It’s not surprising that apartment blocks are in increasing demand as people flock to South Africa’s urban centres looking for job opportunities and affordable accommodation.
Terence Hogben, Principal of Leapfrog Durban Central says that there is little land left for development in Durban – heightening the need for existing properties.
Add to this the fact that the middle to lower housing segments have consistently outperformed the upper end of the market during 2015 and it becomes clear that sectional title properties are hot at the moment.
Hogben shares that apartments currently make up 65% of their business (in their areas of operation: Morningside, Berea, Glenwood and Manor Gardens) with a general price range between R500 000 to R1.5 million, the sweet spot laying in the R900 000 mark. ”The buyers above R3 million are extremely picky, demanding that the home has to be immaculate as buyers quite often don’t have anything left to spent on renovations after the purchase of the property.
Sellers need to realize that buyers are under a lot of financial pressure and cannot afford higher prices; the risk of not heeding this is that it could cost them later when they have to reduce the price and the property is now stale. I feel that the people buying in the lower end of our market are not focused on the bad news in the country; they are just getting on with life and that means finding a place to call home”, explains Hogben.
The parking problem
Due to the fact that areas like Berea and Morningside have a large number of heritage properties (which are protected by AMAFA (Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali) the provincial heritage society) there isn’t much space for further development – something that is experienced particularly via the growing lack of available parking in these areas.
“Parking is a huge issue as historically having parking was not always necessary and thus not provided for. If one can get an apartment in the R1 million region with two parking spaces in a semi decent area it is gone in a flash”, explains Hogben.
Hogben indicates that many apartment blocks are removing grassed areas and gardens to allow for more parking, but facing a lot of resistance from the older owners in apartment blocks. Quite often people rent spare parking spots in blocks of flats nearby. If there is permanent street guard and cameras people will put up with their second lower value vehicle being outside. “Unfortunately public transport is only a temporary solution because we find that those same people that were satisfied with public transport eventually aspire to their owning vehicle which compounds the problem”, says Hogben.
Based on the shortage of stock in these areas it is clear that Durban North is a very popular area in terms of residential property - with demand only being held at bay by availability. Landlords and sellers would be wise to fashion secure parking if they’re to push up their asking prices successfully.