News from - South Coast properties: Pat Symcox – director, Colliers International KZN
MONEYWEB: Pat Symcox is a director of Colliers International in KwaZulu-Natal. Pat, good to actually drag you away from the television set, where South Africa seem to be doing pretty well. But we want to talk about South Coast properties. The South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal for a long time has been the poor cousin of the North Coast. Is that changing?

PAT SYMCOX: Hi Alec, good evening, and to the listeners as well. Yes, certainly there's no doubt there are some major projects and major developments happening. And you're right, over the last couple of years that has been a poor cousin. I think just before the National Credit Act came into play and we started to get the financial squeeze on all of us one sensed there was a boom opportunity happening - and there are a couple of major projects that are just bubbling. Certainly there's one in Hibberdene. There's the Hibberdene harbour and marina, which has now recently been signed, three days ago, by the municipality. That's in excess of a R3.2bn deal, so that'll change the face of that midpoint. And then of course the change of the airport up to the North Coast is creating a business hub around the Margate area, because that's where the new airport would have to be. And then of course that would impact on the development in Amanzimtoti. But, Alec, the one thing that's really been interesting is watching Rand Merchant Bank, RMB, sort of taking some shares on the Crookes sugar estates. There's a lot of talk as to how that would pan out, and if it's not a Moreland-type deal taking place behind the scenes.

MONEYWEB: When we were in Pennington on holiday earlier this year, I nearly bought a house. The prices seemed to be offering that much value.

PAT SYMCOX: Why didn't you talk to us?

MONEYWEB: Spoke to the wrong agent [laughs] or maybe the wrong bank manager! But Pat, the prices do seem to be fairly good value on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Is that just because one's comparing with, say, Johannesburg?

PAT SYMCOX: No, I think the prices are pretty much lower than in Johannesburg. But they are certainly lower than the North Coast. We've seen over the years that there has been a creep, but what we are seeing is a move from Durban South - you know, the typical Hillcrest-type place, where it's 25 minutes, one road, down Fields Hill. You can almost come down south and commute to Durban on a double highway. So we're seeing that as a bit of growth. But yes, the prices are ... but there are pockets. I mean, Scottborough is a vibrant little community, and Pennington is a little bit more upmarket. Definitely in the Hibberdene area we are not seeing movement of housing or commercial right now because, hey, you know what, there's a R3.2bn harbour on the horizon, and who wants to get out of the market then? So it is low, but we always have Margate, and Uvongo is a tourist destination for every guy who's got a house in Springs, Brakpan, Benoni and Boksburg.

MONEYWEB: So for the bargain hunters like Peter Major, is this the place to be looking?

PAT SYMCOX: I think so. I think that now is the time - and of course you'd say that because you come from a real estate background. But you are seeing a squeeze on everyone, and I think you can pick up some bargains right now. There's no doubt about it.

MONEYWEB: Just to bring you up to date, South Africa have just lost their first wicket at 51 for 1, chasing England at 203. Pat is a former Proteas star. Peter Major, I guess that's the place you're going to be looking next time for your bargain to invest all of those well-gotten gains?

PETER MAJOR: Not wild enough for me, Alec!

MONEYWEB: Wild enough for you, indeed!

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