Over the past decade or more estate living has become a highly desirable lifestyle choice for many home buyers, coupled with sound long term investment potential. Situated within scenic, secure environments, they provide the added benefit of a low-maintenance, lock-up-and-go lifestyle with recreational and other facilities on site - ideal for both local and international buyers, some of whom spend several months of the year in South Africa.
Comments Dr Andrew Golding, CE of the Pam Golding Property (PGP) group: "According to the recently established Association of Residential Communities (ARC), in South Africa today there are some 1500 residential estates – of which 300 are golf estates. There are also approximately 150 000 sectional title developments representing approximately R600 billion in assets under management and income of R8 billion a year (ie total amount paid in levies by home owners) from approximately 400 000 homes in estates."
Also as per information provided by ARC, the breakdown in terms of location of gated communities is 60 percent Gauteng, 20 percent Cape, 10 percent North West province, five percent KwaZulu-Natal and five percent – other regions.
PGP says the success of any development depends on good positioning in terms of locality and of understanding and satisfying the constantly evolving needs of the target market and its preferred lifestyle. In these times of sophisticated and discerning consumers, a hit and miss approach to development is bound to fail.  The appeal of these lifestyle estates is based on the universal criteria for successful community living, top of which is the need for safety and security. Coupled with this is the convenience factor, with access to shopping, banking, medical and other amenities of importance.
Says Dr Golding: "Security is a fundamental prerequisite in almost all purchasing decisions but thereafter the various competitive added-value components of estates start to come to the fore. It is difficult to generalise and many estates cater for specialised target markets while others may offer an appeal to many sectors of the market. Currently the most popular are golf estates, followed by eco-estates, the latter which is a newer genre and seems to be increasingly popular. Affordability is another factor to be considered.
"It is commonly believed that between 2000 and 2007, growth in the residential estate sector of the property market was somewhere between 25-40 percent, in line with the then buoyant residential market; and from 2007 to date some 10-15 percent, although this is a general figure which masks some estates which performed exceptionally well and others which performed more moderately.
"Price-wise the national average house price in South Africa is in the order of R600 000 – R800 000, while golf estates have an average price which is significantly higher; generally heading towards more than double the national average. Regionally KZN has a large number of high priced golf estates and consequently the golf estate house price average is in the region of R8 million. In Gauteng, with a greater number of estates traversing a broader cross-section of the market, the average is approximately R5 million, and similarly the Cape average for golf estates is approximately R7 million." Dr Golding says interestingly, a surprisingly low number of residents on golf estates are golfers - somewhere in the order of 40 percent of residents
At one of South Africa's most successful golf estates, Fancourt Golf & Country Estate on the Garden Route, PGP is currently marketing a number of purchase options which include stands ranging in size from approximately 960-4960sqm and priced between R3.6 million and R4.4 million, as well as existing homes priced from R4.8-R16 million. 
Issued by Gaye de Villiers
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