Kwazulu Natal property market warms up to the city’s development plans

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Samuel Seeff, Chairman of Seeff Properties. Samuel Seeff, Chairman of Seeff Properties.

The greater Durban metropolitan housing market is showing signs of stability and steady growth. Over the past two years, we have seen some stability in both sales volumes and prices.

Around 23,382 properties sold last year, compared to 22,384 in the preceding year and we are hopeful that the market will see similar sales volumes for this year, according to Seeff chairman, Samuel Seeff.

Seeff has achieved sales growth of 24% in 2011 compared to 2010 and for this year, our sales figures are already up by 44% compared to last year. More than 90 percent of all sales still take place in entry-level to mid-market price range below R1,5 million, but Seeff regional manager, Dave Jones says that upper income buyers are now starting to make their move. Understandably, the north coast holiday market, from Umhlanga up to Ballito, is still seeing subdued demand for luxury homes, but Seeff believes that sales volumes could be boosted by the successful implementation of economic and tourism development plans for the region.

The development of the Dube Trade Port will not only bring about economic and job and potential entrepreneurial growth and stimulate first time buying and demand from buyers looking to upgrade to bigger homes or better suburbs, but aims to open up increased visitors from SADEC and East Africa. These regions include emerging economies such as Nigeria and Angola that are growing at between 6 and 8 percent, significantly higher than the traditional European foreign markets which are beset by continued economic instability, continues Seeff. Plans are already afoot to increase the number of direct flights from these regions and Seeff believes that this will open up a potential new target market for second homes and investment properties.

Jone also points out that strong development of the broader area has seen the transition of Ballito from a “holiday market” to a strong permanent residential market with national brands in education, such as Trinity House establishing schools in the area.

Warm waters, an enviable tropical climate and laid back coastal lifestyle have long since combined to make the greater Durban area one of the most sought-after cities to live and work in, adds Jones. The region’s infrastructure is excellent. The city itself along with its south and north coast have always been popular with holiday makers from the country’s inland provinces and offers a real appeal to visitors from Africa. The upgrade of the beachfront strip is well underway we have at least two of the country’s top shopping malls; The Pavilion in Westville and Gateway in Umhlanga, believed to be the largest in the southern hemisphere. In addition to just about every sought-after local brand, international brands at Gateway is growing, the Spanish brand, Zara being the latest addition.

The historically low interest rate, subdued property prices and further easing of the banks’ mortgage lending criteria makes it one of the best buyers’ market in decades. The growth potential of the KZN property market is exciting, continues Seeff. Estate agents and principals, especially independent and small operators should start looking to migrate towards established brands such as ours where they can benefit from advanced infrastructure, technology and marketing reach. Seven out of ten of our operating licences in the region are already amongst the market leaders in their respective areas. Our Scottburgh/Pennington, Umhlanga, Pietermaritzburg, Queensburgh and Ballito branches have already exceeded 100% growth for this year compared to last year, he adds.

As part of our growth plans for the region, we are actively recruiting new principals and agents. One of our flag ship offices, the Hillcrest Kloof operation, a market leader in the upper highway area has already doubled their office size and agent complement to capitalise on the region’s growth potential. Our Mid-South Coast area has also opened an additional office in the Pennington with five new agents to support the existing Scottburgh office. We have also taken on 15 interns on a structured internship programme that will see them fast-tracked to full agent status within the next six months.



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