Older areas benefit from ‘homes for life’ trend

The average age of first-time homebuyers in SA has risen from 28 to 36 in the past 10 years, and one of the main reasons is that many young executives and professionals are now choosing to delay their first property purchase until they can buy a “home for life”.
“There is definitely a school of thought now that says homeowners should not move too often but rather stay put, pay off their home loans and build up their equity,” says Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts Real Estate.
“And in keeping with this, we are seeing many young people who might previously have bought a small apartment or townhouse as their first home decide to keep renting instead, until they can afford to buy a bigger property.”
Family homes in older suburbs are becoming a favourite target for such buyers, he says, even if these need modernising and are a bit big for their current needs.
“The plan these buyers have is usually to spend money over time on renovating and upgrading a property that already has the space to accommodate a growing family or even ageing parents if necessary, instead of moving repeatedly and incurring legal fees, bond registration costs and transfer duty each time.”
In addition, Gray says, buyers are increasingly conscious of the opportunity they have while interest rates are still relatively low to acquire “tomorrow’s home at today’s prices” – especially if they are able to purchase a home in an established area that is just starting to be “gentrified” and promises significant value growth in years to come.
“There is also a growing preference for homes that are closer to work, shops, schools and other amenities so their owners can spend less time and money commuting, while some buyers want a property with space for a home office or small business that will also be central and easily accessible for clients.
“And as a result, many older suburbs close to city centres are already enjoying a revival that promises good returns for the current property buyers.”
As for security, he says, buyers in these areas have realised living in a gated complex does not necessarily guarantee more security and that it is sometimes more effective to secure their individual homes and participate in neighbourhood watch and other community-building initiatives.

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