Durban North now an “affordable” market

In an absolute irony of today’s property market, Durban North, the former jewel of KZN’s northern coastal suburbs having been shaded by Umhlanga in recent years, is being classified and pursued by buyers as the north coast’s more affordable market. This, with an entry market of R1,6 to R1,7m for a single dwelling and R1,2 to R1,3m for a townhouse.

Reason behind the anomaly is that the traditional upgrading trend from the prestigious suburb into adjoining La Lucia, Umhlanga and Mount Edgecombe’s highly desirable gated estates has swamped prices in those communities beyond the financial reach of even Durban North’s well-heeled property owners.

Focussing on the trend this week Grant Gavin broker owner of RE/MAX Panache, said the slowdown in the relocation was also being challenged by Durban North’s sheer value for money when measured against neighbouring high security gated estates. “Price is a key issue as buyers in Durban North can purchase about 40 percent cheaper than in those gated communities, but equally important is that Durban North homes offer larger accommodation and plot sizes when compared on a rand-for-rand basis to the gated estates. Peace of mind in the form of security certainly comes at a premium on the gated estates.”

Durban North’s value for money has also encouraged some of its earlier migratory losses to retrace their footprints. Gavin, whose agency enjoyed a 40 percent area market share in gross rand sales in May, says that returnee’s account for quite a percentage of recent sales as well as new buyers intending to commute to either Durban CBD or Umhlanga’s mushrooming commercial node. Relocation to the suburb has also been motivated by the upgrading of the Broadway precinct.

Sales activity and ongoing price rises in Durban North supports Gavin’s view of its continued unquestionable popularity. In the last two years average selling prices have surged by 19 percent across all property types, 20 percent in conventional homes and a whopping 36 percent rise in sectional title homes. Current average selling price for conventional homes in Durban north, as measured by PropValues for the first five months of this year, is R1 795 146 for conventional homes and R1 267 429 for sectional title units.

Oddly enough, while total unit sales have dipped markedly the average days of listing to selling has only fallen by seven days from 35 days two years ago to a current 42 days providing further evidence of its recognition.

Gavin believes even this number of listing days could be improved if sellers priced in direct response to current market values and opted for sole mandates when placing their homes on the market rather than open listings, which he points out actually runs counter to sellers’ interests.

With some 700 properties currently listed in Durban North and its adjoining suburbs Gavin says those open mandate homes, because of their sheer volume, are given little attention or quickly forgotten by agents in terms of direct marketing.

“We understand sellers motivation for open mandates, but the market reality is that after a brief effort these homes are overlooked because no single agency is controlling their marketing. The situation also results in an added hassle factor for sellers in dealing with 200 area agents as opposed to a single who controls the marketing on the seller’s behalf.

The best option for sellers, Gavin advises, is to hand pick a qualified, experienced agent and award a sole mandate for a reasonable period of time (in this market more than three months) with the option that it is opened up to other agencies if not sold within a certain period of time.

He points out that most agencies in North Durban co-operate well with each other and operate in the best interests of the seller, often mini-listing their sole mandate properties to allow each other agencies full access to the mandate. The seller however still has the comfort of knowing the marketing of his property is controlled by one agent.
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