Developments attract 40% of Upper Highway purchasers

Demand for secure, communal living in the Upper Highway area is on the rise according to a recent survey by the Hillcrest and Kloof branches of Acutts Estate Agents.

Local franchisee Dave Jones reports a record 40 percent of purchasers are now buying into developments, particularly those offering freehold ownership and where units are priced at below R1 million.

And while data from real estate statistics company Prop Data has shown that sales volumes in the Upper Highway area have dropped from780 properties sold during the financial year ending February 28 2005 to the current rate of 480 units for the year ending February 28 2006, the Upper Highway area, and particularly Hillcrest, is likely to remain a growth hot spot for the foreseeable future, says Jones.

This view is also supported by Alena Wilkens, manager of Sothebys Hillcrest and Fay Morgan of Maxprop Hillcrest, who both agree that demand is largely lifestyle driven with particular emphasis on the quest for security living.

Anticipating that property price growth will remain at its current level of 15 percent per annum for the next three years, Jones says the Upper Highway market still offers value for money when compared with Durban North and Umhlanga. Current price benchmarks for the Upper Highway, which includes Kloof, Hillcrest and Waterfall, are around R750 000 for an entry level home, with the most active market being between this price and R1,1 million.

Average prices in the area’s five markets are R1, million for a house in Hillcrest, while in Kloof, a middle of the road house carries a price tag of around R1,7 million. Townhouses in both of these areas average around R1,2 million while in Waterfall, buyers can expect to pay around R850 000 for either a house or townhouse. Prime property on the Kloof Golf Course or in the popular Meadow Lane area averages around R2,5 million, he says.

Long regarded as a desirable residential destination because of its climate, surroundings and high quality of its schools, the Upper Highway has recently seen a surge in the number of people relocating from the Bluff, Malvern, Queensburgh and Umhlanga. Jones says this is mainly in response to the availability of new, transfer duty-free developments that offer secure living within a country setting.

Wilkins says purchasing impetus also comes from early buyers in still-to-be- completed developments acquiring ownership at affordable prices. Once developments are fully completed in terms of landscaping, she says, prices often increase substantially.

In the past two years, more than 2 000 new units have been built in Hillcrest alone, which has alleviated some of the intense and unwavering demand for homes in the area, he adds. However, the pace of building has now slowed to around 600 units per annum, owing to a dearth of suitable vacant land and the strain being experienced by the existing infrastructure, which has seen Inanda and old Main Roads become increasingly congested.
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