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Living in an estate doesn’t need to be only for the wealthy

Published Dec 7, 2021

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Experts say most people, regardless of economic status, have a similar desire for security, decent facilities and lock-up-and-go convenience

Estate living is a reality – or option – for only the small portion of South Africans who can afford such relative luxury but this does not have to be the case.

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In fact, estates do not need to be at the top end to cater for most people’s lifestyle needs, regardless of background or financial standing. Rabie director Mariska Auret says these desires include security, landscaped common areas, well-maintained facilities and lock-up-and-go convenience.

“Estates will gain popularity as people enjoy the basket of benefits which comes with living inside a gated estate... (but) an estate does not have to be massive, or right at the top end, to cater to these needs.

“Small, gated communities within greater estates that have communal facilities are very attractive,” she says. Retirement developments, however, are a “little more complicated” in terms of affordability and ownership but the country has a substantial portion of people at, or nearing, retirement age who would want to scale down and find a safe place to live within a like-minded community.

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“A multi-generational estate approach has a great future at various levels of affordability.” Auret says the growing appeal of estate living is the reason why, even during the pandemic over the past two years, there has been a “steady flow” of sales.

Rabie’s developments priced below the R2 million mark, in particular, are “doing very well”. “Our recently sold-out development in Burgundy Estate, Bow Tie – which is made up mostly of apartments and a small component of townhouses – sold out within a year.

“Burgundy Estate, near Durbanville, remains a very popular precinct and we launched a new development, Quinta Estate, at the beginning of October with 50% of phase one sold out. We’re launching another development this week. We also have our retirement development, Oasis Life, currently selling in Burgundy Estate.”

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Apart from new estates, the Western Cape appears to be a hive of new property development with FWJK recently starting construction on three residential and hospitality projects in Sea Point and Bantry Bay. This, says chief executive Dave WilliamsJones, is evidence of an uptick in market activity following the almost flat rate of growth over the past two years.

“After the 373-apartment 16 on Bree development, we have focused on smaller development opportunities on the Atlantic Seaboard,” he says.

Another new development in the Mother City is Eighty2 on M in Sea Point which Jacques van Embden, managing director at developer Blok, says is human and urban housing-focused. “As our newest development, we have taken the approach to develop a living space that best meets the needs of a youthful, connected urbanite...

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“Covid has made us realise how important living spaces are, as well as the neighbourhoods that surround them.”

Lance Gore of Spencer Gore Developments, which is behind the new Westwood Quarter development in Durban’s Westville suburb, says buyers want safe and secure living environments that also offer more space.

“Free-standing or semi-detached houses with a small garden, within an estate or complex, may become more sought after post-Covid... Apartments may now, more than ever, need to have a small patio or open area to provide some connection to the outdoors.”

While estate living might not suit everybody, Gore says the lifestyle generally affords residents a secure, safe and comfortable environment. “Estates can be mixed-use too and this could be a future trend. Larger, mixed-use estates with living, shopping and work, all within a well-run and safe environment, will become more popular.”

Auret believes there is demand for both apartments and free-standing houses within estates, although the market is “quite value-driven”. And when it comes to meeting the demands of today’s buyers, she agrees that estates need to provide convenience, safety and a connection with the outdoors.

“This means gardens, green space and access to walking, running and recreational areas are important factors.”

She adds that ground-floor apartments are very popular, as well as stand-alone houses with exclusive-use gardens. “With more people working from home, or working with more flexibility, work-life balance has cast more focus on home life and what surrounds your living environment.”

New commercial property developers have had to alter their designs and offerings to meet the needs of today’s businesses and their employees. Simon Wilkins, head of Global Corporate Services for Galetti Corporate Real Estate, says developers, landlords, brokers and tenants are working together to transform traditional “9 to 5” premises.

“Adept investors are ahead of the curve. Rather than taking the conservative approach, they recognise the imminent return to work.”

He says the office of the future promises to promote safety, fun and collaboration as many employers entice their staff to return to work.

“Landlords are working just as hard to differentiate themselves from each other and this makes for an interesting and competitive landscape. Be it through incentives, amenities or location... the sector is working hard to bring us developments and concepts that justify a higher price tag.”

New office developments are also focusing on co-working and flexible workspaces to suit remote workers, as well as properties that meet the needs of companies implementing hybrid working policies for employees.

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