as determine the extent of industry knowledge and experience a property development company possesses. “Ultimately, the estate has to be right for the buyer’s expectations and lifestyle. The benefits of experienced, efficient and competent property developers is that these specialists will ensure that the property investment is managed correctly and that the estate is finished in the best way possible and at minimal cost,” she concludes.