In search of bargains in downtown South Africa

Private Property South Africa
Antoinette McDonald & Angelique Arde

Last week we looked at where SA’s richest lived and what the prices for property went for in the country’s swankier suburbs. Which got us thinking about the other end of the market. So we drew some data from the property research gurus Lightstone and looked at prices and the movement of property in city centres of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

Cape Town

In stark contrast to the R31 million you will pay for a “bungalow” in Clifton, apartments in Cape Town city centre are a steal. Lightstone has recorded 291 sales in the last year, totaling R472 million. Most of these (67%) were in the R400 000 – R800 000 price bracket. Of the total transactions, 31 were for properties that sold for more than R3 million.

Lightstone says 71% of the stock that sold was sectional title properties.

The Cape Town city centre is obviously a popular place with vibe and diversity. Research shows that flats ranging in size from 28sqm to 86sqm sold from R275 000. The inner city sales reflect a fluid market. In the last five years, 78% of properties were bought and sold in the area.

The bulk of buyers (between 60-80%) in downtown Cape Town are middle aged, between 50-64 years.


The folks in Sandton, where the average price of a property last year was R14, 6 million, might do well to spend their loot downtown to get more bang for their buck.

Lightstone data shows that flats between 29sqm and 56sqm sold for between R250 000 and R400 000 in the last year. In total there were 238 transfers worth a total of R81 million, of which, 85% were under R400 000. Only three sales were recorded between R1, 5 million and R3 million.

Most of the stock (76%) in downtown Johannesburg is sectional title.

About 87% of the residential stock in the CBD has been bought and sold in the last five years and most buyers are between 50-64 years old (middle aged).


In KZN the fanciest suburb is Port Zimbali, which includes Zimbali Coastal Resort, where the price of freehold properties in the last year averaged R6m, while sectional title prices averaged R4 million.

In Durban CBD Lightstone data shows a completely different picture. A total of 285 transfers were recorded in downtown Durban last year with a value of R101 million.

Flats sold generally ranged in size and price between 35sqm-87sqm for between R260 000 and R450 000. Most of the stock (94%) is sectional title.

Of the total sales, 214 were for under R400 000 and only six were for between R1, 5 million and R3 million. Most of the buyers (between 50%-80%) were aged between 50-64 years.

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