Words: Robyn Anthony Images: Supplied

When it comes to developments in Port Elizabeth, it seems younger professionals would most likely opt for modernised homes with architect-designed features such as feature walls, larger tiles creating a seamless effect, rustic designs, and a concrete look.

“People are looking for size, comfort and a sleek design to their home – something practical, but also beautiful,” says Aaron Cohen, Cohen Development Properties. “There’s also a demand for well-priced developments with freestanding homes at the right price and in the right areas.”

According to well-known Bay businessman Jaco Rademeyer, there’s currently also considerable demand for entry-level residential developments and retirement village developments. “Industrial and commercial developments are still very active and attractive,” he adds.

Retirement developments

“The retirement villages are popular due to low maintenance and the availability of medical assistance. There’s also the community-feel with same-age and like-minded people. It caters to the elderly with a community centre on site and gives a sense of belonging.”

Jaco and his team from their family businesses, specialise in these kinds of developments. “We’re busy with the construction of Montmedy Retirement Village in Lorraine, and own and manage around 150 of these units around Port Elizabeth. Being the largest independent developers of these kinds of units, we create a community where security, lower cost of living, health-care options and a lock-up-and-go lifestyle are secured.”

Estate developments

This seems to be another trend on the rise, whether for security or social reasons. Interest in estate living continues to grow, not just for the safety and security benefits, but also for amenities that provide a comfortable lifestyle in these developments.

“I think safety and security are the most fundamentally important features of these kinds of developments,” says Nicholas Stopforth, managing director, Amdec Property Development. “It’s a totally relaxed environment – there’s just no stress at all about security.” He says many millennials are opting for this kind of living, but choose apartment living with a variety of mod-cons and pedestrian access to everything they need within a relatively small area over free-standing homes in the suburbs.

“For millennial buyers and renters, less is more. Everything needs to be highly functional, practical, easy to use, and take up as little space in their lives as possible. Most importantly, however, safety is their top concern when purchasing or renting a property,” he adds. In Port Elizabeth the Amdec group has put much energy and thought into Westbrook, a new suburb in Parson’s Vlei. Clifford Oosthuizen, managing director, Westbrook, has long been involved in the Bay as a developer of more than 550 homes under the well-known Smallville brand.

Clifford describes Westbrook as a multi-generational estate which will eventually comprise 3,500 homes spread across nine residential villages with a town square at its centre. It’s home to Westbrook Curro School, already operational, and will soon offer world-class health-care facilities, retail stores, restaurants, office space and an Evergreen Lifestyle retirement village within the development. “We’re creating beautiful plots for people to enjoy everything that we’ve worked so hard to preserve. We make sure we keep the river clean without disturbing it, and we want residents to be able to enjoy this peaceful space,” Clifford says.

Residential

According to Jaco, Lorraine is still popular for residential developments though interest in Pinelands, Parson’s Vlei and Fairview is growing. “Middle-class developments in these areas are popular, while Greenbushes is popular for industrial developments.

“As land becomes scarcer, so densification has increased. The size of stands became smaller, building sizes have become smaller and sectional-title developments are being built in large numbers,” Jaco adds.

“The areas we find most popular would be Fairview, The Pinelands and Mount Pleasant/Salisbury park,” Aaron says. These areas are central, shopping centers are easily accessible, as are schools. The Fairview sports and community centre has a multi-purpose indoor sports facility, and fields for soccer, rugby, cricket and hockey. Fairview is also near major access routes.

“The rental market is booming all around Fairview because of the integration between live, work and play,” Aaron says. “Fairview is where it’s happening, everything integrates with one another making life easily accessible and central. It’s also ideally positioned alongside ever-popular Lorraine and the William Moffett Expressway with its wide range of motor vehicle head offices, and close to the rapidly developing Baywest economic hub, as well as the city’s traditional work centres.”

The big picture

Jaco says there aren’t any real fireworks in the Bay property market at the moment. “Trends seem to be more or less the same as in 2010 with property growth around 3,5%, according to banks statistics. Properties in higher brackets (R1,5m plus) only see a 1% growth compared to the 7% or 8% in the boom period,” he says. “The high-end buyer is scared because of political and economic uncertainty, while the entry-level buyer struggles to get into the property market due to affordability constraints. Like many sectors, the property market is feeling the effects of the economy.”

According to Aaron, with the market having its ups and downs, properties need to be the right price and size. “That being said, the product has to be of value, with stunning finishes and upmarket features as well.”

Properties with potential for rental still appeal to buyers, Jaco says. Lock-up-and-go options are attractive due to less maintenance and these units are usually easy to rent out, despite market fluctuations.

“Crime remains a worry in South Africa and continues to affect the property market. Estates and complexes will continue to be popular due to the perception of a more secure environment,” Jaco says.