Top specs drive luxury property demand
Wealthy investors in estates and sectional title developments want the best, from top-notch security to state-of-the-art facilities — and developers are listening
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WORDS: HELEN GRANGE | PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
Even though house prices were under pressure last year, sales in luxury residential estates are thriving, with transactions in this sector outperforming the general market. This is according to real estate advisor Basil Weinrich, who estimates that more than 40% of SA’s high net worth individuals (HNWIs) live or own homes in residential estates.
“Many lifestyle and golf estates have also started to add luxury apartments to their offerings. Those with parks, birdlife, walks and trails are becoming more popular,” Weinrich says.
New World Wealth analyst Andrew Amoils agrees: “Most developers are now creating small neighbourhoods within estates, instead of spacing houses around the property This allows for more parkland and open areas.”
Since 2003, sectional title sales have increased by up to 5% a year, a Lightstone Property report shows, while statistics by Stats SA show that “flats and apartments were the only categories that showed growth last year”.
But what makes estate and sectional title living so attractive to the affluent? New World Wealth analysts have identified five key specs as the main drivers behind this trend – state-of-the-art security; location; design, layout and views; lock-up-and-go convenience with built-in maintenance advantages; and excellent facilities, onsite activities and a sense of community.
Luxury buyers want the full package, says Geoffrey Crow, brand and marketing manager at Century Property Developments, whose Waterfall Estate in Midrand won the award for Best International Mixed-Use Development at the 2017/18 International Property Awards last year.
Johannesburg’s The Houghton is another example of a development that continues to diversify its luxury residential portfolio. It recently launched a five-star hotel and extended services, further attracting prime property buyers.
Cutting-edge security is a priority for top-end buyers, exemplified by estates like Steyn City near Midrand. “As crime continues to contribute to stress levels, our security offering becomes more important. Yet no-one wants to feel as though they’re living inside a prison. That’s why most of our security is hidden from view,” says Steyn City Properties CEO Guiseppe Plumari. “For example, you may not realise that, in addition to a security hub manned by a 24-hour patrol, 500 cameras are placed around our perimeter wall.”
Much of the luxury property market is in Cape Town, where safety is also important. “Security is top of mind for Waterfront and Mouille Point buyers,” says Kim Bailey, Pam Golding Properties agent for the area. “We sold two apartments at The Waterfront Estate this year for R18.9m and R12.9m. respectively, and here 24-hour security and concierge service are simply a given.”
In Paarl, too, luxury estates prize safety above all. “Security is the number one reason why people purchase property at Val de Vie, and it is our biggest focus and monthly expense,” says Val de Vie group marketing director Ryk Neethling. Its stunning French Provençale and Cape colonial architecture homes’ prices range from about R3m to more than R21m.
It is usually young families and professionals that prefer estate and sectional title living because of location, but they are not alone. “Many of our buyers are executives who travel often,” says Saxony Developments GM Michele White. Saxony Sibaya, the developer’s offering in Umhlanga, is particularly appealing thanks to easy access to highways and King Shaka International Airport. These penthouses are some of the most luxurious on KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast and range from R7.6m to R12.5m.
Ballito’s Dolphin Coast is another favoured location, as evident in sales at Elaleni Coastal Estate, which is set to launch its Forest View apartments at about R2.95m each. “Location is definitely key here. Young families can choose from top schools within 15km of Elaleni, and medical facilities are close too,” says sales manager Devon De Lange.
Proximity to schools, shops, medical facilities and public amenities are particularly important to buyers looking for a city neighbourhood lifestyle. Given the pace of a modern economy, owning a home in a friendly neighbourhood has become priceless. “People want to enjoy their new suburb, and amenities such as high-street shopping and restaurants come at a premium that many are prepared to pay for,” says Jacques van Embden, MD of Blok, specialists in modern urban apartments in Cape Town. Units at EIGHTONN, Blok’s new development in Sea Point, sell for more than R6m each.
At Century City outside Cape Town you can enjoy a safe, city-like environment with natural elements at prices from about R3.5m a unit. “You have canoeing and running clubs within the precinct, as well as restaurants, top retail, a gym, hotels, schools and a church. It’s what we call the live-work-play lifestyle,” says Rabie Property Group director John Chapman.
Similarly, luxury properties in or near mixed-use precincts are popular for both location and an urban lifestyle. Ellipse Waterfall, the first luxury residential high-rise in Waterfall City in Midrand, with prices ranging from R1.5m to R12m, is a case in point. “Our unique value offering lies in its strategic location near world-class amenities,” says Tim Kloeck, CEO of Tricolt, the developer. Waterfall Estate and Blue Hills Equestrian Estate, both by Century Property Developments, are among the most prized addresses in the area, as is Balwin Properties’ The Polofields with its northeastern views over the Waterfall area.
“If they are well located and offer a secure and convenient lifestyle, these properties will always be in demand. And instead of just developing a block of apartments, the trend is to create legacy buildings that homeowners can be proud of,” says Ilma Brink, Pam Golding Properties Pretoria’s regional development sales manager.
The main attraction of Horizon Capital’s The Azure in Camps Bay, Cape Town, is its position, which affords it staggering ocean views. Unit prices start at R2.4m. “Buyers will pay a premium for one of the best locations, within walking distance of the beach and promenade,” says David Sedgwick of Horizon Capital.
Design, layout and views are paramount in SA’s most idyllic luxury properties, such as The Estate, Berman Brothers’ multilevel Sea Point development marketed by Dogon Group Properties. “With magnificent views of the ocean and Table Mountain, The Estate is priced from about R10.3m to R21.5m. It offers state-of-the-art features unmatched by any other residential apartment in the area, such as five-star communal areas and chic design elements,” says Paul Berman, partner at Berman Brothers.
Another super-stylish option is The Rubik, developed by Abland in partnership with Nedbank and Giflo, designed by DHK Architects and marketed by Dogon Group Properties. With floor-to-ceiling windows and an imposing shape, the ultra-modern building offers striking city and mountain views. The apartments, offices and penthouses range from R2.4m to R11.9m. “The Rubik is the future standard for inner-city residential buildings that won’t be a mere ‘entry into the market’ but an address to be lived at,” says Dogon Group Properties development director Rob Stefanutto.
A development setting the bar high in KwaZulu-Natal is the R4.5bn Oceans Umhlanga, currently taking shape in a ground-breaking architectural style, with curvilinear lines expressed in glass, offset by generous wraparound balconies. Unit prices start from R3.8m.
According to Pam Golding Properties’ Johannesburg North quarterly report, a number of buyers are requesting apartments that offer lock-up-and-go convenience and easy maintenance – relatively new specs to luxury estates. In Cape Town, the demand for convenience is driven largely by buyers living elsewhere. “Many of the purchasers of upmarket penthouse apartments or residences are either foreigners or from Johannesburg or Durban,” says Sedgwick. “Their properties serve as a Cape Town base when they are holidaying or working here.”
Balwin’s Paardevlei Lifestyle Estate in Somerset West ticks all the boxes of estate living convenience with its proximity to urban facilities and schools, and easy access to both city-bound highways and countryside escapes. Priced between R2m and R5m, units share the precinct with the historic Crescent Houses, one of which is owned by Balwin CEO Steve Balwin. “The Crescent Houses are restored masterpieces that have a personal touch of sophistication and boast undeniable character, luxury and space,” says Balwin.
Depending on the buyer market, some luxury estates promote their facilities, onsite activities and a sense of community more than other aspects.
“Purchasers in the top-end luxury segment are not as concerned about communal facilities, because many are quite private and want the exclusivity of their own gym or rooftop pool, for example,” says Sedgwick.
Arabella Country Estate in Kleinmond, on the other hand, is distinctly family-orientated. Outdoor activities for children are an important facet of living there. These include boating and fishing on the Bot River lagoon, as well as a central playground.
Luxury estates on the Garden Route are also capitalising on the family market. “Sales have spiked, with Plettenberg Bay being the destination of choice,” says Ling Dobson, Pam Golding agent for the area.
Mzuri Estate in Somerset West prides itself in its 360˚ offering. Situated on the lower slopes of the Hottentots Holland mountain range with sweeping views of False Bay, Mzuri affords residents a modern lifestyle with a clubhouse, gym and indoor swimming pool, as well as a lounge and outdoor braai facilities. A running and cycling track weaves through the development. Its lock-up-and-go apartments start at R1.19m.
With their lifestyle requirements and expectations everchanging, be it as a young family investing in a country lifestyle estate or a millennial buying a high-rise sectional title apartment in the city, wealthy buyers are now demanding more state-of-the-art specs from their residences – and there is no doubt that developers are coming to the party.
“The Crescent Houses are restored masterpieces that have a personal touch of sophistication and boast undeniable character, luxury and space” Steve Balwin, CEO, Balwin Properties
LATEST ESTATES AND SECTIONAL TITLE GROWTH NODES
Western Cape: Durbanville |Somerset West
Gauteng: Centurion | Sandton and Midrand
KwaZulu-Natal: Salt Rock | Ballito
Western Cape: Strand | Stellenbosch | Cape Town and Somerset West
Gauteng: Sandton | Roodepoort
KwaZulu-Natal: Amanzimtoti |Umhlanga
Source: Lightstone Property’s overview of the past 12 months