African buyers underpin Gauteng's popularity with foreign investors

For a number of years now, the Western Cape has been enjoying the limelight as the preferred destination for foreign property buyers but, although the Cape by far outshines seven of South Africa’s nine provinces, what might surprise some people is that it actually runs a rather distant second to Gauteng.

According to Lightstone data, in 2021 there were 9495 sales to foreign buyers and, of these, 2120 were in the Western Cape whilst 3670 were in Gauteng.

Furthermore, the top three preferred cities were Johannesburg (1024 sales), Sandton (890), and Pretoria (776) with Cape Town in fourth place (686) – and, except for Milnerton in sixth place, the rest of the top 10 cities were all in Gauteng.

Cobus Odendaal, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s in Johannesburg and Randburg says that over and above the usual investors from Europe and the States, they’ve been seeing a fast-growing number of buyers from other African countries.

“With Johannesburg not only being the largest city in Africa but also the wealthiest, it’s regarded as a power and financial hub and we’ve been receiving many enquiries from a number of countries, but especially from buyers from Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, and Nigeria.

“The Northern Suburbs are the most sought after, and many prefer to buy in and around Sandton, because they consider this area to be a financial safe haven.”

Odendaal says that the majority of investors are buying residential homes, often as second ‘permanent’ homes and, as many are families that are splitting their time between two countries, proximity to good schools is important.

“Some of the buyers are also business people who travel to Johannesburg often and would rather stay in a proper, well-equipped living space than an impersonal corporate hotel.

“And, what’s common across the board is that most of these investors are looking for immaculate properties at the upper end of the market with one of highest recent sales being a R42m home in Bryanston to a Botswana national.”

He adds that slightly further afield, Pretoria East has become a popular residential destination for foreign diplomats and industry leaders who are attracted by the world-class estates in the area, with diplomatic communities established in the most exclusive estates.

“We are also starting to see an increase in commercial investment and, once again, these buyers aren’t looking for fixer-uppers or development projects but rather for buildings in a better than fair condition and in AAA locations.”

“Despite South Africa’s political turmoil and energy crisis, there is still significant interest from international property buyers who are drawn by the country’s inimitable lifestyle and temperate climate and the fact that that they can get considerably more bang for their buck here than in comparable areas abroad.

“Additionally, South Africa has one of the best Deeds Registry systems in the world, offering certainty and security in respect of property ownership and tenure and non-residents are subject to the same well-established laws and regulations as South Africans when buying property.

“Real estate investment has shown remarkable resilience over the years, and remains one of the best ways to accumulate wealth and I think that the interest we are now seeing in Johannesburg is only the beginning and that we should prepare for a spike in foreign buyer activity, especially from investors from other African countries.” concludes Odendaal.

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