It comes as little surprise that the most common concern for those buying property in South Africa is the crime levels in the various suburbs. According to a survey conducted by Columinate Online Research on behalf of Private Property, 21 percent of the 400 individuals polled viewed the level of crime as the most important factor when determining where to buy. An additional 12 percent regarded the security presence in an area as important while only one percent regarded the fact that a property was close to a school as significant.
The results also indicate that South Africans are far more concerned as to what is happening crime-wise in a particular suburb than they are about the overall condition of a property. In other words there is a higher demand for homes in what is regarded as a safer area, as opposed to the appearance of a property.
Crime is an international problem and although South Africa historically has high levels of criminality, choosing to live in an area that has recorded lower crime levels does not guarantee that the homeowner will avoid becoming a statistic in the future. What often happens is that criminal gang’s target a certain area - not necessarily one in which they live. Once the police or security presence makes the pickings too slim, the gang moves on.
There are of course some areas that are traditionally more prone to criminal activity and these include suburbs that are situated close to informal settlements, areas where new construction is taking place and homes situated along busy public thoroughfares.
Choosing to live in a suburb that has a high security presence is perhaps more important than relying on a lack of recent criminal activity, given that the South Africa Police Service only releases crime stats on an annual basis. An awful lot can change in a year and basing a buying decision on issues that were recorded the year before can be deceptive.
The fact that 11 percent of those polled also deemed the overall condition and cleanliness of an area to be an important issue is also telling considering the service delivery issues currently plaguing various towns and cities across the country. Well-maintained roads and cut verges may not seem like one of life’s great choices, but in the current situation these minor issues seemingly offer a clear indication of just how well the local municipality is coping with their obligation to provide services in return for the rates that they receive.
It appears that South Africans are far more concerned about the above issues than they are about the current price and the property’s future value. Only seven percent of those who responded to the survey indicated that these were a priority. Very few of the respondents regarded the proximity to schools, entertainment or a police station as an important reason to buy a property, although quite a few respondents said that the property should be situated close to public transport.
Overall the respondents indicated that they are most likely to go to a property website when looking for property, which indicates the need for concise listings offering as much information about the property and surrounds as possible. South Africans have long believed that properties that are situated close to schools are in demand and although the majority of those interviewed fell into the 35 to 49 year age bracket, very few regarded the proximity to an educational establishment as important. It appears that people currently want a lot more than convenience and safety concerns and the perceived safety of a suburb has become far more important than ever before.
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