In a softer property market cluster properties stand out as arguably the most solid choice for buyers right now.
Gerhard Kotzé, CEO of the ERA South Africa property group, notes that there is no separation of statistics on residential property sales to support the view that clusters are the strongest selling niche in the property market.
"However, anecdotal evidence from our agents suggests that demand and values in this niche are indeed the most robust at the moment.
"The reasons for this are fairly easy to identify. Probably top of mind is security coupled with affordability and lock-up-and-leave convenience."
He adds that clusters readily meet the needs of different demographic sectors from the lower end of the market across the spectrum to the ultra luxurious. Accordingly, this category of property, which initially catered for the lower end of the market, has become more universally popular.
Further he says that other reasons driving this sector have to do with the trend towards greater densification by municipalities to facilitate services and the scarcity of affordable development land, which obliges developers to maximise available space. Also, ownership is via freehold, which is arguably less restrictive than sectional title.
"A health warning however is that some newer cluster home developments are not always of good quality and buyers should be selective in their choice of developer and development.
"Check the financial soundness of the cluster developer, particularly if buying
off-plan, and do your homework on future infrastructure plans for the area you are keen on - new highways or the potential for land invasion and low cost housing development can impact on values.
"Other aspects are levies, which are generally quite moderate in cluster developments, and the other conventional buying 'hot buttons' such as access to amenities. "
Lastly he adds: "I feel it's important to buy into a community with which you identify. Cluster living, by definition, involves concentrating a greater number of people in a given area and friction can occur where your fellow residents are not in keeping with your desired lifestyle."