Cash buyers are having a field day in Amanzimtoti on the popular KZN South Coast.
"There are bargains galore in all property classes and price ranges but buyers are currently really targeting beachfront apartments," says John Ronnenbergh, owner of the local Aida franchise.
"And there is plenty of stock to choose from, at prices which have been significantly lowered by sellers who are aware of the difficulties buyers are having now in getting home loans and keen to rather attract cash offers."
Prices of bachelor apartments with full sea views now start at prices as low as R380 000, and one-bedroom apartments in high-rise blocks on the beachfront are selling for R550 000 and less.
"This is excellent value - and far below prices achieved a year ago," says Ronnenbergh. "Units in this range typically have 180-degree views of the ocean, with no roads separating them from the beach."
Larger two-bedroom apartments in prestigious blocks such as Far Horizon and Drift Sands are now being offered at prices ranging from R650 000 to around R700 000, which represent savings of between R60 000 and R200 000 when compared to prices achieved a year ago, he says.
Meanwhile, there are houses on the market which also represent good buying opportunities. Ronnenbergh says luxury homes that would not be out of place in top suburbs in Gauteng and Cape Town are selling for as little as R1,5m. "These units typically have three bedrooms, pools and quality finishes."
Arguably the best buy at the moment is a unit in a share block development but, says Ronnenbergh, the caveat is that only one bank is willing to finance these units - and then only with a personal loan for two-thirds of the purchase price. "For cash buyers or buyers with sufficient funds to cover the large deposit, however, this is the buy of a lifetime. Prices for bachelor units start at around R350 000 while large three-bedroom units sell at about R800 000."
Ronnenbergh, who spent two decades in the UK property industry before coming to SA, adds that the current credit crisis is having a significant impact on the local market. "As a relative newcomer to the SA property industry, I find it remarkable that local insurance companies are not active in the market like their UK counterparts.
"A large proportion of UK homes are financed by buyers taking out an endowment policy to the value of the purchase price and paying monthly premiums while the property is registered in the name of the insurance company. On maturation of the policy the property is registered in the name of the buyer, who also receives any profits made during the term of the policy. A similar scheme here could open up the local market to a host of new entrants."
Issued by Aida National Franchises