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The latest industry insight from Lightstone Property reveals that more than 80,000 homeowners in South Africa sold their property and bought elsewhere the past three years


Between 2018 and 2020, most homeowners moved to and from the Big Three provinces (Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng). “Nearly 84,000 homeowners sold and bought elsewhere – with 76% moving from city to city, 14% relocating from a city to a smaller town, and 10% headed the other way,” says Hayley Ivins-Downes, head of digital, Lightstone Property.

Moving to cities declined

Lightstone‘s data reveals that movement between metros cities has been declining over the years, from 22,919 in 2018 to 21,861 in 2019 and 19,005 in 2020. However, this remains a significant number given the disruptions caused by Covid-19 and the lockdown which restricted movement by people across the country. Nearly 12,000 homeowners left cities for smaller towns over the three years documented, with a slight decline from 2018 to 2019 (4,297 to 4,080) and then a more significant drop in 2020 to 3,502. Approximately 44% of these homeowners relocated to smaller towns from Gauteng, followed by the Western Cape (between 26% and 30%) and KZN (11% and 12%).

The number of homeowners moving from smaller towns to cities has been dropping more substantially over the past three years, from 3,031 (2018) to 2,658 (2019) and then to 2,262 in 2020. “Movement within provinces shows that more homeowners bought in small towns in the Western Cape and KZN over the past three years, than left for the cities,” Ivins-Downes says.


Favouring small towns

Lightstone’s information also shows that the majority of people in the Western Cape and KZN who left cities for smaller towns stayed within provincial borders (WC – 81%; KZN – 77%). While those leaving Gauteng’s cities were more evenly spread across the provinces, with the Western Cape and KZN being the most popular destinations.

Data indicates that almost 90% of homeowners who have settled in smaller towns in the WC have come from cities in that province or Gauteng. The remaining 10% is evenly spread among other provinces. Similarly, about 90% of homeowners who have settled in smaller towns in KZN have come from cities in that province or Gauteng, with 7% relocating from the WC and the balance spread across other provinces.


What people buy

The type of property homeowners opted for when they relocated to a smaller town in KZN in 2019 was freehold, while in 2020 slightly more chose sectional title. Estate living came in third in both years. This is significantly different in the WC, where the vast majority of homeowners chose freehold, followed by estate living, with limited numbers opting for sectional title.

It is interesting to note that homeowners moving from Gauteng to smaller towns overwhelmingly preferred freehold and estate living over sectional title. “Information on the preference variations boils down to availability and price. Interestingly, we see that there was almost no sectional title or estate stock available in Gauteng, while the Western Cape had 10% availability in estate properties and KZN 14% in sectional title properties,” Ivins Downes says.

Who is moving?

The majority of homeowners (63%) who moved in 2020 were between 45 and 65 years old (2019: 62%), and most of those moving are buying mid-value (58%, 2019: 57%) and high-value homes (32%, 2019: 31%).

Where are they buying?

“If we take a look at the preferred towns, we see quite a different picture from the rest of the country compared to the WC,” says Ivins-Downes. The top three choices for those moving from Gauteng to KZN were Margate, Port Shepstone and Ballito. While those relocating within KZN chose Howick, Ballito and Salt Rock.

Interestingly, Port Edward and Southbroom were among the favourites for those coming from Gauteng but did not make the KZN relocation list, while neither Howick nor Hilton was favoured by those moving from Gauteng.

“Those relocating from within the Western Cape’s borders and those coming from Gauteng shared a liking for Groot Brakrivier, while the other top choices for the WC were Langebaan, Hermanus and St Helena Bay. The top four choices for those moving from Gauteng were Groot Brakrivier, then Hermanus, Plettenberg Bay and Knysna,” he says.


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