Housing development comes alive in Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein is abuzz with new residential development and building activity in response to rising demand for housing in the capital city.

Riaan Malan, principal of the local Aida franchise, says: “Homebuilding here pretty much shut down a few years ago because of the unavailability of new municipal services, but now we are seeing lots of new development, especially on vacant stands in areas such as Woodlands, Noordstad, Pellisier and Pentagon Park.

“Closer to the university, we are also seeing older homes being demolished to make way for new townhouses and student apartments.”

Generally, he says the new homes being created in Bloemfontein are family houses in the R1m to R1,2m price range, as builders respond to rising interest in the city as a family-friendly place to live.

“The highest demand is still for homes costing less than R1m, especially in the suburbs to the south of the city, but we have excellent schools here, a top university and a low crime rate and this is attracting buyers from out of town who can afford to buy in the more upmarket northern areas.”

It is still tough to conclude sales, though, notes Malan, “because the banks are highly risk averse”. Even financially strong buyers have to have deposits of 10 to 15%, he says, and investors are being asked to put a minimum of 20% down. “This means that in many cases, we actually have to market and sell the property two and three times over before the banks will approve a buyer.”

And fears about not getting a new bond are putting the lid on upgrading and downscaling among longstanding residents of Bloemfontein. ”Indeed, many owners in Dan Pienaar and Waverley who might have considered moving are now staying put and just renovating and modernising their existing homes,” he says.

Meanwhile, the additions and alterations business is also booming in Westdene, closer to the city, where many of the older homes are being converted to offices that accommodate professional practices.

Article by: www.aida.co.za