Kungwini becomes ‘dormitory’ town

Severe housing shortages in some of the towns that make up the Highveld coal belt are putting the residential property market in Kungwini (formerly Bronkhorstspruit) under increasing pressure as homebuyers stream to the centrally located town.
In fact around 80% of residents now work in other centres, says Koos Pretorius, owner of the RealNet Kungwini franchise. “And the influx of buyers is pushing up house prices and rentals, and attracting developers as well as investors, who earn good yields on rental properties”.
The reason for strong demand is three-fold, he says. "In the first place the town still has a rural atmosphere and attracts residential buyers from Pretoria, the East Rand and Johannesburg who often feel more secure here and also find the time taken to travel to their workplaces is shorter than if they were living in suburbs of these centres, even though the travelling distance is considerably further. For instance, commuters can reach Pretoria about 60km away in less than 30 minutes.
"Secondly, buyers rate the infrastructure here better than in some surrounding towns where problems with services such as water supply, are particularly onerous, and a third factor is the shortage of residential stock in nearby towns such as Kriel and Ogies."
Contractors at the Kusile power station are also taking up a large percentage of available housing. And with construction expected to continue for the next decade, Pretorius foresees continued housing demand from this sector.
Developers have started buying large stands of around 2500sqm in the older part of town and demolishing homes to make way for apartment blocks of between 30 and 60 units but development is not keeping pace with demand, he says. Most apartments are rented by workers at Kusile at rentals starting at around R6000 a month. Investors are very active in this market.
The most critical shortage currently is family homes in the R800 000 to R900 000 price range, because a large percentage of prospective buyers qualify for bonds in this range. However, most family homes in central Kungwini are marketed from R1m and up.
Pretorius notes that buyers with families are increasingly targeting homes in Masada on the outskirts of town, but that this has led, in turn, to stock shortages in Masada, where homes are priced between R750 000 and R1m. Riamarpark, further away from the town centre, is currently benefiting from the overflow. Although prices here are in the affordable R650 000 to R900 000 range, buyers still view it as a last resort if they do not find suitable homes closer to town.
Upmarket properties in Bester Ext 1 are also in demand but again, says Pretorius, there is a gap between what buyers can afford and asking prices. "Demand  is greatest in the R850 000 to R1,3m price range, but asking prices now range between R1,1m and R1,5m. Homes here are typically between 185sqm and 300sqm under roof on stands of around 1000sqm. Luxury homes at the R1,5m mark offer three bedrooms, a study, two bathrooms, double garaging, a swimming pool or spa and a lapa, but the demand for these is currently sluggish.”

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