Rising interest rates mean falling affordability – and this is currently being reflected in home buyers’ renewed interest in new, multi-unit developments where there is no transfer duty to pay.
In some cases, developers are also willing to subsidise other transaction costs such as bond registration and legal fees, says Gerhard Kotzé, managing director of the RealNet national estate agency group, noting that lifestyle changes that are evolving post-Covid.
These are, once more, driving demand, especially among young buyers, for homes in urban rather than suburban locations, and especially in buildings and complexes that offer their own co-working spaces, restaurants or coffee shops, recreation spaces, and sports facilities as well as state-of-the-art security.
Read our latest Property360 digital magazine below
“In many cases, the shared costs of the land – some of which has been held by developers for several years – is making it possible to offer units in these ‘whole life’ developments at relatively low prices, which makes them especially attractive to first-time buyers.
“There are currently a number of apartment developments even in the Cape Town CBD and central Sandton, for example, that have studio units available at prices from around R900 000 to R1.2 million.”
In addition, Kotzé says, there are several other factors in favour of buying into a new development. These include excellent security; reduced transport costs; modern designs; less maintenance; and easier financing.
“Modern apartment blocks – and gated estates – usually offer much more personal safety at much lower individual cost than buyers can achieve in pre-owned homes, and the newer the development, the more up-to-date its security equipment and access control methods are likely to be.”
Plus, not only have fuel costs risen “really steeply” this year, but many young people are also concerned about the damage that the use of fossil fuels is doing to the environment, so they are keen to eliminate a daily commute to work.
“Living in a whole life building that is close to their office or has co-working spaces for remote workers as well as other amenities is a great way to do this.”
In terms of design, new developments offer modern architecture, fixtures, and fittings that are more suited to contemporary lifestyles, and offer energy-saving provisions and internet-ready homes with high-speed, fibre connections.
Owners of such properties will also benefit from less maintenance, more energy efficiency, and lower incidental costs for at least the first few years of ownership, especially when compared to the costs of fixing, renovating or adapting a pre-owned property to “get it right”.
Kotzé adds: “When you buy a newly-built home, the developer will usually have a mortgage origination consultant on hand to assist you to obtain a home loan and/or an arrangement with one or more lenders to grant 100% home loans at attractive interest rates due to there being a lower risk in the property.”
While many of the aspects that today’s homebuyers are looking for can be found in new developments, sellers can also make some adjustments to ensure their existing homes offer some of these in-demand benefits. Despite an increase in South Africa’s repo rate, Grant Smee, property entrepreneur and managing director of Only Realty Group, says the home buying market remains a hive of activity.
“We are slowly moving out of the prolonged buyers’ market. As it stands, in some regions buyers have the upper hand, while in others sellers do.”
Whether your home is in hot demand or has been on the market for some time, there are various steps that one should take to make sure that it sells to the “highest bidder”.
“There are many things that one can do to “up the ante” and stand out from the crowd. Edits to the home can be the difference between selling above asking price, or below. It can also open your home up to a bigger pool of potential homebuyers.”
With this in mind, Smee says sellers should focus on these five key selling points entice buyers:
1. Keep it light and open plan
“An open plan, light and airy layout makes a home looker bigger and more inviting. Many potential homebuyers are on the lookout for these homes as they create multi-functional areas – which are also great for entertaining, and help to maximise space in the home.”
For those without open plan layouts, he urges you to embrace natural light in the home.
“Sheer curtains and soft blinds make a difference. In a case where you don’t have a lot of natural light, make sure to use soft wall colours that make the areas look bigger.”
2. A low-maintenance outside area
Everyone loves an outdoor area that’s great for entertaining but they also want an area that’s easy to maintain,” Smee says, suggesting that sellers invest in low-maintenance, eye-catching plants – but not too many.
“Limit the number of different plants you have to keep the maintenance required down – try to stick to between five to ten varieties. It’s often a good idea to buy ready-plotted plants from the nursery that you can just plonk down in your garden.
“Aim to reduce the size of the planted areas in your outdoor space. You can do this by moving the flower beds back towards the boundaries and replacing them with paving if possible – a path around the garden works well and is aesthetically pleasing.”
3. Kitchens are the heart of the home
It’s true – in many cases, the kitchen sells a home, and if you are lucky enough to already have a great kitchen then you are in luck, he says.
“Home buyers are always on the hunt for kitchens that are well laid-out. They’re also focused on long-lasting, hard-wearing countertops.”
Additional changes that make a difference include installing open shelving, creating a small coffee bar, updating your splashback (behind the sink), adding a new light fixture, some herbs or even a piece of artwork.
4. Embrace energy-efficiency
“It’s a fact: Homes with alternative power solutions such as inverters, solar power, and generators sell faster. Many home buyers are on the hunt for homes with these provisions in place to reduce their reliance on standard electricity especially, with load shedding.
For those unable to take their home ‘off-grid,’ Smee says simple tricks can help to make a house more energy-efficient.
Some of these include installing:
- Good insulation
- Low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads
- Energy-efficient built-in appliances
- LED lighting
5. Security is key
“The unfortunate reality in South Africa is that crime is always a possibility and concerns around security are often a top priority for a buyer, he states, adding that features such as electric fencing, outdoor sensor lights, alarm systems, and Trellidor or similar security doors in bedrooms will help to make the home more secure.
“Finally, I would also recommend telling prospective buyers if there are any neighbourhood watch groups set up in your neighbourhood or what other measures are in place to help keep the area as safe as possible.”