All the rage

The rocketing fuel price is making tele-working from home an increasingly popular option while other factors contributing to this trend are South Africa’s congested road system around cities and rising tolls.

“Tele-working is becoming a more acceptable option to employers, traditionally slow to embrace the concept of employees working from remote stations," says Martin Schultheiss, CEO of estate agency group Homenet. "But new economic realities are expected to turn the tide in this respect.

“Self-employment has also grown apace as many former employees have used severance packages or early retirement packages to set up small businesses, often run from home offices,” Schultheiss says.

“This trend has led to resurgence in the popularity of homes that have enough room for dedicated office space.”

Suggestions should you want to go this route

Schultheiss adds that even spare bedrooms are being put to use as home offices. He suggests the following for homeowners who want to create office space in their homes:

  • Space that can be physically closed off from the main living areas will allow you to work and receive visitors without interruption from the rest of the household. It will also encourage members of the household to treat the office area as a no-go area. Possible rooms include a spare bedroom, a study or a converted garage.
  • Rooms should have enough storage and workspace. Avoid bulky commercial office furniture if space is at a premium and rather choose light, versatile furniture that can be moved around easily.
  • Make sure that the work area can be wired for all necessary office equipment such as a dedicated business phone line, fax or broadband internet access.
  • And finally, get rid of all distractions. It is not a good idea to install TVs or game consoles or to slink off during office hours to attend to household chores.

While home offices are becoming all the rage, strong growth in demand for more traditional office space and industrial property provides a good pointer to where the bold investor in residential property should put his money.

Where non-residential property development takes place residential property growth follows

Gerhard Kotzé, CEO of the ERA South Africa property group, says that where non-residential property development takes place residential property growth follows.

“The drivers behind commercial and industrial property development are well researched by investors and in many respects are identical to those that will ensure an accompanying healthy residential property market.

“In a softer market such as we now have, it’s clearly important to be more selective, as with any other asset class. But there are bargains to be had and historically residential property has always delivered solid returns. Lower prices also mean less ‘gearing’ by the borrower to service a bond while paradoxically, with fewer buyers around, rentals are rising ensuring a better return on investment than even 18 months ago.”

As for areas of choice, among the top-25 major office nodes in the country the latest research singles out Pretoria, Durban and Nelspruit for their sound commercial and industrial property markets, he says.

According to property economists Rode & Associates, Durban is doing particularly well in both the industrial and office markets with four of its seven office nodes among the top-25 in the country.

“However, the most surprising finding is the growth potential shown by Nelspruit. It comes out as the top-ranked office market in the country, implying a robust local economy accompanied by a strong residential market.”

Gauteng is however far from losing out in the 'best areas to invest in' stakes, says Kotzé. “The Knowledge Factory, for example, recently published the results of a survey to identify the top-10 residential suburbs in South Africa by highest volume of sales, highest value and highest average value. In Gauteng Bryanston, Sandton, Morningside and Sandown come out well in terms of increases in value.

“Based on the best annual volume of sales the Sowetan suburb of Protea Glen was the clear leader followed by Cosmo City and areas such as these have to be a serious consideration for the canny investor.”

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