What price? How big? What finishes? What part of Cape Town? These are some of the questions, though not necessarily in that order, put to three Rawson Property Group franchisees, with much commonality in the answers in the agency’s Buyer Trend Watch 2016: Cape Town.
It found that as fashions and lifestyles change, the elements that affect buying decisions in the property market change as well, and keeping track of what buyers do and don’t want can be difficult at times. Trends vary according to price bracket and area, but there are often some overarching themes to be found. Here’s what three Rawson property franchisees across Cape Town and the Winelands think these themes may be for 2016.
“The easiest trend to spot at the moment is the flourishing low to mid-range price bracket,” says Nancy Todd, the Rawson Property Group’s Constantia franchisee. She attributes the amount of activity in this bracket, which includes properties up to R3 million in areas close to Newlands and Constantia, to the growing number of young people realising the value of owning their own homes, and earning salaries that allow them to get their foot in the market.”
Lizette Joubert, franchisee at the Rawson Property Group’s Paarl franchise agrees with Todd’s assessment, having noticed similar trends in both Paarl East and Paarl proper. “Mid-range in Paarl East is between R600 000 and R800 000 and mid-range in Paarl proper is R1.5 million to R1.9 million, so we see very different buyers in both areas. Nonetheless, it’s definitely those price brackets that are getting the most attention.”
Cape Town’s CBD is also experiencing the most demand in low to mid brackets, although those price-points are significantly higher. “We have two distinct bands of activity at present,” says Alisdair Crofton, franchisee at the Rawson Property Group’s Cape Town CBD franchise. “The first is apartments under R2.5 million – which doesn’t go far in the CBD and tends to be investment or student accommodation – and the second is family homes in the R6.5 million to R12 million bracket, which is our mid-range for that property type.”
All three franchisees report buyers’ most commonly requested features for houses to be a minimum of three bedrooms, two bathrooms and off-street or covered parking, with security playing an important role in all areas. “Levies are important considerations in sectional title properties,” says Joubert, “while freehold homes benefit from gardens with mature trees.”
“Swimming pools are also popular in summer,” adds Todd, “but are less of an asset when selling in winter. Street appeal remains vital all year round.” As for fittings and finishes, these are still essential – unless you’re marketing as a fixer-upper. “It’s possible to get unusually high prices for really great finishes in the Southern Suburbs,” says Todd. “Buyers fall in love with exceptional kitchens and bathrooms, but they do need to be area and price-appropriate.”
Both Joubert and Crofton agree, with Crofton going so far as to attribute the deciding factor in a sale to the finishes, more often than not. Particularly popular elements are freestanding baths, walk-in showers and chef-worthy kitchens, but Todd emphasises the need for diversity in design, as not all buyers have the same aesthetic values. “It’s a good idea to consider your target market before doing any renovations,” she says. “If you’re not sure what your typical buyer would be looking for, chat to a property expert in your area.”
Some good news for sellers with older homes who aren’t up for pre-sale renovations is that fixer-uppers remain popular, according to Joubert, Todd and Crofton. “We do have first-time buyers who are nervous of renovations, and high-flyers who don’t have time for that sort of thing,” says Todd, “but there is a large proportion of the market that will jump at the opportunity to customise a home to their own taste.”
Regardless of the age or style of a property, an appearance of neglect can still be detrimental to a sale, and all three agents recommend some small cosmetic updates before listing a property in 2016. “Buyers are very wary of the potential for underlying problems caused by poor maintenance over the years,” says Todd. “Working fittings and fixtures, a neat garden, clean windows, a fresh coat of paint, and a thorough decluttering can go a long way towards allaying those fears.” Other recommendations include putting bright bulbs in all your light fittings and avoiding cluttering your façade with multiple “For Sale” signs from a plethora of estate agencies.
“One thing that will always be true,” Todd concludes, “is that properties are bought emotionally, not logically. No matter the trends, if your home can capture a buyer’s heart and imagination, you’ve got the sale.”