Cape Town’s Mowbray and Rosebank enjoy unprecedented demand

For many years the eclectic suburbs of Mowbray and Rosebank were regarded as the stomping ground of students and bohemian artists, with lower property prices than the rest of Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs and a slower market clearly reflecting this attitude.

VICTORIAN CHARM: With four spacious bedrooms, and beautiful Victorian wooden floors and windows and a sunny north facing covered patio, this Mowbray house is the ideal family home. It has two single garages, an automated gate and high security walls and is on the market for R3.55 million
However, nowadays it’s a very different scenario, with property values increasing rapidly and demand so high that homes spend very little time on the market.
This is according to Tina Malyon, Area Specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, who says: “A decade ago, the median house price in Mowbray was a very affordable R835 000 and in Rosebank it was around R1.1 million. It often took months to sell a property, with some homes remaining on the market for more than six months.
“As demand for property in Cape Town spiked and prices in these suburbs followed suit, investors began to realise the value they offered and a steady nominal escalation of 11% per year in both areas took the average house price in Mowbray to R1.43m and R1.85m in Rosebank in 2010. By 2015 the average house price was nudging R3m in Rosebank and almost R2.4m in Mowbray.”
Spurred by the expanding student population, apartments fared even better, with the average price in Mowbray steadily increasing from R340 000 in 2005 to around R1.1m by the end 2015 and in Rosebank the modest 2005 price of R600 000 rocketed to R1.535m.
Malyon says that the current demand far outstrips supply and most of the properties she lists are now snapped up almost immediately, frequently for the asking price and sometimes for more.
“I recently listed five properties in Mowbray and sold two of them within the first two weeks. One was a house in Clifton Road which sold for R2.9m and the other in Belmont Road fetched R2.65m.
“We are also seeing more activity at the upper end of these markets, with the top prices nudging upwards.”
Since the beginning of 2015 to date, 13 houses were sold in Mowbray to a combined value of R24.41m, with four being in the R2.5 to R5m price band and in Rosebank 14 sales during this period realised R52.1m with five being in the suburb’s upper price band of R5m to R10m.
Despite the surge in sales and property values in these two suburbs, they are still very accessible in terms of pricing in the Southern Suburbs and not only offer excellent value for money in the area, but are also closer in proximity to the CBD than suburbs such as Claremont, Tokai or Constantia.
These two drawcards have been key driving factors in the change of the buyer demographic, which is now dominated by professionals and young families who are replacing the avant-garde artists and aspirant authors.
Lew Geffen, Chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty says that the influx of these new investors has pushed the Living Standards Measure  of the area up to 9 (on a scale of 1 to 10) with the average monthly household income now in the R24 000 and R37 000 bracket.
“This is also reflected in the growing percentage of residents who have owned their properties for less than seven years. They currently make up 33%.of the population and 60% of residents are under the age of 49.”
Both suburbs also have very active rental markets, with around half of the purchases now being investment buys.
Arnold Maritz, Co-Principal of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Southern Suburbs, says aside from the pool of young professionals and families wanting to rent property in these suburbs, the lack of student accommodation available in the vicinity of the University of Cape Town has been highlighted in news reports for months now.
“There are in excess of 27 000 students at UCT and fewer than 7 000 beds available in the university’s official residences. More than 20 000 students therefore need to find off-campus accommodation, which is why Mowbray and Rosebank are such attractive suburbs in which to buy investment properties because tenants are pretty much guaranteed.
“There are many parents with the means to either rent decent accommodation for their offspring, or even buy an investment property for the duration of their children’s studies, because they know at the end of the day there is a profit to be made when they sell.”
Although very similar in character, the property landscape does differ between Mowbray and Rosebank. In Mowbray 69% of the properties are freehold and in Rosebank the converse is true with sectional title homes dominating at 68%.
What they have in common is their lively cultural mix, eclectic array of retail and entertainment amenities and the dominance of Victorian architecture, with many of these homes now having undergone tasteful restoration.
Mowbray and Rosebank also enjoy the benefit of being conveniently situated. They are not only a short drive from the city centre but are also a stone’s throw from numerous good local schools, excellent medical facilities and myriad retail offerings.

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