Durbanville residential property on a roll

In the last three months almost every estate agency in Durbanville has experienced a remarkable upswing in buyer interest and in sales, says Louis Schoeman, the Rawson Property Group’s franchisee for the area, which has around 25,000 homes altogether.

Schoeman said recently that the Rawson franchise, which he bought in March of last year, has seen an increase of almost 100% in sales – from around R4 million per month to R8 million or more – and Schoeman sees no signs of this upswing slowing down.

“This year,” he said, “we have been getting anything from 30 to 40 couples visiting our show houses, many of whom may become potential clients down the line. Recently, two out of our eight agents hosted 13 separate viewings each in just one week.”

The demand, said Schoeman, is strongest in the R1 million to R2, 5 million brackets but for every ten buyers here there has also been one in the R2, 5 million to R4 million brackets. Even the ultra-expensive, luxurious homes priced up to R25 million have been attracting interest. Schoeman has, in recent months, sold two homes priced above R4 million.

“In all price categories we find that most of the buyers are actually from Durbanville. They are either upgrading or downscaling but the one thing they have in common is that they do not want to leave the area. The plain truth is that once people have lived here for a few months they are always reluctant to leave.”

When buyers come from other areas, especially from the Cape Peninsula and Southern Suburbs they are, says Schoeman, impressed by the good weather and above all by the reasonable prices.

“The sort of well built, three or four bedroom home that we sell in Durbanville for R3 million would usually carry a price tag of anything from R5 million to R8 million in Rondebosch, Tokai or Constantia. Our prices definitely make Durbanville very attractive, especially to mobile young people and those who are now down-scaling. The good news is that, although demand has intensified in the recent months, our prices are still pitched at the low levels which have prevailed ever since 2008. It seems likely to me that this will change but I do not foresee price increases exceeding 5 or 6% in 2013.”

Raising bond finance in Durbanville, said Schoeman, has not been the big problem it is elsewhere because most local buyers are moderately affluent and can usually manage substantial deposits. What is more, applicants for bonds priced below R1, 5 million are being treated sympathetically by the banks and quite often are given a 100% bond.

On the rental front, said Schoeman, there is only one problem: the lack of new development. This has caused a dire shortage of stock and, as rezoning applications often encounter difficulties, this situation is bound to continue.

“Every rented property in the middle and lower price categories which we advertise is taken up within one week and the rents are almost double those of five years ago. Even the smallest townhouse or apartment will command a rent of R4,000 plus per month and a typical three or four bedroom home could easily cost the tenant R13,000 to R15,000 per month.”

At the moment Rawson Properties Durbanville employs eight agents – but Schoeman believes the figure could rise to 20 as he continues his run of successes and expands into certain precincts in which his agency has minimal representation at the moment.

“As I see it, within the next year we will be forced to establish satellite offices in Durbanville’s outlying areas and these will probably be in local retail centres.”

“Every month,” he said, “it becomes clearer that what we can offer here is unique. Durbanville is now a thriving modern town but it has somehow retained its attractive country village atmosphere. The area still has a strong rural flavour and the average resident with transport can be on walking, mountain bike or riding trails amongst vineyards, orchards and farmlands within a five or ten minute car ride journey from his home. There are also no less than seven major wine estates on our urban boundary, many with top level restaurants. Then, to cap it all we have good schools, medical facilities, a low crime rate and attractive retail venues.”

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