Home theatres, gyms, wraparound views, infinity pools, floating gardens and massage areas feature in some of Cape Town’s trophy homes, perched on the edge of the Atlantic Seaboard.
Included in this coterie of exclusive homes are those in South Africa’s wealthiest street: Nettleton Road in Clifton, where two properties are currently on the market for over R100 million each (both on Seeff’s books).
The foreign seller of one of them has attached a $15 million price tag for the property, which includes a home theatre, an entertainment area, a gym, wraparound views of the 12 Apostles and the Atlantic Ocean, en suites, staff rooms and a bar.
Leading agents say the strip of around twenty homes on the road are guaranteed prices upwards of R30-R50 million. A plot in the street recently sold for R35 million – a cool R30 000 per square metre.
Property analyst for Absa Home Loans, Jacques du Toit, is not surprised at the price tags. “There will always be extremely wealthy people who will be able to buy these kind of properties, despite the economic conditions. The scarcity of land in that area will also continue to drive the prices up.”
It’s in this sweet spot of the Atlantic Seaboard – which includes Fresnaye, Clifton, Bantry Bay and Camps Bay – that you will encounter the greatest mix of local and foreign buyers. You could find yourself rubbing shoulders with the royal family of Qatar – or sharing the paths to the beach with local top executives and magnates from Nigeria.
Seeff says about 28% of its sales in the area are to foreign buyers, with about 10% from African countries such as Nigeria, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Some elite properties were snapped up earlier this year. Pam Golding recently sold a home at the top of exclusive Fresnaye to a buyer from the United Arab Emirates for R110 million – the biggest sale in the area to date. The Stefan Antoni-designed house boasted a media centre, playroom, infinity pool, gymnasium and fittings and finishes from around the world.
Closer to town, Nigerian commodities tycoon, Abdulsamad Rabiu, recently featured by Forbes Magazine as Africa’s latest billionaire, is the new owner of a penthouse at The One & Only at Cape Town’s V & Waterfront.
Many wealthy snowbirds have also flocked here from colder climes, often spending the summer in their Atlantic homes.
Pam Golding still has South Africa’s most expensive property, the ‘Enigma Mansion’ on its books, with a price tag of R300 million. The 7 000 square metre property in Camps Bay boasts a flamboyant mansion, which took several years to build. The German seller has seen some offers, but a deal has not yet been made.
Pam Golding has also made two recent sales to Mozambican buyers, and a R28 million property sale at the exclusive ‘Eventide’ development to a Nigerian buyer.
Foreign buying on the Atlantic Seaboard was much higher than the national average of 3.5% of the total housing sales in South Africa in the third quarter of 2013, says John Loos, FNB household and property sector strategist. This was an increase from a 2% foreign buying low in late 2010 but still far from the high of 6.5% in 2008.
The squeezed upper echelons
While Seeff says its seen a 16% increase in sales activity on the Atlantic Seaboard this year, this doesn’t reflect the picture of sales in a slightly lower category. Many South Africans in the upper income bracket have been squeezed by difficult economic times.
Loos says the property market in the R4 million to R6 million category was the weakest of all market segments in the third quarter.
Du Toit believes with more economic stability in Europe and a weak rand, South African could attract more foreign buyers. The weaker rand has made South African properties 30% cheaper in US dollar terms over the past year and a half.
But Loos says the argument over the weak rand is questionable.
“The weakness of the rand has made property a lot cheaper in foreign denomination terms, but it’s driven by poorer sentiment to South Africa. Poor sentiment could hamper investment.”
He adds that property is also not as popular an investment as it used to be and that foreign buyers have not come back in as strong numbers as they did in the pre-recession days.
Still, with the summer festive season nearly upon us, estate agents are gearing up for some intense bling property browsing in Cape Town this season.
Seeff’s Atlantic Seaboard luxury market specialist, Lance Cohen, views November as an excellent sales month. He says in December sales are generally good, although many people take their time house-hunting and window-shopping rather than clinching a deal.
The festive season is followed by the traditionally excellent sales months of January, February and March.
So it seems that for the narrow band that makes up Cape Town’s sunset strip, high prices may be the one constant. With little or no more land to develop, homeowners can afford to relax, sip their cocktails and enjoy the view.