WORDS: DEBBIE LOOTS :: PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
Results of the latest Residential Global Market Sentiment Survey from Savills show that the tide is changing in terms of buyers’ choice of home in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. No less than 76% of respondents expect working from home to become more prevalent, whereas 73% think urban dwellers will want a green space when considering a new home and 61% expect a demand for rural living to be on the cards.
In SA, a rural lifestyle could mean moving to a small town such as Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, Riebeek Kasteel in the Western Cape or Rosendal in the Free State.
It could also involve relocating to a lifestyle estate. Thanks to their grounds, schools, medical facilities and multigenerational home options, some of these developments operate like small towns. Moreover, most estates offer fast Wi-Fi and 24-hour security, and are close to urban hubs. Lightstone Property statistics indicate the popularity of these estates has increased in the past decade. In 2010, they accounted for 12.7% of all homes sold in SA. By 2019 the figure rose to 14.7%. The Western Cape had the highest number of estate home sales between 2010 and 2019. The fact that gated communities are becoming more eco-conscious also makes them appealing in the face of SA’s energy crisis and periodic droughts. Pam Golding chief executive Dr Andrew Golding says if social distancing becomes the norm, a growing demand for estate living can be expected. “Lifestyle estates are less accessible to the public, which limits exposure,” he says. “More spacious homes and outside areas also reduce the feeling of confinement during a lockdown.”
As many people are adjusting to working remotely, companies realise the financial benefits of such a system and might not be in a hurry to return to a traditional office setup. The fully functional home office could well become the workplace of the future. Nico van der Meulen of Nico van der Meulen Architects runs his practice with his wife, Santa, between SA and Italy. He says most of their clients work from home. “There is a demand for bigger home offices and socialising spaces, and I foresee this trend growing,” he says. Many of SA’s lifestyle estate developers agree that the pandemic has changed the way people view future home designs and that an office should be part of the package or an add-on option. HomeFront asked some of SA’s lifestyle estates and developers how Covid-19 has changed buyers’ choice of location and future living spaces, and what they have available in line with these new expectations:
Sitari, Somerset West
Adlab Advertising MD Claudius Combrinck says Sitari Country Estate in Somerset West has had some good sales in spite of lockdown restrictions. “Our on-site sales office reported sales of nearly R20m for the month of May alone. Buyers are favouring lifestyle estates more than ever because they offer extended gardens that provide freedom beyond their immediate property boundaries,” he says. “With the recent surge in people working for home, astute residential developers are likely to consider home offices in future designs.”
Balize Private Estate chief motivational officer Peter Cameron says buyers are re-evaluating their needs and desires in terms of future home investment. “With many of us having felt trapped in our homes during lockdown, gardens, meditation areas and space for a vegetable patch, for instance, will influence people’s decisions going forward,” he says. “Those with children will want extra space and there will be a more urgent need for sustainable living.” Cameron says Balize is the perfect lockdown escape thanks to its smart-ready homes with large verandas and views as well as a range of family amenities. Other new lifestyle estates on the North Coast offering ample green space and value include Elaleni Coastal Forest Estate and the more affordable Palm View Estate, where homes start from R500,000 and options with care facilities are priced from R750,000.
“With many of us having felt trapped during lockdown, gardens, meditation areas and space for a vegetable patch, for instance, will influence people’s decisions going forward” Peter Cameron, chief motivational officer, Balize Private Estate
Steyn City, Midrand
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the demand for the ultimate live-work-play lifestyle, says Steyn City sales manager Lambert Bezuidenhout. “Given that the virus will be with us for some time, home has become a sanctuary,” he says. “If you are spending all your time in one space, the traditional lock-up-and-go apartment may feel a little cramped. That is why our 810ha back yard is so appealing – it provides ample space to walk, run and cycle for hundreds of kilometres.” Steyn City’s recently launched 104 on Creek addresses each of these new needs, offering an ideal compact living area, yet with all the space to move freely and securely, even under lockdown. Residents of these two- and three-bedroom luxury apartments get to enjoy the same sprawling parklands as those living in any of the estate’s larger homes. According to Bezuidenhout, the market’s tastes are already changing as people place greater emphasis on convenience. The idea of a lengthy commute has fallen out of favour – a trend that has been boosted as the coronavirus crisis heralds the end of office-bound working, at least in the near future.
“Given that the virus will be with us for some time, home has become a sanctuary” Lambert Bezuidenhout, sales manager, Steyn City
Robbie Cohen, marketing manager of Domito Developments in Johannesburg, also expects a shift in buyers’ home choices in a post-Covid-19 market. “Families will want to invest in developments that offer a variety of services where they can stay home without sacrificing certain comforts during possible further lockdowns,” he says. “Mixed residential developments that offer standalone duplexes of three or four bedrooms with private gardens and pools are perfect for families wanting to raise their children in a secure environment with extras such as a clubhouse with a gym, a restaurant, a playground, gardens and 24-hour security.” The developer’s mixed-residential project YO Residences in Fourways comprises duplexes and apartments offering all of the above plus home automation for added efficiency should residents need to spend more time at home.
IGrow, Gauteng and Western Cape
IGrow Wealth Investments general manager of new developments Gerhardt Jooste says it has had record sales during the past 60 days, regardless of the impact of Covid-19. “The drop in the interest rate is fantastic news for investors in general, but we have also seen a lot of first-time homebuying,” he says. Developments with 24-hour security and excellent lifestyle facilities are now more affordable. “It is especially in areas close to growth nodes where we have seen a huge increase in sales,” Jooste says. “We are nearly sold out at Noah’s Village in Pomona as well as at Anglewood in Brentwood Park. Both are close to OR Tambo International Airport. “Record sales have also been achieved in Parklands in Cape Town, one of the fastest-growing suburbs in the country,” Jooste says. IGrow’s Clearwater Village in Johannesburg launches in July, offering homes designed with options to add an office space. Only 48% of the land will be developed, the remaining area providing secure green spaces for outdoor activities.