Edgemead edges up in buyer popularity

Drawn by the town’s neighbourly warmth, its almost non-existent violent crime and s central proximity to Cape Town it appears there is no shortage of buyers for Edgemead homes.

But, says Ryan Simpson of Cameo Estates, they are no longer prepared to over-pay for the privilege of living in the garden suburb and are focused strongly on “best value for money.”

Reporting a massive increase in both show house numbers and visitor attendance in recent weeks, Simpson, whose company is a member of the NRN / TEAM International Homes referral group, says there is steady buyer interest in the area. Stock levels are healthy and the number of weekend show houses hit a record high of 20 per house recently, after coming off a regular zero base. However, this is being tempered with caution stemming from the interest rate increases since June this year that have pushed the mortgage interest rate cost of buying a home up by two percentage points.

According to Simpson, the cut-off point between activity and sluggishness in the market is R1 million – anything under that figure is still selling relatively quickly and homes in the R850 000 to R900 000 are moving within a week or two. The sticking point is the upper end of the market, he notes, although top prices are still being achieved from time to time as evidenced by their recent sale of a house that, despite needing renovation, changed hands for R1,44 million.

Simpson, however, emphasises that sellers need to be aware of the shift in the market. “It’s now a buyers’ market,” he says, adding that lower-than-asking-price offers have become the order of the day. “Sales are happening but on buyers’ terms and at their prices.”

Launched in 1972 as a non-profit project by Garden Cities to provide basic, affordable housing to first-time home owners, Edgemead has blossomed owing in part to the stringent controls that were placed in title deeds. These included no overhead telephone or electricity wires; trees were not allowed to be removed without permission; plans had to be drafted by qualified architects and approved by Garden Cities; and advertising signs were strictly controlled. Even the street layout took into account the need for traffic safety, separation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and the provision of adequate open spaces.

Today it is a close, popular community of house-proud residents watched over by a strong residents’ association, says Simpson. “Women can still walk or jog alone and kids play freely in the streets. Edgemead offers an old-fashioned way of life that is now very difficult to find in South Africa. What adds to its appeal is that access to the village is limited so there is very little in the way of loitering – people who are there have a reason to be there. It’s not a thoroughfare.”

As a result of pressure on affordability, the suburb’s rental market is booming and stock levels are rock bottom. “The reason is that rentals are less expensive than bond installments. Investors who are welcoming the fact that rental values are moving up again finally after dipping during the buying boom of the last couple of years. Even though the increase in this sector is not in proportion to the value of the properties, we’re seeing top rentals being paid. For example, two bedroom flats are fetching R3 500 a month while a family-sized house can command as much as R 7 500 per month.”

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