Old versus new in the Cape’s southern suburbs

The demand for new-builds has caught up with that of pre-owned houses in the sought-after suburbs at the “back” of Table Mountain. But does the value of the area’s shiny new homes match up to that of its period charmers? 

This historic four-bedroom home in Upper Constantia’s Silverhurst Estate is for sale through Chas Everitt International for R33,5m. Built in the French Provincial style, its features include a double-volume entrance hall with sweeping marble staircase, four fireplaces and a landscaped garden with fountain. 

Until recently there were two strongly opposing camps of buyers in Cape Town’s leafy southern suburbs, says Sally Gracie, Chas Everitt International’s area specialist in Constantia Upper, but now they are moving closer together. 

“Previously, there were those who would only consider older properties with their ‘character’ and original features, and those who were only interested in the easy-living and low maintenance offered by newly-built homes,” she says.

“However, in the past few years we have seen a definite thawing of attitudes as developers and builders broaden their offerings – and appeal – while even the most ardent period-property owners balk at the ever-rising electricity, utility and maintenance costs of their high-ceilinged homes.”

Boasting some of the most luxurious houses in the Cape Peninsula, the suburbs of Rondebosch, Claremont, Wynberg, Constantia, Bishopscourt and Tokai remain a firm favourite with families who want to be close to the area’s quality schools and the University of Cape Town, she says.

“But while suburbs like Bishopscourt and Upper Constantia were traditionally coveted for their rambling estates with historic manor houses, we’ve noticed an increasing demand for newly-built luxury properties on smaller stands.

“The demand for lower maintenance homes and a secure lifestyle is being driven largely by buyers from other provinces, particularly Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, who are prepared to compromise on size in exchange for the considerable benefits of living in Cape Town. As a result, developers are cashing in and we’re seeing more and more top-end developments going up.”

Gracie says that while newly-constructed houses in these areas tend to cost more than similar pre-owned homes – sometimes as much as 30% more – buyers are also increasingly aware of the major ongoing savings to be made, especially during the first few years of ownership, in terms of maintenance, utilities and property rates.

Currently under construction in Stonehurst Estate, this contemporary four-bedroom home is for sale through Chas Everitt International for R16,9m. Located in a prime position in the 100ha eco-estate, it boasts state-of-the-art security and access to all amenities, including a gym and heated swimming pool. 

“And for buyers yearning to put their own finishing touches to a brand-new luxury home, we are currently marketing a four-bedroom, four-bathroom home that is currently being built in Stonehurst Mountain Estate for R16,9m. This freehold property is located in a prime position at the foot of the Silvermine Mountains in the upmarket 100ha eco-estate, which boasts state-of-the-art security and amenities, including a fully-equipped gym and heated swimming pool.”

On the other hand, she says, those who prefer a home with a story to tell will love the historic four-bedroom home in Upper Constantia’s Silverhurst Estate that is currently being marketed by Chas Everitt International for R33,5m. “Built in the French Provincial style, its period features include a double-volume entrance hall with a sweeping marble staircase, and no less than four fireplaces. There is also a landscaped garden with a fountain.”

While vacant stands are a scarcity in the southern suburbs, Chas Everitt International is currently also marketing an 8443sqm plot of land in Upper Constantia for R11,95m. Boasting one of the most desirable locations in the southern suburbs, this stand was once a nursery and features an abundance of fruit trees and birdlife, as well as a river and waterfall.

Gracie points out that a built-from-scratch house also generally means the absence of transfer duty and no property sale “chain”, so once the bond is approved, owners can move right in. “It should also come with structural warranties so that, if you find anything wrong within a specified time period, the developer is obliged to put it right.”

That said, all those fabulous amenities you saw in the spec home can really add up. “While newly-constructed houses are built to current building code standards, you will have to pay extra for anything over and above the basics. And upgraded features – which are often marked up heavily for the developer’s profit – can end up costing you far more than you ever intended.”

Ultimately, though, the choice between new-build and pre-owned is a matter of personal preference, she says. “Some people like things with a history, others hate hand-me-downs – it’s a simple as that.”

But, as they weigh up whether to buy a shiny new construction or a charming period home, buyers in the southern suburbs can at least be assured of the value of their investment, Gracie notes. “The market in these coveted areas remains virtually ‘recession proof’ due to continued high demand for homes of all kinds.”

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