Developers urged to “be more imaginative”

Under pressure from a softer property market, developers are adjusting their offerings in tune with consumer demands - but need to be more imaginative.

Homenet chairman Robert Ketjen says he has detected a much more “client-centric” approach by developers recently and that the result is a better, more keenly priced package to attract buyers in the face of tighter credit conditions and greater competition.

“Good developers have always been sensitive to market needs of course. Recently, however, they appear to be giving even more attention to the factors that make up a successful offering to an increasingly demanding buying public.”

Ketjen says that in some instances developers have branched into estate agency themselves and that this has helped them mould their products to buyers’ needs.

“Now, though, even non-linked developers are working with estate agencies to come up with correctly conceived and executed projects. This manifests in numerous aspects of the property offered and I believe buyers are now getting greater value for money.

“For example there appears to be no scrimping on the quality of fittings and finishes. There is also renewed focus on avoiding wasted space, and floor plans have become more integrated in terms of movement flows within a given home, with multi-use frequently coming to the fore.”

However, Ketjen says, even more could actually be done in this respect. “For example garages could have accessible sides giving way to, say, a patio or pool/braai deck, thus creating a large entertainment area.

“Also, although they have been around in South Africa since the 70s, more use should be made of loft areas, which are found in abundance in Europe for example, or perhaps even of basement areas which are common in American homes.

“Play, work, study and storage areas in even moderately priced homes should also be incorporated where space and budgets allow. And while garages are important to South Africans, to protect vehicles and provide workshop space, they will perhaps come to see this as ‘wasted’ space better utilised for living.”
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