Uptick in vacant land sales | Everything Property

Uptick in vacant land sales

vacant land

WORDS: Dr Andrew Golding

Over the past year we have seen an increased demand for vacant land which, could at least partially, reflect the semigration trend to areas like George, for example. Given that the movement is primarily from Gauteng (which has a well-established estate / security, gated estate sector) to the coastal regions which has a small but growing estate housing sector, much of the demand for vacant plots is within estates – so people are having to build their own homes in estates because they don’t now exist

It could also be the result of people moving from metro areas to smaller towns – where the housing stock is more geared for retirees, holiday homes and the like, rather than people who are now moving there permanently with their families and who are used to a certain way of living – and wish to recreate it in that smaller town. Two notable elements are: 

  • How affordable homes are in these towns
  • How active sales have been in many surprising places

The Eastern Cape towns and the Gauteng South and east come to mind in particular. Finally, the increase in vacant land sales could also reflect the fact that it is cheaper and more efficient to build a new green home than to retrofit an old home to be energy and/or water efficient. A truly green home requires specific architectural design to make it sustainable and energy efficient, making building a new home more appealing.


One of the key characteristics of the SA housing market is the young age profile of the population, which means there is a steady influx of young adults needing a place to stay. For those who can afford to leave home, most traditionally start by renting. One of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic was that the aggressive interest rate cuts implemented in the early stage of 2020 suddenly made home ownership more accessible to a large percentage of young adults and we saw a surge in FTHB during the early stages of Covid-19. This trend obviously was limited by high unemployment rates.

Nonetheless, the rental market was hit, particularly as the travel bans meant that the bulk of short-term rental properties were shifted into the long-term rental pool, further weighing on rentals. That ultimately shifted back to pre-Covid patterns, particularly as interest rates have been hiked rapidly and the economy remains weak, compelling most potential FTHBs back into the rental market. The resumption of tourism and business travel – and the prospect of a bumper summer season – has seen the rental economy begin to recover as demand for short-term rentals improves.

There has been a marked increase in applications for investment or buy-to-rent properties in recent months, according to ooba. This suggests that buyers see the residential property market as an attractive investment proposition, and could also include those who ultimately intend to semigrate elsewhere in the country, opting to gain a foothold in their desired town or metro housing market with an investment or rental property until such time as they are ready to relocate.


Affordability is prompting many people to live together. It has long been a South African trend – families share homes (voluntarily but in some cases due to financial circumstances) but also students sharing accommodation. More recently there has been an increase in the number of young professionals buying homes together – sometimes not as partners but just as friends. For young adults the options seem to be — in the case of affordability constraints but also because of the desire for company — to buy a micro apartment in a development with shared spaces and an in-house community, or to club together with friends and purchase a home.

vacant land


Over the past year we have found that the most popular investment destinations are Mauritius and Portugal, though we have recently seen an uptick in interest in UK property, such as the recently released Brent Cross Town development with 6,700 new homes with parks, open play grounds and retail only 12 minutes by tube to Kings Cross in the heart of London.

For most people, EU Citizenship remains the ultimate goal, while hedging their ZAR portfolio in hard currency real estate, and diversifying their portfolios, coupled with a long-term, retirement plan. Most favoured in Portugal are the bespoke hospitality developments offering Golden Visa opportunities from €280,000. Early next year we will be launching both the Greece Golden Visa programme and the Spanish Golden Visa programme.

Global mobility has increased and so permanent residency has been elevated as an important reason to purchase offshore. Generally, South Africans tend to invest between $375,000 and USD5 million. Mont Choisy Golf & Beach Estate in Mauritius remains in demand among SA buyers, who like the estate feel and facilities, as well as the proximity to Grand Baie. In Seychelles, lifestyle is a big factor for buyers on Eden Island, with incredible sailing, fishing, snorkelling and diving with some of the best conditions in the world. Some buyers opt for the Residency which is available for anyone to apply for as long as you own a home in Seychelles.

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