Property Advice

Home buyers head to warmer climes north of Durban

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter |
Home buyers head to warmer climes north of Durban

During winter and autumn, when the rest of the country still experiences chilly weather, the KwaZulu-Natal coastline north of Durban comes into its own with its year-round, mild climate, further fuelling the semigration trend to this region.

Says Carol Reynolds, Pam Golding Properties area principal for Durban Coastal: “We are fortunate to live in a very desirable pocket of the country where there is ongoing demand. The North Durban coastal belt offers exceptional schools, good infrastructure, office parks, shopping malls and excellent hospitals, and all of this in a sought-after strip with warm, clean beaches and some of the best surf in the country.

“Despite the lockdown, the residential property market in this perennially sought-after region has shown resilience, and we are continuing to experience activity across all price bands. Most notably, family homes priced under R5 million are selling quickly while developments are attracting a significant amount of investor interest.

“We have noticed a positive influx of Johannesburg buyers shopping in our sunny climes, while local property developments in particular, have attracted investment interest from out-of-towners. The ‘Kent’ in La Lucia, is now 80% sold out, with a mix of local and upcountry buyers. This residential development ticks all the boxes for both end-users and pure investors, and is ideal for young professionals who work in the area and are seeking ‘green’ features, convenience, location and sea views.

“With the general volatility in global markets, it seems that property has re-emerged as an investment safe haven. Kent in La Lucia has been particularly well received because of its unique offering in the heart of La Lucia – a highly desirable suburb with easy access to the beach, office parks and schools,” says Reynolds.

Says Gareth Bailey, who is also an area principal for Pam Golding Properties Durban Coastal: “The recent sales in this brand-new development occurred over six months, which reflects robust demand for the product and area. Another development, ‘Onyx’ in New Town Centre in the Gateway area of uMhlanga, is 90% sold out. The developers have converted some of the remaining one-bedroom units into trendy two-bedroom, two-bathroom New York style loft apartments with double volume living areas, with only a few still available, selling from R2.595 million. The vibey Gateway area is seeing an increasing number of first-time buyers, given the low interest rates and affordable properties being brought to market.

“We’re also marketing units in ‘Oceans’, uMhlanga, specifically in the hotel tower where Radisson Hotel has taken the first 16 floors, where we are selling one and two-bedroom apartments priced from just over R3 million a further nine floors above. This concept has proven very successful as private investors in the residential units enjoy the prestigious association with the upmarket Radisson brand, which buoys rental demand and rental rates – and with both short and long-term rentals permitted. Ultimately there will be three towers in this new development.

“Although sectional title and estate homes – including sectional title units within estates – have proven more popular in recent years, freestanding homes continue to sell, especially those in low-supply areas such as on the beachfront, particularly frontline apartments, for which there is a high demand as long as realistically priced. While the market has been favourable, buyers and sellers are more informed than ever before and most have a good understanding of what constitutes a reasonable and acceptable market-related price.

“Furthermore,” says Bailey, “the uMhlanga Urban Improvement Precinct has helped keep uMhlanga town and beaches clean and safe, which has had a cumulative, positive effect over time, encouraging more restaurants to open in the area, while the new Oceans development will also include a shopping centre component.”

Reynolds says in Durban North’s residential property market there’s a clear trend towards lifestyle as a priority, and as a consequence many buyers look for spacious homes with beautiful gardens and outbuildings that can be converted into offices, enabling them to work from home as they navigate the ‘new normal’, or for additional accommodation for extended family members.

“This suburb epitomises convenience for home buyers. In central Durban North, homes sell quickly if correctly priced, with the ever-popular three or four-bedroom family home with outbuildings and level gardens performing well in the price band between R3 million and R5 million. This central area is very popular because of its proximity to schools, the beach and the burgeoning business hub in La Lucia/uMhlanga, and also benefits from the Broadway precinct, a self-sufficient business node in itself, making Durban North the ideal place to live, work and play.

“An interesting trend is that given the work-from-home norm that has arisen as a result of the pandemic and lockdown, homes are being renovated and upgraded, with many home-owners using their outbuildings not only for additional space for themselves or for multi-generational living, but in order to generate a passive rental income to subsidise their monthly income.

“Apart from Johannesburg buyers seeking a better lifestyle, we enjoy a mix of local mainly family buyers either upgrading or downsizing in the area, as well as those relocating from other suburbs, such as the Berea. A major drawcard is the exceptional schools in the area, namely Danville, Fatima, Chelsea, Virginia, Northlands and Northwood.

“Being a very well-established suburb, with some houses over 100 years old, with tremendous potential for reconfiguring the spacious homes, many of our buyers will undertake a full renovation when they purchase in the area. Often these homes are in such good condition that the most popular renovations involve breaking down internal rooms to open up the living spaces to create flow, and then upgrading the kitchen and bathrooms. We are also seeing a number of outbuilding renovations.”

“Perhaps surprisingly, the upper end of the market here has been more active than it was prior to lockdown, however, buyers are discerning regarding price. Mansions in upper Durban North carry a great deal of prestige and are extremely spacious and beautifully maintained, attracting interest in the R8 million to R10 million mark. However, buyers have a good selection to choose from in this price bracket so residences need to be correctly priced in order to sell.”

Reynolds adds that prices of homes range from R1.5 million for two-bedroom to R2.5 million for larger apartments, while small homes in areas such as Glen Anil, Glen Hills and Park Hill sell between R1.5 million and R2.5 million. Medium sized, three or four-bedroom family homes in central Durban North range from R3 million to R5 million and larger four to six-bedroom homes in the upper areas of Durban North fetch from R5 million to R10 million.

The adjacent area of Riverside, which straddles the uMgeni River, and is home to numerous, affordably-priced sectional title developments, is popular among first-time buyers, retirees and investors, being close to all amenities and just a few minutes from the beach and the Berea. There is also a large over-50s gated estate called Riverside Park, which is in demand among retirees.

Says Pam Golding Properties agent Stella Simes: “Riverside comprises predominantly apartments and simplexes or duplexes and some houses, where the average price of units currently on the market is R1.8 million for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. Since January 2020 prices achieved in the marketplace have ranged from R600 000 for a 31sqm unit in a retirement complex to R2.53 million for a 201sqm home, while we recently sold a two-bedroom apartment in Riverside Park for R1.67 million in a couple of days of listing.”

Further north, Pam Golding Properties eMdloti agent Nico Swart reports a strong demand for homes among those relocating from busy towns, and in particular, seeking luxurious beachfront apartments that will allow holiday letting and which are also pet-friendly. “Most home buyers are seeking a holiday investment, while we are also seeing first-time buyers, given the favourably low interest rates.

“While still easily accessible to Durban and major highways, this is a peaceful village with a very close-knit, caring community with excellent 24-hour security patrols and CCTV cameras as well as an active WhatsApp group which ensures that the residents are in constant communication with each other. Everything is in walking distance, including restaurants and the beach, while King Shaka International Airport is only about 8 minutes’ drive away. We like to think of this as the ‘Camps Bay’ of KwaZulu-Natal”, quips Swart.

Adds Swart: “Prices of apartments vary from R2 million to R4.5 million, although I’ve just sold a three-bedroom unit in a new development for R6.634 million, while freestanding properties mainly go for between R5 million and R10 million. That said, the last property which sold in eMdloti – across the marketplace - was a beachfront home which fetched R18 million.”

Writer : Gaye de Villiers

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