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Boost home value by R70,000 – welcome to the fibrehood

Fibre to the home is being rolled out on a big scales across multiple suburbs in South Africa.

Fibre to the home is the next evolution in internet connectivity, and it could directly increase the value of your home.

In fact, Fiber to the Home Council Americas released a report in July showing a 3.1% increase in home values with those connected to the technology.

“Using the national broadband map and a nationwide sample of real estate prices from 2011 to 2013, the study’s authors investigated the relationship between fibre-delivered internet services and housing prices,” the council’s press release reads. “The boost to the value of a typical home – $5,437 (more than R70,000) – is roughly equivalent to adding a fireplace, half of a bathroom or a quarter of a swimming pool to the home.”

South Africa is yet to conduct its own study.

While fibre to the home is relatively new in South Africa, and both Telkom and private players are slowly filling in the connectivity gaps in the major metros, the benefits of a connected home are many.

“Faster internet has many applications,” says Ewald Kellerman, head of customer interaction at Absa Home Loans. “The most prominent is streaming video such as internet TV and movies. As the technology becomes more accessible, consumers are likely to allow more and more of this type of technology to simplify their lives. There are practically unlimited applications, such as in security, education, healthcare and professional services. The technology is ahead of the application, but one could expect to see many innovative uses emerge as it becomes more accessible.”

How is a neighborhood’s internet connectivity increasingly becoming a factor in signing a sale or lease agreement? Kellerman says better connectivity certainly affects marketability and value, and that access to high-speed internet is prominent in the young independent singles and young couples’ groups. This was revealed in Absa’s second instalment of its Homeowner Insights report.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reports that Americans are increasingly basing buying decisions on the availability of fast internet.

Fibre to the home has been rolled out across suburbs in Johannesburg, such as Parkhurst, as well as in new upmarket developments such as Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate, Steyn City and Park Central.

Gregor Farmer of Kings Estates, which operates in the northern Johannesburg suburbs, including Parkhurst which received full coverage fibre to the home this year, says the installation “has been a rather positive addition to the suburb for usage reasons”.

“It has been a ‘nice to have’ addition to each house and the neighbourhood,” he says. “However, I don’t believe that its installation has had any marked effect on actual home prices recently.”

It may be early days, but according to property data company, Lightstone, Parkhurst demographics indicate fibre to the home is ripe for the taking: 62% of stable owners are aged 18 to 49, while 84% of recent buyers fall in this age group.

Average valuations in the suburb, whose average household incomes are between R67,000 and R75,000 a month, show that freehold property values have increased by more than 38% since 2010.

Seeff’s area agent for Parkhurst, Brigida Simpson, says fibre-to-home in the suburb is a huge selling point. “Most buyers have heard of the fibre to the home and ask about it when viewing property,” Simpson says, with agency compatriot, Charles Vining, MD of the Sandton branch, adding that the connectivity is more than an advance media player. “Homes can have their electric, heating and security systems functioning via mobile device apps. Security cameras in some of the streets in Parkhurst allow for live streaming to the homeowners, which is a remarkable added level of security.”

In another of the “Parks” suburbs, Parktown North, fibre to the home was recently rolled out to the suburb and, according to David Brickhill, Parktown North area specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, has been used as a direct selling point for marketing the homes in the area.

“The new fibre optic installation in the suburb has been extremely well-received by residents and we now feature it as a strong selling point,” he says. “Although not cheap, most residents are keen to subscribe as the speed of internet connection it provides is far quicker than the traditional Telkom cabling.

“At the moment fibre optic access definitely adds attraction to properties in the area, but this unique selling point for the ‘Parks’ will decline in value as the roll out progresses and the service becomes more commonplace.”

In the Western Cape, where fibre to the home is still in its infancy, residents are welcoming the technology.

“While difficult to assess because it is still in its early stages, fibre to the home is being met with enthusiasm by homeowners, especially where connectivity fees are not astronomical,” says Laurie Wener, MD for Pam Golding Properties in the Western Cape Metro region. “Although one cannot be sure about a material effect on prices at this stage, it is certainly a welcome addition.”

Seeff principal, Samuel Seeff, say that due to the technology still being very new, it is difficult to assess what impact it would have on property prices.

“It would, however, be a significant added extra for home buyers,” he says.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that it is not good enough anymore to just be able to pick up good wifi reception or have Telkom DSL lines available.

“Older lines are generally still restricted to 10 megabytes per second speeds, while fibre networks can serve up to 1 gigabyte per second (approximately 100 times faster), at a much cheaper cost relative to the speed,” says Kellerman. “While mobile coverage has improved significantly in both cost and speed in the last couple of years, it is still very expensive compared to fixed lines. In all cases, fibre is often reported as the most consistent.”

 

FTTH metro rollout

Jo’burg

Atholl, Beverley, Blairgowrie, Douglasdale, Emmarentia, Forest Town, Fourways, Gallo Manor, Greenside, Houghton Estate, Hurlingham, Hurlingham Manor, Hyde Park, Illovo, Inanda, Chislehurston, Killarney, Riviera, Linden, Lonehill, Melrose, Birdhaven, Melville, Parkhurst, Parkmore, Parktown, Parktown North, Parkwood, Pine Slopes, River Club, Sandhurst, Saxonwold, Upper Houghton, Victory Park and Westcliff

 

Pretoria

Brooklyn, Constantia Park, Copperleaf, Die Wilgers, De Hoewes, Equestria, Faerie Glen, Groenkloof, Lynnwood, Monument Park, Wierdapark

 

Cape Town

Bishopscourt, Camps Bay, Bakoven, Constantia, De Waterkant, Durbanville, Fresnaye, Gardens, Hout Bay, Kenilworth, Kraaifontein, Mouille Point, Newlands, Oranjezicht, Parow, Rondebosch, Sea Point, Tamboerskloof and Vredehoek

 

Durban

Hillcrest, Newlands East, Pinetown, Umhlanga, Westville

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david.steynberg@gmail.com

David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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