Homes wired for profits

LIVING BY REMOTE: Fairview on 14th, a West Rand complex fitted with everything from plasma-screen TVs to broadband Internet

Property developers are putting in hi-tech extras to woo buyers

Viruly predicts that boardrooms will one day become features of townhouse complexes. And people will be willing to pay a premium for this

As Gauteng’s property market slows, developers are selling lifestyles — not just houses.

Some “starter homes” for young couples now come with everything from high-speed Internet wiring to top-end sound equipment and plasma- screen televisions to woo buyers.

As rising interest rates have led to a slowing of property price increases — from 35% in 2004 to 13.3% this month — developers have had to up their game to sell townhouses and cluster homes for profits they previously enjoyed.

On the West Rand, a “luxury” development, aimed at young corporate employees and yuppie couples, is selling flats complete with 42-inch plasma-screen televisions, under-floor heating and appliances with metallic finishes.

The development, called Fairview on 14th, is nearly sold out before construction has started.

The complex’s sales and marketing manager, Jerry Horn, says the “attractive extras” did the trick.

“We basically wanted an upmarket development which was exclusive for the price we were asking.

“The land was very expensive so the price then goes up and buyers would need an incentive other than the property to buy into this lifestyle,” he said.

The two-bedroom, two- bathroom homes of about 100m² sell for around R1.2-million, which also includes home theatre surround-sound systems with CD and DVD players, built-in braais, washing machines, broadband Internet and satellite television.

And they are selling fast.

“People are quite surprised by the concept, but we do have only eight of the 52 apartments left,” said Horn.

Darryl Mayers, managing director of a property developer and estate agency firm, said extras like high-speed Internet, sound and home theatre equipment were a must for the upwardly mobile.

“It depends on the requirements of the area but our top-end developments are smart-wired for wireless Internet access, sound systems and that sort of thing.”

Mayers said developers were selling “sizzle and lifestyle” because they aimed to attract buyers “who want to move in and do nothing”.

“But people must look at the underlying benefits of buying apartments with added extras. If you stripped everything out, you must still have sound intrinsic value,” he warned.

Property analyst Francois Viruly said the trend was in keeping with the way technology was heading.

“There is increasingly a view in the property market to find a balance between home, work and play and in the future we will see all buildings wired with hi-tech equipment, wireless connections, IT hubs, et cetera.”

Viruly predicts that boardrooms will one day become features of townhouse complexes.

“And people will increasingly be willing to pay a premium for this.”

But property expert Graham Ewing warned that the “incentives and enticements” were “built into the price of the property — there is nothing for nothing.”

Article by: Shantini Naidoo - www.sundaytimes.co.za