Investors and university students' parents creating Cape property boom

Savvy property investors and parents of some of South Africa’s top university students are spearheading a mini property boom in one of Cape Town’s most established suburbs, in the wake of a shortage of affordable top-end accommodation in the city’s leafy Southern Suburbs.

Kenilworth, one of the city’s oldest established suburbs, has just taken the wraps off an investment opportunity in its midst, which offers New York-style living complete with uniformed concierge, lap pool and spacious apartments for under R1-million.

Figures show there are more than 6 000 of  the country’s best and brightest students  from Gauteng and kwaZulu-Natal who have chosen to study at UCT, the only African university in the global top 120 ranking and at UCT’s medical school, which is in the world’s top 50*.

Space in university residences is very limited and has forced students to seek off-campus accommodation that is affordable, secure and which offers long-term investment potential.

Property guru John Rabie, who has been an integral part of the Cape property market since the 1970s and the visionary behind sell-out successes like Westlake, Century City and Atlantic Beach, says  while property investors have always catered for the burgeoning student market, parents are finally catching up.

“Rather than spend thousands on student residence fees or rent ‘digs’, parents are seeing the sense in buying apartments for their children to live in.

“Once the child graduates and starts working, they take over the bond, or the apartment is let out to generate income or the family use it as a Cape Town holiday home or retirement pad. Either way, they are getting a tangible asset for their money, while the student has a safe, comfortable environment that teaches them independence.”

Rabie’s new private-label property company - called Signatura – has transformed Robyndale, one of the Southern Suburbs’ grand old dames into a modern apartment block, complete with uniformed concierge, high-tech security, a luxurious pool area and a spectacular penthouse.

Situated in Upper Kenilworth in a precinct that includes easy, access to UCT, as well as the newly renovated Maynard Mall, the Maynardville outdoor theatre, and the quaint eateries and shops of Chelsea Village, as well as Cavendish Square, Newlands cricket and rugby stadiums, the Sports Science Institute and the Baxter Theatre.

“Robyndale is a landmark block with spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, ample off-site parking and garages, an upgraded lift and wonderful views from the mountain to the sea. Kenilworth is a thriving suburb with proximity to both the city as well as the beaches at Muizenberg. Its central position has made it one of the most desirable areas in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs,” says Rabie.

Units start at R900 000 (including VAT), with an average refurbished one bed (65m²) with parking starting at R1 050 000, a two bed (85m²) at R1 375 000, and a three bed with a garage and parking bay at R1 595 000.

“There is no more land for new developments in Kenilworth and the value an older block offers is significantly higher than any new building. We believe the return on investing in a block like Robyndale could be around 7%. And buying directly from Signatura, which is the developer, means no transfer duty is payable.”

Signatura’s ground-breaking model for Robyndale offers buyers the option to buy apartments “as is” or refurbished units with contemporary kitchens and bathrooms.

“This gives owners the freedom to choose what suits their pockets and tastes. The building is in immaculate condition, and we can take the hassle out of co-ordinating builders or leave buyers to do their own thing.”

He says Signatura has polished up an “old treasure” in Robyndale and offering it at excellent value.

“We are spending millions to upgrade security, modernise some key architectural features with the guidance of renowned architect Juan Bernicchi and putting in a lap pool with a gazebo, set in an indigenously landscaped garden.

“Like the best blocks in Manhattan and London, we will have a concierge service on duty on the fully refurbished porte cochere to help residents with visitors, deliveries and so on. The foyer is a warm and inviting space, with artwork to make you feel like you’re at home.”
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