RE/MAX expands into Swaziland

Broadening its horizons, RE/MAX of Southern Africa recently opened the doors of a new office in the Kingdom of Swaziland, making it the 87th country in the world to join RE/MAX and the ninth country in Southern Africa.  

Lyle Hutton, Broker/Owner of the new office, RE/MAX Real Estate Specialist, said that the reason for opening the office was to address the growing demand and opportunity for property investors in the country. RE/MAX Real Estate Specialist will operate in Ezulwini and the surrounding suburbs.

Swaziland is a landlocked country that is bordered to the north, south and west by the Republic of South Africa and to the east by Mozambique. It is regarded as a small country, measuring no more than 200km from north to south and about 130km from west to east. “The economy in Swaziland is somewhat diversified with agriculture, mining and forestry accounting for around 13% of the country’s GDP, manufacturing accounts for around 37% of its GDP and government services constitute approximately 50% of GDP,” says Hutton. “The Swazi economy has close ties to the South African economy, from which it receives around 90% of its imports and to which it sends approximately 70% on its exports.  Swaziland also trades with the United States with whom it has received trade preferences for apparel exports and the EU to whom they export sugar. These trade agreements have helped grow the country’s economic position and has brought a strong influx of foreign investment, which in turn has boosted the property market.”

He notes that with the link to the South African economy, the global recession had an impact on the property market in Swaziland, slowing down the number of sales transactions over the last three years. However, it also provided opportunity for investors, particularly in areas such as Ezulwini that is fast getting the reputation as the new and trendy tourism hub with many hotspots such as restaurants, hotels and casinos situated in the area. Hutton says that the word Ezulwini means Heaven. It's a beautiful part of Swaziland surrounded by mountains, natural hot springs, the Mlilwane game reserve and Mantegna waterfalls. Due to its geographical position between two major metro nodes in Swaziland, office and retail space is highly sought-after in Ezulwini, which is bound to drive up residential prices as more people move to the area to be closer to their place of work.

“So far this year there has been a marked improvement in the market, especially in Ezulwini, where the demand for retail, office and residential space has increased partially due to several new developments like the Corner Plaza, The Gables and the new MTN head offices,” says Hutton.  “There have also been a number of other developments in the region such as The Offices development by Swaki and the construction of the new American Embassy among other embassies and residential developments yet to be constructed.”

He notes that the demand for farm land in Swaziland has remained fairly constant. “In most areas we would say that it's a buyer’s market since there are a lot of sellers and property listings, compared to the number of actual buyers, despite lower interest rates,” says Hutton.

According to Hutton, Swaziland’s relatively low crime rate and more laid back lifestyle has attracted South African buyers who want to invest in holiday homes or second properties. “Many of the buyers from South Africa opt for properties within secure golf estates in areas such as Nkoyeni, which is about 45km away from Mbabane. Tubungu Estate has also become a preferred choice among buyers due to the lifestyle and security offering,” says Hutton.

He notes that property in Swaziland in the lower income category normally sell in the region of R500 000 to R850 000 mark, mid-level properties sell from R900 000 to R1,5 million, while the higher range properties sell for between R1.5 million and R5 million.

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says: “With the growing demand for property and the rate of development seen in the southern African market, particularly in countries such as Swaziland, it was the natural decision to open a RE/MAX office and offer a comprehensive service to property investors in that market. We believe that the RE/MAX brand will add considerable value to the Swaziland real estate market as well as to individual buyers and sellers.”

The new office aims to provide the excellent service that has become synonymous with the RE/MAX brand. “Our goal is to add value to the real estate market in Swaziland and assist property investors through the process of purchasing property in this region. We believe that the southern African property market is primed for growth and we aim to be at the forefront of this exciting time,” Hutton concludes.

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