Durban – a diverse market offering great value for home buyers

Durban has always been a very popular city: with its enviable year-round climate, warm ocean and well-planned urban layout, it offers a convenient lifestyle with a host of amenities on its doorstep. 

The city’s residential property market is unique in that it is very diverse. This means that it literally caters for every budget and a wide spectrum of buyers, says Carol Reynolds, Pam Golding Properties area principal in Durban.

This magnificent five bedroom (all en suite) home in prime location in Essenwood, Durban was recently sold by Pam Golding Properties for R8.8 million. Originally built as a bungalow in 1895-1897 and renovated in 1934, this home is modernised with upmarket finishes while maintaining its character of extensive teak wood panelling, parquet floors and redwood cedar shingles. It includes five reception rooms, three private patios with views of sea, city and harbour, a lift, office, swimming pool, four garages and double staff accommodation with kitchen.

The suburbs that traditionally fall into the Durban area include the beachfront, CBD, Glenwood, Bulwer, the Berea and Morningside. “The area is therefore expansive and buyers can choose from beachfront to urban living or suburbia, depending on their own individual preferences and requirements.  

“The CBD has been problematic for several years, as large corporates have vacated the area and moved north to La Lucia and uMhlanga, but we are seeing a resurgence of interest in the area, with enquiries from large developers seeking to upgrade the central city. A CBD facelift will transform the area, and should this transpire, renewed confidence will see investors re-enter the area.”

For now, the CBD is comprised mostly of sectional title units (95%) with the average selling price of an apartment R345 000. Forty-four percent of recent buyers are between the ages of 18 and 35 years, indicating that first-time buyers are able to enter the market because of its affordability. The LSM (living standards measure) for the area is 4 – 7. (Lightstone statistics)

“The greatest need in this area is parking and security. One of the challenges the area faces is the fact that the banks will not necessarily finance some of the apartment blocks, and hence buyers need to be mindful of this when looking to purchase.

“Moving towards the sea, North Beach has been cited by Lightstone as the best performing suburb in the mid to high property sector in KwaZulu-Natal, which is fantastic news for the area. In fact, investors continue to drive the residential property market while the holiday market has recovered with people buying second homes in the area.”

Prices here also provide value for money. On average, an apartment in North Beach will cost R751 000 and sea-facing beachfront units range from R800 000 to the early R2 millions - depending on size and specifications. The LSM in this area is high at 8.

Situated in a sought after location in prime upper Glenwood, Durban – close to schools and hospitals, with bay, sea and city views, this spacious five bedroom, three bathroom, beautifully maintained home offers excellent value for money. It includes three lounges, dining room large study, eat-in granite kitchen, scullery, laundry, upstairs balconies, swimming pool, storeroom, three staff rooms with kitchen and bathroom, level garden, good security and 12 parking bays. This exceptional property is priced at R3.75 million through Pam Golding Properties.

Says Reynolds: “South Beach has also performed well, and Lightstone ranks this as the highest performing suburb in the middle range in KZN. So all round, the beachfront has certainly come alive post the recession and with the extra security, well-maintained promenade and popular beach restaurants, the area has returned to its former glory.

“South Beach offers exceptional value – nowhere else in the world can buyers snap up beachfront property at these prices.  These average at R300 000, but again, the sea-facing units will achieve prices of R1 million. The LSM for the area is 7-8 so whilst prices offer great value, the area appeals to a higher income group, because it is largely driven by investors and the holiday home market.”

The Durban suburbs continue to hold their own as popular nodes, largely because of the convenience on offer and the excellent schools that are scattered across the area. Glenwood is home to some of KZN’s finest schools, and hence this suburb continues to attract young families. Schools in the area include Glenwood High School, Glenwood Junior Primary and Preparatory Schools, Durban Girls High, Penzance Primary School and Eden College private school. The Berea has several top schools like Durban Girls College, DPHS (Durban Preparatory High School) and Maris Stella. The Berea is a very diverse market attracting not only young families with school-going children, but also retirees, investors and first time buyers looking to enter a market that still offers good value.

Says Reynolds: “On the Berea, you can expect to pay R2 million for an average three bedroom home in Essenwood, and approximately R1.5 million to R1.8 million for an average home in Musgrave. Essenwood and Musgrave have a high LSM of 9 and both markets comprise 75% sectional title and 25% freehold. On average, sectional title units in these areas will cost approximately R1 million. Essenwood achieves high prices in the upper pockets, for example, we recently sold a home here for R8.8 million, which again illustrates the diversity of the area.”

She says Morningside is perhaps the most sought-after node in the Durban market. “Upper Morningside has always been an extremely desirable area, and boasts beautiful grand colonial mansions spanning over 1000sqm on erven of over 2000sqm. Sea views are the norm and the generous proportions and build quality from a bygone era is difficult to beat. These mansions are owned by the Durban elite, politicians and local business executives who come from generations of wealth.  A home of this stature in this area will cost anywhere from R10 million up to R25 million.”

Again, indicative of the wide range of homes in the area, the average price for a sectional title unit in Morningside is around R900 000 while the average freestanding home will cost R2.1 million. The LSM for the area is high – sitting at 9.

Adds Reynolds: “In summary, Durban is a vibrant area with a very active property market that caters for all sectors of the market. Our agents are equipped as sectional title and full title specialists and also deal with shareblock ownership in this node.”

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