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Cape Town’s dearth of retirement accommodation putting the squeeze on the mid-market

The gap between supply and demand in Pinelands is growing as more buyers are drawn by the leafy suburb’s traditional family atmosphere and the good value it offers, while many keen sellers are holding onto their properties as they have nowhere to go.

This according to Stephen Macpherson, Property Consultant for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Pinelands, who says: “We regularly value homes belonging to retirees and empty-nesters looking to downscale. But more often than not these days their homes don’t make it to market, in particular properties belonging to retirees as they usually have long waits before their names make it to the top of retirement homes’ waiting lists.

“Pinelands residents generally live in the area for many years, at least until their children have left school, and they therefore want to remain in the suburb, but there are very few options available to them and most retirement homes are full with scores of people wanting placement.”

He adds that the Pinelands market is currently very active, with freehold homes being the most sought-after properties. Houses priced at around R3 million are usually snapped up as soon as they come onto the market.

“Our most recent sale was a four bedroom house marketed at R3.295m that was sold within six days, before it even went on show.

“There is great demand from young families who realise Pinelands is one of the few areas in Cape Town where spacious family homes are still accessibly-priced. The suburb is also a renovator’s dream as there are many older properties in the area.”

Houses in Pinelands range between R2.9m for a three bedroom home on a large plot of around 800m² to about R5m for a four bedroom house with separate cottage. The latter are very popular in the rental market.

Similar problems are being experienced across Cape Town’s mid-market suburbs and Herculene Visser, veteran Area Specialist in Tokai for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, reports the same progressive trend in her area of elderly residents finding themselves with nowhere to go.

“There is a critical shortage of affordable options for mature sellers as the new lifestyle retirement villages are generally way beyond their budgets, while those in their price range are full and most people used to spacious houses don’t want to be cooped up in a small room or flat with no garden.”

Visser says that the shortage of retirement accommodation compounded by the affordability factor has sparked a new trend of owners exploring the feasibility of adapting their existing properties to accommodate facilities for a carer should the need arise.

“Hand in hand with this is a noticeable increase in demand for family homes with suitable separate cottages for aging parent(s), which can be rented out until needed.

“On the flip side of the coin, there is a burgeoning demand for these older, accessibly priced homes in the area. We field daily enquiries from young families as well as buyers from areas like Upper Constantia and Zwaanswyk who want to downscale without compromising on lifestyle, or those seeking to avoid the peak hour congestion across Ou Kaapse Weg.”

It has become glaringly apparent in recent years that affordable retirement accommodation will become increasingly challenging for most South Africans. Retirement savings have been steadily whittled away by spiralling consumer inflation and, in Cape Town especially where semigration has swelled the population and rocked house price inflation, suitable homes are becoming a rare commodity.

Unlike most areas, Pinelands does have retirement establishments at accessible prices, but with demand at an all-time high there is very limited space available.

Macpherson says: “Lawrence Village comprises 56 sectional title properties currently priced at around R1.8m, but there are no available units at the moment. Pinewood Village is also full but their online waiting list became available in February this year so it’s the perfect time to get in the queue.

“At Brown and Annie Cottages there are rooms available but no cottages and, although Pinelands Grove does have open units they are life rights properties, which doesn’t suit everyone’s financial needs.”

Lew Geffen, Chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says: “The market boom in Pinelands looks set to continue in the foreseeable future. Despite the economic downturn, a luxurious double storey house fetched the highest sale price ever in the area when it breached the R5m mark in 2015 and last year another top price was achieved when a house sold for R5.45m.

“Compared to other suburbs so close to the CBD, in Pinelands you still get a lot of house for your money across all market segments, but the growing discrepancy between supply and demand is likely to keep driving up property prices.”

Geffen adds: “As one of the oldest and most established suburbs in Cape Town, Pinelands has a distinctive charm and has retained much of its village feel, which is a key factor for those seeking a family-oriented environment in which to raise their children.

“Pinelands is also very conveniently located alongside the N2 freeway interchange, which offers residents the convenience of main routes in all compass directions. It’s also in close proximity to several  commercial nodes and business parks.”


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