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Right on the money

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The property market may have constricted but one category is moving and shaking. The R1.5m to R1.8m sweet spot continues to lure investors and first-time buyers alike 

WORDS: KIM MAXWELL – PHOTOS: SUPPLIED 

Owing to a deflated economy and many personal incomes being stretched, property purchases in SA have slowed. Yet in this challenging environment, one category is showing buoyancy. New residential investors are still getting more bang for their buck in urban apartments and suburban estate developments priced between R1.5m and R1.8m. “A price point of up to R1.5m is a popular category for couples in a position to buy with a joint salary or individuals looking to move into their first home,” says Kent Gush Properties MD Kent Gush. This specialist marketer of residential developments has been operating in the Gauteng area for 35 years. “Security and lifestyle are priorities for these buyers,” he says. Typically, a developer might include integrated Smeg appliances and value-orientated additions to sweeten a R1.5m offering. When Kent Gush Properties launched Ellipse Waterfall in November 2018, the market was in a difficult space for high-end luxury apartments. “Yet Ellipse proved successful in an amazingly resilient mixed-use precinct,” says Gush.

“The striking architecture of the towers really captured the market. And it sits in a very important growth node between Sandton and Pretoria.” Prices start from R1.6m for an executive one-bedroom 49m2 apartment. Of course, high-rise living isn’t for everyone. Transformed older neighbourhoods appeal to a new generation of investor nowadays. “The Linden on 7th Street in Linden has proved to be extremely popular thanks to its location,” says Gush. “This suburb’s transformation over 20 years has been phenomenal. It’s changed from being a relatively shabby neighbourhood to a trendy, sought-after area with coffee shops and restaurants, all drawing young professionals. “Of the 51 apartments in The Linden, we’ve sold 44 in the past 10 months, in a tough market,” says Gush. Units start at R1.675m, going up to R1.725m for a 95m2 two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a three-storey walk-up.

Sandton Gate 

Precinct perks

The pandemic has accelerated the trend of having everything within arm’s reach. Sandton Gate is a new precinct development by Abland, Tiber and Craft Homes. Phase 1 of the commercial buildings is complete, with offices, beauty salons, gyms and restaurants as tenants. “It’s a no-brainer if you work in the precinct: you can live, work and shop there. You don’t even need to leave. Everything is available,” says Craft Homes marketing manager Jessica Cabanita. “We’re launching The Terrace at Sandton Gate online at the beginning of August,” she says. “There are four levels of apartments and two basement parking levels. So each unit has secure basement parking.” All units have balconies. A 65m2 two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment sells from R1.799m, and a 80m2 two-bedroom, two-bathroom starts from R1.999m.

Appealing extras such as a Miele oven, hob and extractor are included in the price, says Cabanita. The Terrace will also have its own security with perimeter fencing and guards. In addition, the entire Sandton Gate precinct is patrolled. Today’s residents expect a swimming pool and braai facilities in a communal area at a secure estate. The Terrace has that – but private work areas in an apartment layout are something new. “In terms of design, each unit will have either a study nook or workspace. It was highlighted during the lockdown that many people need a designated area for study or work,” says Cabanita. Its location is another a plus in gridlocked Johannesburg. “It’s about smarter living,” she says. “The Terrace is on William Nicol, just outside the Sandton CBD. The fact that it’s not right in the hustle and bustle makes it more affordable. Behind the building, residents have access to the Braamfontein Spruit via a green belt used by bikers and runners.”

Bonsai Estate Apartments

Natural living

In Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs, Multi Spectrum Property (MSP) Developments recently launched Bonsai Estate in Langeberg Ridge, Durbanville. To maintain “an element of natural living”, the developers included landscaped parks and recreational areas with 28 existing trees left on the site. Phase 1 consists of apartments and freestanding homes. “Its designs, finishes, landscaping, amenities, security and location will set Bonsai Estate apart from anything else in the area,” says MSP Developments CEO Riaan Roos. The apartments are likely to be snapped up at a starting price of R1,399,900 (no transfer duties apply) for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit with a balcony, an outdoor braai area and two parking bays. Luxury fittings include stone countertops, Bosch appliances and Hansgrohe and Smeg sanitary ware. Why do properties priced in the vicinity of R1.5m still offer such good value? Balwin Properties is a leader in building sought-after South African residential developments, with a philosophy of overdelivering for the asking price. Balwin PR manager Lisa Sinclair cites The Reid in Linbro Park as an example of an upmarket lifestyle estate offering. Here residents can escape busy city life without sacrificing a convenient location near major highways and a Gautrain station.

“The Reid is all about urban living surrounded by natural beauty,” says Sinclair. “Wi-Fi ready one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments all include ecofriendly appliances, solar-supplemented electricity plus pre-paid electricity and water meters as part of the unit price. An on-site lifestyle centre features cutting-edge leisure and sport facilities.” Prices start from R929,900 for a one-bed, one-bathroom unit up to R1,699,900 for a three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms. Gush predicts that the R1.5m to R1.7m market will remain resilient. “The savvy investor has recognised that in adversity there’s opportunity. With lower interest rates, good properties continue to sell.” For this reason Kent Gush Properties is collaborating on a development in Rosebank that will sacrifice space for smaller, more functional units “made very sexy with a gym and WeWork-type setup”. Apartments are expected to fetch selling prices of between R850,000 and R1.5m. “Before Covid-19, the focus was on communal entertainment facilities such as leisure pools and wine bars. More future developments will have communal entertainment facilities and hot desks,” says Gush. “A lot of young people may be working in remote situations more often.” No argument there. 

“It was highlighted during the lockdown that a lot of people need a designated area for study or work” Jessica Cabanita, marketing manager, Craft Homes

The Reid in Limbro Park Apartment

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