While there is still a lot of property interest on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, with huge developments planned for the near future, the market has been catching its breath for the past few months ahead of an anticipated "onslaught" of holidaymakers in April.
However, says Denise Bowditch, manager of leading local agency Homenet Ballito, the huge market peaks and troughs that are typical for popular holiday destinations are levelling out in Ballito as it gains more and more permanent residents.
"Ballito offers a lifestyle most people envy and upcountry buyers cannot help but compare value for money, even though the price one pays for a sea view and / or a coastal lifestyle is usually quite high.
"The standard of homes has also improved tremendously, and those who took the initiative to buy old and renovate have helped to give Ballito a facelift. And although there is virtually no open ground left in Ballito, there is still plenty further north. Gated communities like Brettenwood, Dunkirk, Simbithi and Sheffield Beach Estate still have stands with excellent sea views at market-related prices."
And now that Ballito has schools and colleges such as Crawford and Seaforth close by, Bowditch notes, there is another motivation for those who own holiday homes in the town to relocate permanently. There are also plans afoot for Umhlali Primary, the local government school, to be expanded to incorporate a high school and this should be completed by mid-2007.
In line with the trend towards more permanent residency, the strongest housing demand in Ballito currently is for traditional freehold houses.
"Although the town has an abundance of cluster homes in gated villages, and although security is a big issue, the first choice remains freestanding houses," says Bowditch.
"The most popular price range at the moment is from R1-million to about R2,5-million, with the entry-level for houses being around R1,2-million.
Prices have stabilised, and although there is and will be growth, it will definitely be at a slower rate than during 2003, 2004 and 2005."
Meanwhile, the anticipated construction of the King Shaka Tradeport is creating strong demand for commercial and industrial land in the vicinity, and stimulating interest in residential developments.
"Indeed, everywhere you look on the Dolphin Coast there is building in progress - most of which was sold off plan up to 18 months ago - and there is some concern about the infrastructure. So far, however, it is holding up reasonably well, and the congestion due to the high volumes of traffic during peak periods has been alleviated by the traffic circle at the entrance to Ballito.
"As in most centres, there is still not enough parking during the Christmas / New Year week, but the completion of the area's latest shopping centre, Ballito Junction, will go a long way to help sort out that problem," says Bowditch.
Phase 1 of Ballito Junction is now complete, with Pick 'n Pay as its anchor store and numerous satellite shops already occupied. Phase 2 is expected to open later this year, by which time an estimated R320-million will have gone into the centre - the convenience of which will no doubt be another attraction for permanent residents."