Despite the current lack of affordability in the housing market, the northern KZN town of Empangeni is gearing up now to meet the pent-up demand from lower and middle-income homebuyers once interest rates start to drop again.
It has for example recently allocated large tracts of agricultural land for servicing and new residential use to pique the interest of developers who correctly perceive a need for affordable housing stock.
“The emerging market is definitely making its presence felt here, even though there is a lack of affordability at this time,” says Lionel Foster, principal of leading local agency Homenet Fosprops.
“Many new buyers are moving here to take advantage of the burgeoning business opportunities in the area and a number of provincial government departments have also moved to Empangeni.”
He says most purchases currently are of sectional title units in the R400 000 to R700 000 price range. The town’s rental market is also doing particularly well at the moment with typical rentals being between R2500 and R3 000.
Primarily a trading and farming town, Empangeni’s commercial, distribution and wholesale sectors are thriving. A new commercial development has been planned for the centre of town and the eastern retail sector is due to be extended to include a bigger taxi rank and additional trading and commercial nodes.
More good news is the recent announcement by Richards Bay Minerals that it is to inject capital amounting to roughly R1bn into an extension project that will undoubtedly have positive spin-offs for Empangeni.
“So although actual development of the recently allocated land will probably only get under way once the economic climate improves, there will be significant pent-up demand by then. And the fact that the initial steps have been taken towards creating more housing stock in the area is also being read as a positive indicator for the local market,” says Foster.
“Indeed, while buying power may be under pressure now, the Empangeni market looks set to just keep on growing.”