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WORDS: DEBBIE LOOTS – IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK

Results of the latest Residential Global Market Sentiment Survey from Savills show that the tide is turning in terms of buyers’ home choices in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

No less than 76% of respondents say they expect working from home to become more prevalent, whereas 73% think urban dwellers will want a green space when considering a new home.  

Interestingly, 61% expect a demand for rural living to be on the cards.

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Country lifestyle

In South Africa, a rural lifestyle could mean moving to a small town such as Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, Riebeek Kasteel in the Western Cape or Rosendal in the Free State. However, it could also be as easy as relocating to your nearest lifestyle estate

Some of these developments operate like independent small towns, boasting sprawling grounds, indoor and outdoor facilities, top schools, medical facilities and multigenerational home options.  

And to make their setup even more appealing, most estates offer top-notch technology – fast Wi-Fi and 24-hour security – and are close to urban hubs should city lights beckon.  

Lightstone Property statistics indicate the popularity of these estates has increased in the past decade. In 2010, they accounted for 12.7% of all homes sold in SA. Last year the figure rose to 14.7%.  

The regional breakdown of estate sales shows that, nationally the Western Cape had the highest number of estate home sales between 2010 and 2019. Gated communities are now also more eco-conscious than ever, with some working to go off-grid. This makes them more appealing, especially in the face of SA’s periodic droughts and ongoing energy crisis.

Safer

If social distancing becomes a more permanent feature, there could be a growing demand for homes in estates; with public access limited, exposure is less likely. Lifestyle estates also offer a sense of spaciousness as homes are designed with privacy in mind and most have expansive outside areas.

For months, lockdown has had people feeling trapped in their homes. This will definitely influence their decisions in terms of choosing new homes going forward. More interest in gardens, meditation areas and space for a vegetable patch, for instance, is highly likely.  

Children also need extra space and people will now, more than ever, want to follow an organic and sustainable lifestyle.

Home sanctuary

Given that the coronavirus will be with us for some time, home has now become a sanctuary, in the true sense of the word. More than ever, families will want to invest in developments that offer a variety of services where they can stay home without sacrificing certain comforts during possible further lockdowns.  

Mixed-use residential developments that offer standalone homes with private gardens and pools are perfect for families wanting to raise their children in a secure environment with extras such as a clubhouse with gym facilities, a restaurant, a playground, gardens and 24-hour security.

On the positive side

1 – Security

Safety concerns are driving the increasing demand for homes in security estates. According to the most recent crime report, two million crimes were recorded in South Africa in 2019 with more than 22,400 cases of robbery at residential premises. Faced with such statistics, buyers want properties with perimeter monitoring, 24-hour security and access control. New trends include a combination of CCTV, access control, security lights and outdoor alarm beams.

2 – Community

A lifestyle estate offers residents a wide variety of recreational and sporting features such as swimming pools, tennis and squash courts, parks, gyms, cycling paths, clubhouses and even golf courses. South African developers are pioneering the trend of building schools on estates, which is convenient for parents, and children can walk to and from school.

3 – Gardens

Landscaping is a particularly important feature as it not only creates a sense of peace and quiet but also adds to the overall value of the development.

4 – Communal areas

The estate maintains communal areas and facilities such as roads, sidewalks, landscaping, perimeter fences and security cameras. This is often overseen by the property owners’ association. Cared for communal areas also add to the value of investment into the estate.

5 – Architectural cohesion

A lot of thought and planning go into architectural features and fittings. By regulating a variety of exterior features and making quality mandatory, estates maintain the property’s aesthetic appeal, which increases its value.

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