KwaZulu Natal Midlands - property demand.

With access to a variety of good public and private schools and a relaxed, country ambience, the KZN Midlands is within easy reach of Durban and only four-and-a-half hours from Johannesburg.

The proposed Hilcove Hills development, situated on two adjacent erven to the North of the N3 highway, between the Pietermaritzburg  suburb of Bellevue and the residential area of Ashburton, will encompass an array facilities.

The facilities will be a game reserve and conventional housing, a lifestyle village, frail care accommodation and facilities, private hospital, primary school, community facilities, office park and other commercial activities, equestrian centre, 30-suite lodge, chapel, conference centre, wellness centre and spa, restaurant and extensive public and private open space - including the game reserve, conservation and park areas.

“While still in the planning stages, it is clear that this project represents a major investment for the region, and will help cater for the growing demand for accommodation from a broad cross-section of home buyers, from young families through to retirees. Coupled with this, the Cato Ridge area, which forms an important link between Durban and Gauteng, is also experiencing growth, having been identified as a key Outer West Corridor ideal for development into a container hub and industrial node. This is expected to incorporate infrastructure investment in transport routes, industrial and town centre precincts and facilitate opportunities for community and external investors,” says Becker.

Work has already commenced near Hammarsdale and the intention is that the entire area from Hammarsdale through to Cato Ridge will be developed along the back road (MR385). A dry port is also to be developed in due course on the opposite or north side of the N3, and it is hoped that the actual N3 corridor will eventually come to fruition, although at present this area is zoned for agriculture. Various small developments have begun, with Midway Park on the southern side of the N3 set for a mixed use area incorporating commercial and light industrial space, while at the Umlaas Road intersection a large tract of land is being developed for warehousing and light industry.

Growing demand from both retirees and young generation

“We are seeing a growing demand for accommodation among retirees, who are more concerned with being cared for than proximity to cities or airports. Many senior citizens have no family left in the country and need to ensure that their needs will be catered for by professionals. While the Howick area has excellent retirement facilities, with well-run villages with frail care, nursing and meals provided, a  good hospital and medical facilities, Pietermaritzburg and Hilton are short of stock as development costs have inhibited new developments in recent years during the economic slowdown.”

Becker says in the Pietermaritzburg area there’s an increasing trend towards a young generation of home buyers, mainly in the 25-45 year age group, and including emerging market buyers – particularly single mothers. The latter place a high priority on secure homes in gated developments, and also prefer to have additional parking available for guests.  “These buyers tend to purchase in the price range from around R550 000 to R1 million. Other buyers, also in this age group, seek spacious homes and gardens for an indoor-outdoor family life, while we are also seeing a growing demand from those wishing to buy homes which can accommodate two generations – either with a separate cottage or attached flatlet.

Located just outside Howick and set on 225 hectares, the KwaWula residential estate comprises 52 house sites, each 2000sqm in size. Forty-six sites have been developed, with buyers mainly retirees or families who seek a safe country environment in which to raise their children. KwaWula is stocked with zebra, wildebeest, impala, blesbok and red hartebeest with naturally occurring reedbuck, warthog, porcupine and oribi.”

In the Hilton area the popular price range for homes is mainly between R1.2 million and R1.6 million, and in some instances up to just below the R2 million mark.

“These are mostly 30-45 year old young professionals and business people, as well as government employees. They prefer open-plan living areas with fairly large, level gardens with a country feel and if possible, scenic views. They also look for well-maintained homes with all the mod-cons as due to their busy lives they prefer not have to undertake repairs and upgrades,” adds Becker.

She says many of those selling their homes wish to downsize in order to save on maintenance costs, rates and electricity tariffs, as the cost of living and prevailing low interest rates have put pressure on those who rely on investment income.

A development which remains popular among such buyers is Garlington, with its gated security as well as guards on horseback. Situated in picturesque Hilton and set on 135 hectares of grasslands with scenic 180 degree views, facilities offered include a gym, heated pool, tennis courts and golf putting and chipping, while an excellent restaurant and several alternative health practices are available in the apartment block. Plots are priced from R350 000 while homes range from R2.7 million.

“This development is attracting buyers who are young, up and coming, career-oriented people who lead busy lives and want a secure location for their families. The freedom of open space, walks and a secure lifestyle provides peace of mind, while more mature purchasers enjoy the village atmosphere and an active way of life not found in retirement villages. A frail care facility caters for future needs without the restrictions of a single room – which is so often the alternative for senior citizens. Positioned close to Hilton Village, Garlington still has plots are still available for purchase as well as a few houses and apartments,” adds Becker.

It seems that the KwaZulu-Natal midlands is fast becoming the residential hot spot for those who wants to breakaway from the hustle and bustle of the city but still wants to be close enough to commute between their homes and offices.

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