Living in the Money - Where the Rich Live

Living in the Money - Where the Rich Live

Private Property South Africa
Antoinette McDonald & Angelique Arde

Ever wondered where SA’s richest live and where a single property goes for more than what most of us will ever earn in an average 20-year working career?

Well, we teamed up with property research gurus Lightstone and looked at the top suburbs in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.


It comes as no surprise to learn that Clifton is the most exclusive suburb in the Western Cape – and the country. This is where you live when you’ve arrived – as opposed to when you’re faking it. It’s the real deal.

We’re talking “bungalows” that go for R31 million and “apartments” that get snapped up for R28m. The latter being a mere 338m2, with three bedrooms all en suite, under-floor heating, gymnasium, heated saltwater pool, four parking bays and direct access to the beach via an electronic gate – just to mention a few of this particular property’s features.

Welcome to Clifton, baby.

According to Lightstone, there’s been only one sale in Clifton over the past three months. It was a sectional title unit that went for R5.6m. Sectional title properties account for 55% of the stock in Clifton. Freehold properties make up 35% and garages 9%. Last year 28 sectional title properties changed hands, and 10 freehold properties were sold.

Based on sales last year, the average price of a sectional title unit in Clifton was R5.8m and the average price of a freehold property R14.9m.

The most expensive place to buy sectional title in the Western Cape and the country is the Waterfront, according to Lightstone. At the Waterfront, the average price of a sectional title property is R6.8m – R1m more than what you can expect to pay in Clifton.

About 40% of property owners in Clifton have lived there for 11 years or longer, whereas 35% of owners have lived in the suburb for less than five years. The majority of recent buyers (those who have bought over the past 12 months) in Clifton are aged between 35 and 49 years old, closely followed by middle-aged folks (aged 50 to 64). Pensioners (those aged 65 and older) constitute the bulk of sellers in Clifton.


Up in Gauteng it’s swanky Sandhurst that attracts the mega-wealthy.

After Clifton, Sandhurst is the second most expensive suburb in terms of average freehold property prices. Rolling lawns and manicured gardens are the order of the day – not that you can spot much over the towering walls.

Most Sandhurst properties are also famous for their guard houses at the gate – many of which look grander than the average two-bedroom two-bathroom flat in a nearby suburb. Security is tight and you get the feeling there’s a VIP living in the palace behind the imported palm trees.

Many properties in Sandhurst could pass as a hotel. It’s not unusual to pick up houses in this area that come standard with a cinema, chipping green, gym, steam room, plus indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

The suburb is prime location considering its close proximity to the Sandton CBD and a number of the province’s most exclusive, private schools. And if it’s the shopping you’re after, the uber-posh Sandton City Mall is right on Sandhurst’s doorstep and hoity-toity Hyde Park isn’t far either. These marvellous amenities will be sure to meet your every material need.

Lightstone’s owner profile reveals that the majority of Sandhurst residents have lived in the suburb for less than five years. Only 30% of owners have held on to their properties for more than 11 years. The majority of Sandhurst residents (45%) are between the ages of 36 and 49, while 20% are in the 50 to 64 age bracket. Remarkably in this super-rich superb, about 10% of owners are aged 18 to 35.

In true Jozi form, 42% of all property in Sandhurst is sectional title, 29% freehold and 28% of stock is garages.

Over the past year Sandhurst recorded 22 residential property transfers, 13 of which were sectional title. The average price of a sectional title property was R1,5m – a steal for property in this suburb. The average price of a freehold property was R14,6m. According to Lightstone, there was a whooper of a sale in November last year, which would have skewed these figures. One property was brought on auction for a hefty R65m by a cell phone mogul.

According to Lightstone, property prices in Sandhurst have soared. In 2004 the average freehold property went for about R8m. In 2008, freehold properties sold for an average of R16m.

After Sandhurst, Ranelagh, Hyde Park, Westcliff, Beaulieu and Dunkeld are the province’s top suburbs in the freehold property market. In the sectional title market, Sandhurst is ranked 19th in Gauteng.


Moving to KZN, Port Zimbali, including Zimbali Coastal Resort, has added a new dimension to residential property in the province. It is arguably the fanciest area that side of the sugar cane.

Lightstone rates the area as the province’s top spot in terms of price as ranked against other areas in KZN and the seventh most expensive suburb in the country.

A profile of owners reveals that 70% of them have lived in the area for less than five years; 16% have been there for between five and seven years; and 10% for between six and 10 years. Most residents are middle aged (40% are aged 50 to 64) and less than 10% are between 18 and 35 years old.

Of all residents in Port Zimbali, 23% live in estates.

In the past year, 34 residential property transfers took place in the area. Of these, seven were over R3m; 18 were between R1,5m and R3m; and the balance were under R1,5m. The average selling price was R2,2m in that period. What’s interesting is that many of these sales reflect vacant land transactions and so the value of the developed properties is higher.

The price of freehold properties in the last year averaged R6m, while sectional title prices averaged R4m.

In the last five years, 2006 saw the most sales in the area, at 106 transactions.

In the national ranking of suburbs by Lightstone, Zimbali is rated 7th, after suburbs like Clifton in the Cape and Sandhurst in Gauteng. The mean value of properties in Zimbali, according to Lightstone is R7,8m – which is more than properties in Hyde Park and Knysna.

Zimbali has some of the most expensive sectional title schemes in South Africa, with properties in this category averaging R5,3m, in a league with Clifton in the Cape. Zimbali’s success is down to the ecological guidelines and master planning of Tongaat Hulett, which sold half of Zimbali Coastal Resort to IFA, a Dubai-based group with interests in leisure properties around the world. A R2-billion Fairmont Hotel is being completed on the site, along with a golf course designed by Gary Player.

It’s not unusual for beachfront houses at Zimbali to go on the market for between R20-R30m. Earlier this year sites at Zimbali Lakes, a new phase in the resort, began selling at R2,5m for about 1 400m2. In 2007 a vacant beachfront site sold for R8m.

Zimbali’s popularity has been enhanced by the construction of the new King Shaka International Airport at La Mercy, a 15-minute drive from Ballito. Zimbali is within a half hour’s drive of 10 golf courses, Sibaya casino and Gateway, a premier shopping mall.


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