New Bay West development expected to boost the market

The new R1.7 billion Bay West Shopping Mall, which is due to open its doors in March 2015, could have a massive impact on the property buying trends in Port Elizabeth’s western suburbs.

This is the opinion of Kobie Potgieter and Di Allan, Broker/Owners of the recently opened RE/MAX Independent Properties franchise in Brymore. The office is the third franchise in the RE/MAX Independent stable, with the other two offices based in Lorraine and Walmer. 
“Currently under construction, the new mall will compare to the likes of Canal Walk and Century City in Cape Town or Gateway in Durban. Once opened the mega shopping facility will drive traffic to the area and more people will want to purchase in the region to be closer to the shopping mecca. The Bay West Mall development also includes residential nodes, office parks, schools, a hospital, lifestyle centre and a hotel component and is envisaged to be completed within the next 15 years,” says Potgieter. “We could see this development driving demand for property in Port Elizabeth, particularly in the western suburbs. Due to the opening of the new Bay West Mall, the current cul-de-sac at the end of Walker Drive will be opened and lead onto the N2 highway. This will open a new corridor to the extreme western suburbs of Rowallan Park and Bridgemeade.”
Allan notes that due to the mix of suburbs in the region, the property market in area is very diverse and caters to buyers from all walks of life. “We have a range of suburbs from middle to upper class to elite, all within proximity to one another. The area caters for all tastes, lifestyles and budgets.  All of suburbs are within a few minutes’ drive from one another - traffic volumes are significantly less than those in bigger cities meaning everything is within a short driving distance,” says Allan. “Brymore and the western suburbs also have a multitude of schools such as Lorraine Primary School, Kabega Park Primary School, Sunridge Park Primary School, Saint Marks Junior and various high schools that are all only a short commute away from the homes in the area. There are also numerous other shopping nodes, which all encourage and draw buyers to the area.”
Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that proximity to amenities such as schools, shopping facilities and financial hubs all play a role in the demand for property within a specific area.
Potgieter points out that currently the highest demand in the area is for townhouses. She adds that property prices in the region start at around R450 000 for a small, two-bedroom home. Various suburbs in the area offer basic three-bedroom houses from approximately R750 000, while an average four-bedroom house in a good suburb will cost around R1.2 million. Although top-end, luxury townhouses and mansions can range from R3 million upwards, they are all still relatively affordable when compared to similar homes in Cape Town, Durban and Gauteng.
In the past few years there has been a negative sentiment in the property market and property prices have been depressed, but it seems the tide is definitely turning. According to Potgieter the property market has become more buoyant and is showing a slight upturn in sales. She adds that the housing market seems to be in its healthiest position since 2009. Buyers are more value-driven and well informed with the use of the internet and the various financial institution tools and apps provided these days.
“Another element that could have an impact on the market is the major shortage of stock. With demand outweighing supply, the current buyer's market could possibly turn into a seller's market, which will also lead to an increase in property prices. Position is always another draw card and buyers are willing to pay top prices due to the demand for prime locations,” says Allan.
She adds that while interest rates are expected to go up slightly during the course of this year, she doubts that this will have any major negative impact in the property market. Although the Reserve Bank will need to take action to strengthen the weakening rand, people will still continue to buy and sell homes to suit their needs and circumstances. 
“While external factors will play a role in the property market, it remains true that property is - and will always be - the biggest and best investment anyone can make. It has proven to outgrow all other investments within a five to 10 year period. I would urge young couples and other first-time buyers to get a foot in the property market as soon as possible through buying a smaller home in a good suburb,” Allan concludes.

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