Sandton sales volumes up

THE slowdown in the national property market, partly as a result of the introduction last June of the National Credit Act , appears to have been less brutal in Johannesburg’s Sandton area in terms of sales than in most other parts of the country.

While Sandton’s average selling price dipped 8% to 12% in the first four months of the year, according to Glenn Norton, broker owner of RE/MAX Masters, unit sales have increased by the same margin, which he says is hugely underpinned by equity-supported home loans and outright cash-driven activity.

Norton says there has been a substantial increase in sales involving deposits and cash purchases. “About 18 to 24 months ago, most transactions were driven by 90% to 108% loans to the value of the property, but now the trend is towards equity-supported sales.

“Cash sales are being directed mainly in the R2,5m to R7m price channel, while equity-backed deals are focused on the R1,2m to R3m asking price. Below R1,2m, the 100% bond transactions still dominate. Most popular areas are Paulshof and Sunningdale in the R800000 to R2m price range.”

Because of its facilities and good access points, Norton says Bryanston is “an area where buyers can never make a mistake”. This is de spite the slowdown in the suburb’s trend to sub-divide its large stands due mainly to Eskom’s inability to meet power demands.

“Further factors pumping the generally good activity came from sellers coming to terms with market adjustment. After holding firm in the last half of last year for inflated prices, they are now biting the bullet on asking price and negotiation. Market stimulation has also come from bargain hunters quick to respond to opportunities afforded by falling prices and investors getting better returns on rentals,” says Norton.

RE/MAX Masters has noted a marked slowdown in new residential developments. It attributes this to a general shortage of land , the inherent dangers of new units to compete on price with second-hand homes and local authorities’ inability to put new infrastructure in place.

SCALING DOWN IS GAINING MOMENTUM

SCALING down to a high-security complex or village is the trend. Heather Cape, Greeff Properties’ development division director, says today’s tighter economy, higher interest rates and the rapidly rising cost of maintaining and servicing big properties, together with the need for improved security, have made it essential for people (especially in the 55-plus age group) to scale down their homes.

“This is happening at a steadily increasing pace,” says Cape. This was corroborated by Mike Greeff, the company’s chief executive.

“Five years ago,” says Greeff, “we saw people hanging on to large, empty-nester properties until they were almost incapable of getting around them. Couples nowadays are usually eager to scale down as soon as possible, sometimes having two manageable units, a townhouse and a weekend retreat.”

In general, he says , the larger the house, the more difficult it is to protect. “By contrast, modern compact apartments, townhouses and security villages are almost always exceptionally well protected.”

Greeff Properties’ development division is marketing new developments well suited to down-scalers looking for added security.

Among these are The Eight, an eight-unit security village in which most of the houses are semi-detached and are priced from R4,25m to R4,95m, and The Chelsea in Wynberg village, where units are priced from R2,44m to R2,75m.

Other security developments include The Majestic in Claremont, where available units are priced from R1,25m to R3,1m, and The Curzon in Klein Constantia Road, Constantia, where freestanding homes are priced from R13,2m to R13,6m.

“The signs are now clear,” says Greeff, “that the market is moving towards these types of units.”

COMMUTERS FIND VALUE IN KYALAMI

AS FUEL prices soar and the route between Johannesburg and Pretoria becomes ever more congested, many homebuyers working in one city and living in the other are choosing to relocate to Kyalami, at the halfway mark.

Among the most sought-after developments in this area is the well-established Kyalami Glen estate, where the last phase of cluster homes is being marketed by Sable Homes. This cluster village has two advantages over many other developments in the area in that the security systems and services — including the power supply – are in place. Indicative of the demand for centrally located, secure developments, already more than half the available units have been purchased.

Still on offer are 17 luxury three-bedroom, two-bathroom, double garage homes from around R1,6m on an all-inclusive basis. Available in single-storey designs, these homes are on stands of 400m² to 650m² and can be customised by adding studies, TV rooms, and staff quarters. They include entertainment areas and covered patios.

Some stand transfers have taken place and construction is expected to start in the next few weeks, with occupation set for the end of the year. Construction will be by Lenco, which also built the cluster homes in the earlier phases of Kyalami Glen.

Sable Homes sales and marketing director Keith Nash says the response to the final phase of clusters indicates there is still good demand for developments that are well-conceived and properly implemented, despite the market downturn.

“Kyalami Glen has everything buyers want, including a convenient location, top-of-the-line security provisions already in place, and services such as electricity already laid on so there is no uncertainty about supply, as well as competitive pricing. And the result is a high degree of interest that will lead to the last of these units being sold in a very short time,” says Nash.

GETTING IT RIGHT

IN AN Industry News article on June 6 2008, it was incorrectly stated that Private Property had become a listed company.

After 10 years of championing the cause of the private seller, Private Property, Africa’s busiest property website, recently announced it had bought back all its franchise offices for R25m. The franchises were replaced by six branches servicing most of the country, with satellite listing consultants servicing the more rural areas.

Over the years, the Private Property offering morphed into more of an estate agency service than an internet portal where buyers and sellers could meet to transact. “ To refocus on our core business, which is listing property on the internet, we had to rid ourselves of the legacy created over the past decade. In May, as a first step, we operated without any franchise infrastructure. Over the course of the next six months, we will introduce a far more updated package in line with modern internet trends,” says Private Property CEO Justinus Adriaanse.

Adriaanse says: “To really be the people’s champion of the property industry, we realised we had to focus on listing property on behalf of our clients. The added services we have provided up to now will be operated independently from May by separate divisions and service providers.

“We will continue to publish the best quality information about property for sale on the internet. And we will be releasing new products shortly that will further improve the quality of each listing for an enhanced buying experience.”

Private Property clients will be able to edit their content and also load their property listings. Adriaanse says Private Property will continue to offer value-added services. These will also include video and virtual tour facilities, which will be offered through any of the six newly opened branch offices.

Article from: www.businessday.co.za