Buyers return to simmering South Coast

After a quiet start to the new year, property sales activity along the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal has recently picked up sharply, with both local and upcountry buyers streaming in to snap up seaside properties at “bargain” prices.

In Amanzimtoti, says Deidre Ronnenberg, owner of the local Aida office, the biggest driver of this activity is news of Transnet’s R100bn plan to turn Durban’s former international airport site – just 11km from ‘Toti - into a new dug-out port.

“The anticipated increase in local property values as a result of this development, plus the fact that the demand for long-term rentals here is already increasing, is attracting a far greater number of investment buyers - and many of them are paying cash.”

Another factor driving sales all along the South Coast, she says, is the fact that real-term property price growth is expected to turn positive soon.

“The latest Absa figures show, for example, that although they were coming off a low base, home prices on the South Coast rose 7,5% yoy in the last quarter of 2011. And looking at this, many retirees and holiday-home buyers as well investors now believe that the local market has passed its bottom and are keen to secure property here before the upturn gains much more momentum.

What is more, Ronnenbergh says, budget-conscious KZN buyers are increasingly choosing to live permanently on the South Coast, where prices compare very favourably to the residential areas north of Durban. “In Amanzimtoti, for example, one can still buy a spacious two-bedroom beachfront flat with a garage for around R650 000.

“The town also has excellent schools and well-developed shopping and entertainment facilities to attract families, who are able to purchase good quality freehold homes here for between R700 000 and R1,3m. Luxury homes, some of them suitable for the establishment of B&Bs, are priced at around R3m.”

Further down the South Coast, says Aida area expert Glen Tweedie, there is a high demand at present for homes in retirement villages. “This stretch of coast is of course one of SA’s most popular retirement destinations, and it is estimated that there are some 400 000 senior citizens resident between Umkomaas and Port Edward.

“At the moment we are also seeing many people buying homes here that will accommodate their parents for now, and themselves in the future when they retire.”

The area is also attractive to buy-to-let investors, he says, because both holiday and long-term rental properties are always in demand. “Foreigners like to holiday here for several months during the European winter and particularly enjoy our international-standard golf courses. The mild climate year-round also means young families and seniors can enjoy affordable holidays here in the off-season, while the peak season of course sees crowds of upcountry visitors booking out every available unit.”

Prices for two-bedroom, two-bathroom homes in established retirement villages along the lower South Coast start from around R750 000, while two-bedroom apartments and townhouses suitable for letting or as holiday homes are available from around R600 000, and R700 000 with a seaview.

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