DROP GARAGES AND MAKE HOMES MORE AFFORDABLE

South Africans are seemingly fixated on lock-up garages, a tendency which

boosts home purchase costs, absorbs land unnecessarily and in many cases

actually diminishes lifestyle.

That's the somewhat controversial view of Gerhard Kotzé, CEO of the ERA

property group.

"Traditionally, South African homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms

also had a double garage. Lately, however, we have started seeing

two-bedroom, two-bathroom homes and even two-bed, one bath homes with

garages.

"But it's time buyers stopped to think that a double garage of say, 50sqm,

costing around R3000/sqm to build, will add R150 000 to the purchase price

of their home - as opposed to a carport that does the same job of protecting

their vehicles that will cost about 10 to 15 percent of that amount."

What is more, says Kotzé, in new homes marketed as having a total floor area

of, say, 110sqm, it does not make sense in lifestyle terms that almost half

should be devoted to garage space. "And recent designs I have come across

add insult to injury by positioning the garage on the prime north-facing

aspect of the property, with the actual living areas poorly positioned in

terms of both aspect and natural available light - apparently in deference

to the garages.

"Possibly at the heart of the problem is consumer belief that garaging

reflects affluence, even at the cost of lifestyle. The other underlying

problem of course is security, and with motor vehicles frequently costing

almost as much as property itself these days, there is clearly an imperative

to protect that asset - although modern alarm systems, carport designs and

security complexes can easily address that."

He points out that the cost of servicing R150 000 worth of home loan at

today's interest rates is some R1650 a month - "with after-tax money that

could be far better utilised by the homeowner".

From a developers' standpoint also, says Kotzé, there has to be an advantage

in marketing homes without garages but more living space. "It's certainly

food for thought as homes become increasingly less affordable to

first-timers."

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