Author: Justin Kreusch & Ian Olivier
Principal Agents of Pam Golding Properties
3 March 2021
PE’s sub-R2m property market in demand as homes with a study or office ‘selling in days’
Residential properties with studies or home offices are attracting multiple offers from Port Elizabeth buyers – a trend that wasn’t on the radar 12 months ago.
This is according to Justin Kreusch and Ian Olivier, principal agents of Pam Golding Properties in Port Elizabeth, who say the current market is seeing some unexpected and unusual buying trends.
Aside from an increase in demand for homes with separate workspaces, they say the market is also experiencing more buyers than usual, wanting to relocate to the countryside.
“The pandemic has brought with it a new normal in terms of remote working, and with so many people no longer commuting to the office every day, out-of-town living has become a lot more viable,” explains Olivier.
Out-of-town demand rising
“There is a visible uptick in interest in outlying residential developments such as Crossways Farm Village on the way to Jeffrey’s Bay, and Wedgewood Golf and Country Estate, in Old Cape Road near the Baywest Mall. From previously being a retirement dream for many, living in the country is now becoming a reality for many younger families with school-going children,” says Kreusch.
In the last month alone, Pam Golding Properties in Port Elizabeth has sold four properties in Wedgewood’s newly launched freehold Lifestyle Village development. Ranging in price from R800 000 to R1 million, the bond repayments at the current interest rate – which the South African Reserve Bank kept unchanged at its last meeting – making owning a home as affordable as renting at the moment, adds Olivier
“This, coupled with the tranquil outdoor lifestyle offered within the secure perimeters of these estates, walking and cycling tracks, stunning community centres and reasonable proximity to top schools, is appealing to a younger generation of buyers still feeling the effects of being completely housebound during the hard lockdown and also still working from home.”
Better than expected house price inflation
Another big surprise has been the positive performance of the local property market, which is in line with the findings of the January 2021 Lightstone Residential Property Index, says Kreusch. According to the Index, average national house price inflation was 3.05% as at the end of December 2020, with the mid-value segment outperforming the other bands at 4.9%.
Expectations were that house prices would dip as a result of the pandemic, but “the middle segment of the market has added some speed and the high-value segment remaining fairly stable”, according to Kreusch.
He adds that there is considerable interest in Port Elizabeth’s sub-R2 million market with correctly priced homes moving in days rather than weeks or months. Considering current buyer demand and the fact that there is limited stock available, now is the time to strike for anyone wanting to sell and the more so ahead of an anticipated increase in distressed sellers hitting the market which will inevitably lead to a correction in prices.
Home office upgrades
Another unusual trend, according to Olivier, is the amount of money existing property owners are spending on upgrading their home offices.
“Whereas renovations in the past were primarily focused on other areas, we’re now seeing more people prioritising their workspaces.” Olivier attributes this to the ongoing remote working trend, with global data showing “many would like to have the flexibility to work from home for three or more days of the week even post-Covic-19”.
Having overcome the initial challenges of working from home during the early days of the hard lockdown, with children underfoot and the dining room table for a desk, people have now set up bespoke office spaces and installed new software and equipment with a long-term view, Kreusch notes.
This, he says, is at the heart of one of Ggerberha’s latest market trends, where homes with efficient and ideally separate workspaces are now attracting close to asking prices and in record time. Whereas the main attractions used to be beautiful modern kitchens and luxurious bathrooms, it’s now the humble study that’s pulling the buyers.
Other features topping the priority lists of today’s work-from-home buyers are secured gardens big enough for children to ride their bikes and play ball games, high speed uncapped internet and Wi-Fi, sufficient work tops and plug points, and good overhead lighting, he says.
“The cherry on the top for some of these buyers is separate access or at least a door that leads into the garden which they can leave open on sunny days while keeping an eye on their children.”
“And employers, spurred on by the need to consolidate office space, close branches and trim bottom lines to save costs while riding out the virus, are also increasingly embracing the remote working trend, assisted by technology such as Team Viewer, Skype and other inter-communication platforms. Add to this the enhanced safety of working from home as opposed to the risk of infection when mingling with others in a public workspace, and it makes good sense – and cents – for everyone.”
“Many are actually thriving, saying their productivity is better and their stress levels down.”
*Correction: A previous version of this article referred to the Eastern Cape town of Port Elizabeth as Ggeberha. The Minister of Arts and Culture recently announced seven town and two airport name changes for the Eastern Cape, while these have been gazetted and gone through rounds of public consultation, there remains a final objection window of 30 days before the names can be made official or put into effect.
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