We are continuing our focus on residential estates in South Africa in this week’s edition of The Property Pod.
In this episode, I speak to wealth analyst at New World Wealth Andrew Amoils about the country’s top estates as well as trends in the market.
New World Wealth has done a lot of research over the years into high-net-worth individuals, both locally and internationally, as well as broadly on the luxury or the wealth sector, including residential estates in South Africa.
Highlights of his interview appear below. You can also listen to the full podcast above or download it from iono, Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
“We’ve been rating the top estates in South Africa since around 2015. Based on our latest ratings the top estates are the likes of Val de Vie, Fancourt, Pezula, Steyn City, Steenberg, Arabella, Atlantic Beach and Simbithi. That’s in the overall lifestyle estate category.”
“South Africa is a pioneer in estate living. Well, you could call it that because estates have been big in South Africa for quite a long time – since the early 1990s – whereas in places like the UAE and New Zealand and other parts of the world they’ve started to take off only in the last five years or so.”
“I think there are a number of reasons for their popularity. They’re becoming very popular among wealthy people because they offer a lot of security and privacy.”
“There is obviously a lifestyle and community element to [estates] in terms of parklands and children’s playgrounds. And then of course there are all the facilities. A lot of estates have in-house gyms, they offer golf, horse riding, tennis, cycling, jogging paths.”
“There’s [also] the element of having limited and controlled traffic, which is quite a big thing for families or people with young children. A lot of the estates have underpasses under the roads, or they have quite strict rules about driving fast. I think for a lot of people that appeals to them in terms of raising children in estates.”
How do these estates get featured in your top five or 10 list?
“We do tend to focus on the luxury ones [estates], although that’s not the only element. If you were to look purely at the most expensive estates – the most expensive estates in South Africa in terms of average price are probably the likes of Silverhurst in Cape Town, Pezula Private Estate, Leopard Creek [and] One Forrest Road Estate in Inanda [Sandton] are probably the very top-end.”
“But then a lot of the estates we look at are top-end, they are luxury, but a lot of them offer apartments. So some of them are entry level, normally at around R3 million for a smaller apartment or a small townhouse. So we definitely take that into account.”
“[However], we look at a lot of other things in terms of activities and facilities that are offered. Obviously, the main thing is how well the estate is maintained … We focus mainly on estates that have some kind of communal areas, so in terms of general townhouse developments, we wouldn’t really consider those because they don’t have that. So yeah, there are various elements that we look at.”
Is there opportunity for further estate development in South Africa, or do you perhaps expect it to dry up at some stage?
“There is definitely room for growth. A lot of the estates are not fully saturated with people, so they’ve obviously got to grow more. A lot of the estates were put up 20 years ago, top-end estates, are still not full; not all the plots have been developed. So there’s still room to grow on the existing estate.”
“In terms of building new estates, that part of the market might be slightly slow. But I think that the big trend that we’ve seen in the last few years is a movement away from houses and towards apartments.”
“I think if you look at estates in South Africa, the golf estates in particular, a lot of them were put up in the 1990s or the early 2000s. But if you actually look – over the last five to 10 years – at the developments that are being put up, the big ones have been the likes of Umhlanga Arch, which is obviously mixed-use, Brookfield at Royal on the golf course in Joburg, Steyn City’s new city centre, those are all apartment-type developments. I think that’s where it’s headed …
“Apartments have a lot of convenience over houses, and for people having a big house is not as appealing as it used to be, because you’ve got to get people to maintain the house. It’s not as good as a lock-up-and-go. Then obviously the rates and levies are much higher on houses.”
“There is a movement, even in the top end of the market, towards apartments and away from the sort of traditional golf estates that have houses sprinkled around the properties and more and more estates – the same estate, but with apartment blocks within them and maybe townhouse developments within them.”
“I think Steyn City is a good example of that because it has townhouse developments, it has houses and it has apartments – different apartment developments. So that’s probably where the estate-living sector is going.”
“Obviously there’ve been wildlife estates and retirement estates. There’s been a lot of growth in those in the last 10 years or so, but that has started to slow down as well over the last couple of years; but I think there was quite strong growth there between about 2010 and 2015.”
“For retirement-estate living there’s been a lot of growth there, particularly on the Garden Route, West Coast area, over the last 20 years …
“That area is very popular for retirement estates. Now you’re starting to see the North Coast starting to put up retirement estates as well in the past few years.”
“There are quite a few in Joburg as well, and around the country. I think there has been quite strong growth in that sector, so it’s difficult to know whether it’s already a bit saturated. These trends tend to be picked up only after a lot of the developments have gone up, so I think that the big growth in retirement estates has ended.”
“But if you can really do a fantastic retirement estate, there’s always potential for getting people because there are a lot of people in that age group who do have money. In particular, I think in areas like the North Coast of Natal, the Garden Route and Hermanus, there’s a lot of potential for retirement estates.”