A correctly priced home in good condition will still sell in a reasonable time frame. This is according to Gail Compton, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Tricolor, whose offices service the Westville and Pinetown areas in KwaZulu-Natal.
“While sales in Westville have decreased slightly, buyers are continuing to make decisions and are purchasing properties that are priced at what is perceived to be fair market value. It has been claimed that as a result of the high crime rate in the area, Westville is in a property crisis, and sales have plummeted, but this simply isn’t true,” says Compton.
“For the Westville property market, it is still business as usual, with demand still outstripping the current level of stock available to buyers. In fact, at the moment we have the lowest number of property listings we have had in a long time.”
According to Compton, while sales have dampened to a degree, this is not only due to the crime levels. She notes that while crime is certainly a factor, there are other influences that are having an impact such as the current economic conditions that surround the property market in general. “Over the last few years, consumers have had to deal with fuel and food price increases, interest rate hikes, increased electricity tariffs and inflation. The ever rising cost of living has left consumers with lower levels of disposable income. A higher living cost has also made it much more difficult to save the required deposit needed for bond approval,” says Compton.
She adds that Westville is continually targeted as an area with higher crime statistics, even though the entire country has many of the same problems. “Because so many South Africans have been affected by crime in one way or another, as a people, we have become one of the most security-conscience in the world. This is not localized to one or two areas – it is throughout the entire country. Home buyers in Westville are aware of security, and they take precautions, but this is no different to the rest of the country. Security is a driving factor behind most property buying decisions in this country, which is why so many buyers throughout South Africa are opting to live in security estates,” says Compton.
She notes that security also impacts property values, but Westville property prices have not been negatively affected by the claimed high crime levels. According to Lightstone, a property statistics and information provider, the median price of a freehold home in Westville increased from R1.75 million in 2015 to an all-time high of R2 million last year. This vastly outstrips property prices seen in 2007, considered by many as the height of the property boom.
“The reason that property prices in an area would continue to show growth is a steady demand. Buyer demand is what helps to stimulate property prices in an area – if demand for Westville property had plummeted, the house prices would have followed suit. However, demand continues, and as a result, homes prices in the area continue to improve,” Compton concludes.