The KZN south coast seems to be, if not shrugging off its history, then rewriting its future.
KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast is solid proof that upgrades in infrastructure – whether transport links or retail/commercial facilities – generate a shake-up of the residential demographics, which in turn bumps up property demand and prices. This could spark the chicken-or-egg-first debate, but whichever, the south coast – or perceptions of it – has been turned on its head. It’s now a place to live, not just holiday in or retire to.
Dina Porteous, Pam Golding Properties’ area principal in Margate, believes the upswing to be largely attributable to pricing and affordability: “Direct flights from OR Tambo to Margate have had a major impact on accessibility to the area, and the region being favoured by filmmakers too has highlighted its beauty and potential."
Interestingly, although the boom period of developers building complexes along the coast has, like everywhere, come to a near halt, it hasn’t translated into long inactivity in the property market. Estate agents report that the changes in buying patterns have meant it’s simply a different kind of market, but still performing well.
Historically, the South Coast had a “retirees paradise” label, but it’s become more than that. As Myles Wakefield, CEO of Wakefields Real Estate says, “What we’re seeing unfolding is people buying property while awaiting availability in retirement complexes – this way, they settle into the community and then, when space is available, they retire where they lived. Popular complexes have significant waiting lists, some up to eight years. People don’t only retire to recognised retirement centres, but into standalone properties too. Where else can you live affordably, on the sea’s edge, with glorious beaches, great fishing, and golfer’s heaven?”
There’s also been a significant swing to first-time buyers who’re residents in the area. Municipalities employ high numbers of staff, and salaries are much improved, especially those of young professionals. As Wakefield says, “Significant investments have been made in regional shopping centres, and those investments are supported by the increasing buying power of a growing force of local residents.”
A big slice of South Coast property comprised the holiday and buy-to-rent markets, but with a decline in healthy global finances, second homes largely took a back seat... but there are definite signs of a revival. Porteous remarks: “Over the past three months, we’ve seen an increase in demand for affordable ‘getaway’ property investments, particularly in the Shelly Beach and Uvongo area, selling mainly between R850,000 and R1,2m. In comparison with other coastal areas, Southbroom, a natural golf estate, is still hot property by those seeking a home from home.”
Porteous believes the South Coast to be a long-term investment area:
My advice – if you plan to let out your property, look at accommodation trends in the area. Occupation is driven by these – buying in the wrong position could affect returns.
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.