Enchanting KZN Midlands region attracting a broader cross section of buyers

Renowned for its spectacular scenery with rolling fields of green, picturesque farms and quaint villages as well as its top private schools and tranquil ambience, the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Midlands and Pietermaritzburg areas have high appeal for home buyers of all ages, says Barbara Becker, area principal for Pam Golding Properties in the KZN Midlands region.

Incorporating towns such as Howick, Nottingham Road, Balgowan, Dargle, Rosetta, Hilton and Lidgetton, among others, the KZN Midlands is home to the popular Midlands Meander tourist attraction, with its diversity of arts and crafts, restaurants, adventure sports, wildlife conservation, historic and other pursuits, as well as the impressive Howick Falls. The Midlands even has its own wine estates, such as Abingdon Wine Estate, Kleinbosch Wine Estate and Highgate Wine Estate.

“People who have retired from a farming life love the KZN Midlands, and many Pietermaritzburg retirees have relocated to retirement villages in Howick as they enjoy the country atmosphere and quality facilities available, which include a private hospital. We are marketing sectional title homes in three retirement villages in Howick – Amber Field, Amber Glen and Amber Valley. These range from 95 to 269 square metre homes with two or three bedrooms, two bathrooms and garaging – some with study and guest suite, with asking prices mainly between R880 000 and R3.3 million.

“One needs to bear in mind that prices in the three Ambers differ due to availability of facilities, the different ages of the villages, improvements and extras offered by the units and their position in the village - and in addition, prices are often determined by the sellers. Each Amber has a frail care unit, hair dressing salon and library, while Amber Glen has an indoor, heated swimming pool, dam for fishing and a chapel, and Amber Valley has a community centre offering meals, function rooms for hire, snooker room, chapel, coffee shop, pub, two indoor heated swimming pools, tennis courts, bowling green and a number of dams for fishing,” says Becker.

Pam Golding Properties also markets homes in Eagle Ridge Estate, and although this is not a registered retirement village, this sectional title development is also favoured by retirees. Any age group may purchase homes in the complex, which includes a well appointed club house, and prices of units range from R875 000 to R1.6 million for 114-120 square metre homes, each with two bedrooms and in various configurations.

Says Becker: “Increasingly we are finding strong interest for homes among young families, as all our schools, both private and public are a huge draw card, with well respected and prestigious schools in Pietermaritzburg, Hilton, Howick and Nottingham Road. Top private schools in the area include Hilton College, Michaelhouse, St Anne’s Diocesan College, Clifton Preparatory School, Treverton Preparatory School,Cowan House, Howick High School, Howick Preparatory School and Oasis, while public schools include Maritzburg College, Pietermaritzburg Girls High School, Merchiston Preparatory School, Carter High School, Scottsville Primary School and Athlone Primary School. The sizeable Midlands Mall in Pietermaritzburg is also easily accessible.”

She says a younger generation of home buyers are also moving into the Midlands, including those in their thirties. “In Pietermaritzburg we find mainly 35 to 50 year old buyers in the price bracket from R1.2 million to R1.9 million, with a slightly older purchaser buying in the same price range in Hilton. In Howick buyers are mostly in the R800 000 to R1.1 million price range and mainly in the 50-plus age group, while in Nottingham Road home buyers are mainly families with children attending schools in the Midlands, who are acquiring homes priced from approximately R1.95 million upwards. The most popular homes are immaculate ‘move in and live’ properties, and large gardens don’t appear to be as popular as before, most likely as people are seeking convenience as they lead busy lifestyles. We are also finding that security is high on buyers’ priority list.”

Gated estates in the Nottingham Road area are popular among permanent residents and those looking for a second home in the Midlands, Garlington and Victoria Country Club Estate are sought after developments in the Pietermaritzburg and Hilton areas, while Intaba Ridge Private Game Estate is increasingly popular for the lifestyle it offers. Prices of homes in these developments range from around R1.8 million to R6.9 million.

Commenting on the housing market in general in the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands areas, Becker says sound buying opportunities are available, offering good value for money. “We have had some ‘good buys’ it the upper price range and in prestigious areas. A recent sale of an 800 square metre home in Wembley for R2.5 million is an example, as this is a home with five bedrooms, four of which are very spacious. For investors seeking a property for resale in the shorter term properties priced under R1.5 million and near schools are recommended.  We are seeing a gradual return of buy to let investors, mainly for flats in the R500 000 price range, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, garage or carport plus an extra parking bay,” she adds.

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