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Leading luxury real estate group selling homes like hot-cakes

In a year when the real estate market has been helped by low and stable interest rates, but hampered by higher living costs, low economic growth and falling consumer confidence, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty has kept up a cracking pace to increase unit sales by 20% in the 12 months to end-November.
 
“The upturn in the market has continued to gather steam this year, especially at the upper end where there is now a growing shortage of stock, and we have also seen our average sale price increase by 2,5% to R2,9m,” says group chairman Lew Geffen. 
 
“Collectively, the group’s agents around the country increased turnover year-on-year by 31%, and several offices have experienced a series of record trading months.”
 
These results are obviously very pleasing, he says, as they confirm the group’s ability to perform successfully for its clients, even in tough markets. “But most importantly, they attest to the value of the accumulated experience and expertise resident in our hand-picked pool of agents, and of our specialised training systems.”
 
Certainly, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty remains the agency of choice for many of the country’s wealthiest property owners and buyers, and sales in the past 12 months have included at least 47 “big ticket” properties that changed hands for more than R10m.
 
“And – barring any untoward events during the run-up to the General Election – the market is set for another good year in 2014,” says Geffen, who expects home prices across the board to rise by 8% to 10%.
 
“In fact, I think we are heading for the best of all market situations next year,” he says. “This is a ‘controlled boom’ in which demand definitely exceeds supply, sales are brisk and prices rise, but buyers are prevented from overpaying  and pushing up values too fast by bank caution when it comes to valuing properties for home loan purposes.
 
“In addition, we are expecting developers return to the middle-income and upper-income market sectors in strength as stock shortages grow, and this will also help to contain price increases.”
 
Consequently, he expects continued strong demand for high-end properties as existing homeowners take the opportunity to upgrade while interest rates remain low, especially in the most aspirational areas of major cities, such as the Atlantic Seaboard and Southern Suburbs in Cape Town and Hyde Park, Sandown and Morningside close to the Sandton CBD.
 
“Other ‘hotspots’ at the moment are Stellenbosch and Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands andUmhlanga in KwaZulu-Natal, and we are also expecting to see a substantial increase during 2014 in second-home purchasing for leisure or investment purposes, which will boost the market in certain other areas.
 
“Indeed, the Plettenberg Bay market is already enjoying a strong revival in holiday-home purchasing which has boosted average selling prices back up close to 2008 levels, and we foresee this trend spreading in the course of 2014 to other sought-after resort areas such as Hermanus, Knysna, Wilderness, the Cape West Coast and the KwaZulu-Natal coast north of Ballito.”


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