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Tuesday Apr 18, 2017

Joburgers flock southwards

The number Gauteng "semigrants" coming to the Western Cape is likely to intensify in the coming years as South Africans look to live in perceived safer havens around the country.

The impact of the economic slowdown, prior to the country's junk status rating, did not appear to have affected the level of selling in order to relocate to other parts of South Africa, says John Loos, FNB household and property sector strategist. And this is unlikely to change.

In certain instances, Loos believes "semigration" has become the affordable alternative to emigration, "given that extreme property values in many popular emigration destinations have made emigration a very costly business".

He believes wealthier people "are increasingly searching for lifestyle, and are often prepared to relocate for it".

Samuel Seeff, chairman of Seeff, says people from Joburg and Pretoria make up to 20% of buyers in certain areas in Cape Town.

"Inward migration continues at a pace, with more and more people flocking to the city to buy and rent, and this is likely to continue."

Seeff says there is a lot of activity in some hot spot areas, including the Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl, but also in places such as Bishopscourt and Constantia in the southern suburbs. They have also had buyers with equestrian interests who have bought in Noordhoek and Hout Bay especially.

Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty, says the bleak economy and vastly devalued currency have made emigration "an almost insane option, yet there has been a steady rise since 2014 in the number of desperate, skilled South Africans leaving the country".

"The South Africans who don't have the luxury of leaving are instead streaming to the 'safe harbour' of the Western Cape, which is perceived to have significantly higher standards of service delivery and offers a better lifestyle.

"It's a trend that started as a trickle five years ago and has subsequently turned into a flood that I don't expect to stop any time soon."

Seeff says the "the Western Cape is seen as the top province with a well-run local government and high business confidence levels".

While more than 50% of bonds registered in Gauteng last year were for properties bought in the Western Cape, some of those were definitely "a foot on the Cape property ladder" investment buys before prices rose even further, says Geffen.

Others have continued the trend of "commuter families".

Di Kuhlenthal, area specialist in Rosebank, Johannesburg, for stone started tracking the numbers, 22% of residential properties bought in the province were bought by buyers over 65. This increased to 35% last year.

Bruce Swain, CEO of Leapfrog Property Group, says he believes the "perception that the Western Cape government functions better and the surge of secure estates and sectional title developments - which are seen to be more secure and require less maintenance - in areas like Somerset West, are major drawcards for people looking to retire".

Giel Viljoen, principal of Leapfrog in Stellenbosch, says in the past six months "we have seen a lot more people from other provinces, mostly Joburg and Pretoria, looking to buy here. Unfortunately, what they don't realise is that prices here are a lot higher".

Another problem is the buyers still have to sell their homes and are struggling to sell them in time as property in Stellenbosch goes fast if priced correctly.

"We have seen that security plays a massive role when these buyers are looking for properties. Estates we sell in Stellenbosch, which have top security and are priced between R4 million and R10m, do very well with these buyers."

Vivian Warby
Independent Property

Independent Property appears every Saturday in the Weekend Argus

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