Students who will attend the University of Stellenbosch next year should start looking for accommodation no later than October if they want to secure good quality apartments.
This advice comes from Shawn Pieterse of the local RealNet property franchise, who says that owners of student flats and apartments usually decide at the end of September whether to sell or whether to find tenants for the next year.
"We usually experience a rush of enquiries for student housing during October and November and early birds have first choice since stock becomes available towards the end of September. The market quietens down in December but picks up again in January and February when there is a scramble for available stock," he says.
Most landlords also prefer to tie up rental contracts during November at the latest, since contracts usually run from December 1 to the end of November the following year.
Prices for apartments start at around R800 000 for two-bedroom units of about 60sqm but, says Pieterse, units in this price range are situated off the Campus Green Route (security patrolled route). Students who prefer to rent can expect rentals of around R5500 a month for these units.
Closer to campus, apartments of about 55sqm offering two bedrooms and one parking spot sell at prices from about R1,25m while similar units on campus or on the Green Route sell at prices from R1,8m. Tenants can expect to pay monthly rentals from about R8500.
Top apartments in upmarket parts of town, such as in Merriman Street, Dorpstraat and Pleinstraat, sell at prices between R1,8m and R2,8m (see picture). Two-bedroom units in this price range are usually more spacious, typically between 80 and 100sqm, and offer luxury finishes. Monthly rentals range between R8500 and R13 000.
Pieterse says the most popular rental units fall in the R6500 to R7000 a month rental range and that students often share accommodation, which effectively halves their monthly accommodation costs. "However," he adds, "landlords prefer to have a rental contract with a single tenant and tenants then usually find someone to share the apartment and costs."
With a student body of around 28 000 students and limited residences on campus, student units in Stellenbosch remain a sound investment, be it for parents who buy apartments for use by their children, or landlords who buy rental units, he says.
The shortage of student accommodation has recently been alleviated by investors building private residences near campus. Developers typically buy adjoining stands and build small bachelor units of between 17 and 19sqm with communal kitchens and lounges. Rentals range between R3000 and R4000 a month and units are typically taken up by first-year students. Older students often prefer larger units in quieter surroundings.
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