Yes, some people are exploring options offshore. But those sticking with SA are finding plenty of residential opportunities.
With many considering long-term options abroad, it’s time to revisit semigration. Emigration is expensive and involves upheaval. Semigration, on the other hand, can bring about positive lifestyle changes and access to a communityand a secure environment, and doesn’t have to be forever. It also makes good property investment sense,particularly in coastal markets, where resalevalues have remained stable.
The Pam Golding Properties Annual Residential Property Report 2019 notes an increase in emigration from SA. “Emigration sales rose to 13.4% in Q2, which represents a 10-year high, according to FNB,” says CEO Andrew Golding. Naturally, emigration sales are highest among upper-income groups. “The majority of emigrants are leaving from Gauteng, a factor undoubtedly contributing to the subdued Gauteng housing market,” he says.
Golding cites a Lightstone Property report showing that nearly 80% of all properties sold in the past 12 months were priced below R1.5m. For 2020, he foresees a “moderately better” housing market than in 2019.
Appealing to this type of buyer is Balwin Properties’ The Jade in the Paardevlei Precinct, Somerset West. Apartments priced below R1.5m overdeliver on amenities in a good location within walking distance of Strand Beach. Pet-friendly and secure, with braai areas, a communal pool and a gym, this popular estate is one of Balwin’s first solar developments. Ballito Hills in KwaZulu-Natal, also by Balwin, offers premium estate living with a good value proposition. Residents have access to multiple facilities within a beautiful landscape close to the beach. “Our lifestyle estates have world-class security,” says Balwin PR manager Lisa Sinclair. “The modern, practical and aesthetically pleasing apartment designs include ecofriendly kitchen appliances.”
“Semigration is massive on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast – specifically within Sibaya Coastal Precinct and Ballito,” says Rainmaker Marketing CEO Stephan Botha. Close proximity to King Shaka International Airport means semigrating makes complete sense. For those doing a couple of flights a week for work, these locations are convenient. “They are buying into estates from a lock-upand-go perspective. They know their homes and families are secure while they are away during the week,” Botha says. Gold Coast Estate in the Sibaya Coastal Precinct offers freestanding homes within a secure development. One family option on this estate is the soon-to-be launched Parc, with homes selling from R3.5m.
Yes, coastal properties still lead the charge when it comes to semigration destinations. “According to FNB, demand for investment properties has been particularly strong in the coastal metro markets,” says Golding. “Homes within 500m of the coast continue to enjoy a price premium, which has risen from a low of 0.9% in Sep/Oct 2018 to 2.13% in June 2019.”
The Pam Golding report predicts that coastal semigration will continue, primarily in the Garden Route and KwaZulu-Natal. In the Western Cape, appealing destinations on or near the coast include the Boland and Overberg.
“Areas such as Ballito and Knysna, also St Francis Bay, Port Alfred and Jeffreys Bay – previously considered holiday hamlets – have become primary residential areas,” says Golding. “Knysna is also seeing an influx of buyers from Europe. In George, more than half our homebuyers are from outside the Garden Route – mainly Gauteng and the Western Cape.”
Sheena Mare, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty broker/principal in Knysna and Sedgefield, says excellent security makes estate living the preferred choice, especially for retirees. “Knysna and Sedgefield are popular semigration options, but our sales are not reflecting this, as most buyers are hampered by having to sell elsewhere first,” she says. The area is also popular with families who have local businesses or work from home. Leisure Isle and Thesen Islands are in demand for their security aspects.
Mare says there has not been as much movement in the upper end of the market. “The likes of Pezula Private Estate, Simola Golf & Country Estate and Eastford Country Estate have been very quiet this past year.”
Devmark Property Group CEO Hein Ehlers says the Garden Route remains one of SA’s top semigration destinations, adding that Plettenberg Bay has much to offer in this respect. “As a retirement destination, The Plettenberg Manor offers the best security available,” he says.
The Cape Winelands is growing in popularity among those seeking a country lifestyle with easy urban access, says Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Winelands CEO/principal Chris Cilliers. Here, the semigration sector has remained consistent in the past two years despite market conditions, thanks to a steady flow of Cape Town families moving out of the CBD. “For most, the primary motivation is a desire to escape the traffic congestion, escalating crime and bouts of unrest for a safer, quieter life.”
Cilliers fields enquiries from empty-nesters and professionals working remotely, too. These buyers are especially keen on homes in secure estates like Boschenmeer, Val de Vie and Kleine Parys.
Indeed, a different game plays out in the uberwealthy arena. Cape Town is still the most expensive major city in Africa for residential property. It commands an average of $5,600/m2, according to AfrAsia Bank’s 2019 Africa Wealth Report, which compares prices of apartments between 200m2 and 400m2 in an exclusive part of town. Interestingly, Umhlanga pipped Sandton and Nairobi for second place on the continent this year, fetching $2,800/m2 as a residential average.
Val de Vie marketing director Ryk Neethling says he has noticed “twoway traffic”, with people not only emigrating but also returning from Canada, London and Dubai. Opportunities overseas aren’t for everybody. “It’s a bit of a joke, but they’re saying Val de Vie is often the last stop before emigrating. It’s a 1,000ha estate with excellent security, superb schools in the area and a strong community. People often want to see if they can live in this type of environment before taking that big step of emigrating.” Neethling reports that the R15m-plus residential market at Val de Vie still enjoys buyer interest.
“The majority of these buyers are from up north,” he says. “Below R15m, they need to sell their homes in Gauteng first before committing to a purchase.”
Priced to suit a wider range of pockets, KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast offers immense value as a semigration option. “It’s an underrated area with more than 20 fantastic beaches, six top golf courses, fabulous shopping, and medical and schooling facilities,” says Tyson Properties Shelly Beach branch manager Corky Kirby.
Demand is evenly spread between retirement and holiday investment units – mostly sectional title – and full-title homes for family living. “We are seeing a shift towards estate living, with these properties in high demand. Our typical price range is similar across full and sectional title, from R1m to R1.5m, with estate properties starting from R2m,” Kirby says. An obvious pull is fantastic weather all year round.
In the Western Cape, Yzerfontein area specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Johan Truter says a growing number of retirees and midlifers move here to escape the rat race. The coastal town offers a harbour, 16 Mile Beach and a peaceful and secure lifestyle. Unlike elsewhere, freehold homes are preferred over secure complexes in this area, thanks to the West Coast generally being safer. Sectional title properties start from R550,000.
Old Yzerfontein is nearly fully built up, with about 30 stands left, and Pearl Bay, the new side, is booming. “In the new part there are a few beachfront stands remaining, of which the cheapest is priced at about R3.5m,” Truter says. “These properties are an excellent investment, as equivalent properties in Plett and Hermanus would cost R20m or more.”
What about those whose budgets sit somewhere in between? Greg Rhodes-Jones, Tyson Properties director for Howick and Midlands, says this is the place to be. “Because we’re reasonably close to Gauteng and have prestigious schools in the area, families are moving down here, with perhaps one spouse travelling during the week.”
The more popular estates include Garlington Estate in Hilton, Gowrie Farm Estate in Nottingham Road, Bosch Hoek golf estate in Balgowan, Woodridge Estate near Michaelhouse and The Gates at Hilton.