People want to live and invest in areas with good services and facilities and clean neighbourhoods with good security. Gerhard van der Linde, MD for Seeff Pretoria East says that the desire for secure, well serviced neighbourhoods has been a top driver of the demand for estate living in the east of the city and buyers are prepared to pay a premium for a home in a secure estate.
It is not that easy to convert an existing neighbourhood to a secure area by simply adding access control, he says. The local authorities need to be consulted to obtain approval and there are numerous factors that need to be considered before allowing an area to be boomed off.
“For buyers, it is often easier to just move to a security estate where residents are able to enjoy the surroundings and outdoor with relative peace of mind. Aside from the superb security, these estates also come with added lifestyle benefits such as communal grounds and gardens where you can move around, walking, jogging or cycling or children playing for example; all in a secure setting”.
There is also more control of the surroundings with the interior roads and grounds maintained compared to a neighbourhood that can fall into disrepair; pot holes for example being some of the challenges faced by some communities. Van der Linde also says that properties in secure lifestyle estates tend to hold their values and produce better capital growth compared to open neighbourhoods.
Steve van Wyk, MD of Seeff Centurion concurs and says that any property that offers good security will be preferred by buyers. “Part of the draw-card of the Centurion area, is its high prevalence of security complexes and estates with more than one-third of all property in the area located in estates and a further almost one third being sectional title property, generally in a secure complex or estate. Demand for properties in such estates is high, and certainly adds to the value of the properties”, he says.
Not everyone can or want to move to a security estate though and enclosed areas and neighbourhoods are another very popular option for buyers says Van Wyk who personally lives in such an enclosed area where the benefits of security and co-operation between homeowners in respect of the tidiness of the area is an obvious advantage.
“More and more local residents are now beginning to realise that they have to take a more active role in their local neighbourhood and community, not just the security, but aspects such as cleaning and the general appearance. This is one of the fastest growing property trends in the country with most suburbs now boasting a local Neighbourhood Watch system that is connected by Whats App, Facebook and two-way radios in the case of Centurion for example”.
“The suburb of Doringkloof is one area that is renowned for its very active Neighbourhood Watch, but many of the suburbs have small local community groupings who are involved in cleaning up the natural areas around the parks”, says van Wyk.
Neighbourhood Watch organisations have become an important feature for suburbs. Most work in partnership with local law enforcement to assist in patrolling and creating visible policing and responding to citizen needs are now an important selling point for neighbourhoods.
“Beyond that”, says Van Wyk, “locals are becoming more interested in what is happening in their local suburb. These working communities are now keeping tabs on any upgrades and projects that are planned and making representations where necessary. The rise in social media means that communities have more access to information and are able to form online communities for information sharing. Knowing who your local councillor is and having your say in one way or another is something that more and more locals are becoming aware of”.
In some neighbourhoods, this active citizenry even extend to lending a helping hand to local schools and charities, especially in times of need. Other communities drive active participation in activities such as supporting facilities for the aged or disabled, not just financial or material support, but also by visiting for example.
“South Africans are increasingly realising that they do not just own the property in which they live, but need to take ‘ownership’ of the neighbourhood. The advantage is not just a more secure and clean environment, but buyers will be more drawn to these suburbs and area likely to pay more for such homes”, concludes Van Wyk.