In recent years, the upmarket Umhlanga area has become increasingly sought after among home buyers, having transformed into a vibrant, cosmopolitan town with broad appeal, says Elwyn Schenk, area principal for Pam Golding Properties.

“Despite the rapid growth of the area the ‘old’ Umhlanga has retained its ‘village’ ambience and appeal, while benefiting from modern apartment buildings such as the Pearls and Oysters, which have added more than a touch of glamour,” he says.

“On Umhlanga Ridge, the skyline is taking on a ‘Sandton-like’ look with Ridgeside developing into a modern ‘live, work and play’ suburb, attracting investment estimated at around R10 billion. An extension of Umhlanga Ridge Town Centre (which includes Gateway shopping centre and La Lucia Ridge office park), Ridgeside is divided into several precincts, namely mixed use commercial and retail, residential only, and offices. Five office blocks are already occupied with a further 10 under construction. Again much like Sandton, Umhlanga has become a financial hub, with most banks and large corporates having migrated from Durban to Umhlanga Ridge,” says Schenk.

Numerous residential developments have sprung up and Pam Golding Properties have seen a strong demand among home buyers, with recent projects selling rapidly.  In Umhlanga Ridge at PGA Park, a small mixed-use development with ground floor retail and top floor offices, PGP have sold all 16 residential units which are located on the first and second floors.

Says Schenk: “These are starter apartments comprising studios of 40-60sqm and selling between R630 00 and R785 000. As a result of our success in this project the developer plans to build a further residential development nearby, comprising 53 slightly larger 60sqm apartments. To be priced from approximately R990 000, which includes VAT, these will offer excellent value for money, particularly in this good location,” he says.
In addition, at Bahia Club in Ilala Ridge, PGP have sold 60 percent of the total of 33 units at a sales value to date of R23 million.

Commenting on the residential property market in general, Schenk says that sales are progressing steadily, albeit at a slower pace than at the height of the market three years ago. “The Umhlanga market is resilient and its wide appeal and strong commercial growth has attracted those moving in from other areas in the Durban surrounds. Our home buyers are a mix of end users and investors across all sectors of the market. Interestingly, while at the outset of 2011 we noted somewhat of a disjoint in the market whereby properties in the middle market from around R2.5 million to R5 million were not selling as well as the other price ranges - mainly due to the fact that larger bonds are required - we are now seeing increased activity in this price range, which is encouraging. Coupled with this we continue to see lower priced properties up to R2 million selling well, aided by slightly increased lending capacity from the banks in this price bracket, while higher priced sales from around R6 million and above – where mortgage finance is not required – are more frequent,” says Schenk.

Among some of the higher priced properties recently sold by PGP are a four bedroom stately home in Umhlanga Ridge which sold for R5.9 million to a Gauteng buyer; a large three bedroom home in the sought after Chartwell Drive area of Umhlanga and with magnificent sea views, which was sold for R5.8 million to a Johannesburg buyer relocating; a sumptuous 550sqm, five bedroom, five bathroom home in Umhlanga Ridge sold for R6.7 million to a local buyer already living in the area and upgrading; a beachfront apartment sold for R4.3 million to a local buyer and an apartment close to the beach sold for R3.4 million – each being three bedroom units.

Adds Schenk: “We are finding that due to its quality of lifestyle Umhlanga has high appeal for Gauteng business executives, who then commute to their Johannesburg offices. The closer proximity of the new airport further enhances this prospect.”
He says right now the market presents very good value for money, particularly when taking replacement values into consideration. Properties on the market include a 135sqm two bedroom apartment in sought after Oyster Quays in a gated area adjoining the stately Oyster Box Hotel priced at R3.9 million; a three bedroom apartment in Pebble Grove in lower Umhlanga, with direct access to the beach and priced at R4.2 million; a spacious, elevated five bedroom, five bathroom apartment at Royalton with sweeping sea views priced at R7.9 million; and a grand four bedroom, four bathroom home in St James Court in upper Umhlanga priced at R6.9 million.

Issued by Gaye de Villiers

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