Houses in Cape Town's Southern Suburbs are spending less time on the market this year

In 2021, post-pandemic pent-up demand precipitated a surge of market activity countrywide, and the Southern Suburbs was no exception, however, instead of levelling off this year, the market has remained robust with well-priced properties being quickly snapped up.

“Immediately after lockdown, the market was driven by two key motivators: those whose plans to buy or sell had been delayed by the pandemic and those whose lifestyle needs had changed during the pandemic,” says Claude McKirby, Co-Principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Southern Suburbs, False Bay and Noordhoek.

“We also saw the revival of semigration in 2021 which has accelerated this year to become a strong market driver along with steady demand from local buyers looking for spacious family homes near good schools and amenities.

McKirby says that the Southern Suburbs area has long been a popular choice as it offers numerous compelling lifestyle drawcards.

“In addition to being home to several top schools, residents also enjoy close proximity to first-rate amenities and medical facilities as well as myriad leisure and sporting activities, from beaches and golf courses to wine farms and acclaimed restaurants.”

The leafy suburb of Rondebosch, with its distinctly colonial air, is not only sought-after for its convenient location and proximity to top schools; it is also renowned for its beautiful examples of Victorian, Edwardian, and mock Tudor homes which now fetch record prices when sympathetically restored.

According to Propstats data, in 2021 the average time a house spent on the market was 171 days which has dropped to 71 days this year for homes across all price bands.

Jane Stirton, Area Specialist for the group, says: “Rondebosch has long been the ‘hero’ suburb as it’s home to several of the best schools the city has to offer and the demand to be in the ‘catchment area’ of these schools (particularly Rondebosch Boys’) has always been a driving factor.

“This suburb has always been about families, children, and living close to schools. In later years, proximity to the university allows families to continue living this wonderful community lifestyle.”

Stirton adds that the semigration from KZN and Gauteng has been a very significant factor during the past year, with many frustrated buyers struggling to find the “right home” in the right area and close to their school of choice.

“The Golden Mile pocket of Rondebosch is regarded as the prime area in the suburb as homes here are within walking distance to many fine schools. As a result, these properties are highly sought after and also command higher prices from around R6.5 million to R10m plus at the top end.”

In neighbouring Claremont, where the selling time has dropped from 77 days in 2021 to 66 days this year, partner agents, Bridget Proudfoot and Lia Rattle, say that the market has swung from a buyer to a seller’s market, with stock now running low.

“Semigration along with the fact that people have finally learnt to live with Covid has seen a spike in demand for houses in Claremont and Lynfrae and there are now few homes for buyers to choose from.

“Most homes are accessibly priced between R3m and R4 and those that are accurately priced for the market are now being sold within a week or two whilst those which are over-priced are spending months on the market.”

They add that another shift that has emerged in recent months is the preference for renovated homes rather that fixer-uppers which were always extremely sought after.

“This is particularly prevalent amongst first-time buyers which we believe this is largely due to the fact that the majority of are couples with young families who, because they both work, don’t have time to deal with renovations.”

In Claremont Upper, which falls into a higher price band, the top end of the market has been outperforming the lower segments with the majority of enquiries being from Johannesburg buyers, according to Area Specialists, Elaine Dobson and Ruth Leach.

“Although the selling time has dropped from 145 days to 101 days this year and the market has definitely picked up, in the mid-range sector we are finding that although there are many interested buyers looking in the R5m to R6m price range, they are seeking the ‘right address’ and expect a lot of house for their money.

“There have also been fewer homes coming onto the market during the past month which we suspect is because of the interest rate hikes and rising cost of living, so many sellers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude for now.”

Barbara Manning, who works in Kenilworth Upper, Trovato, Bishopscourt and Upper Claremont also reports considerable interest from upcountry buyers, but says that this doesn’t always translate into sales as most find Cape Town prices too high compared to Johannesburg, especially in the R6m to R8m price band.

“This year we are seeing the highest demand at the top end of the market, with the lower and middle markets being more impacted by the rising interest rates and cost of living. Last year, we saw these sectors respond well to the low interest rates.”

She adds that although there has been a notable uptick in activity, the market is still very price-sensitive and sellers must take care not to price themselves out of the market.

In 2021, houses in Kenilworth Upper and Wynberg Upper were on the market for an average of 141 and 137 days and this year 83 and 104 respectively.

McKirby says that over and above the consistent interest from local and upcountry buyers, there has also been considerable interest from swallows and foreign buyers who are attracted by the comparative value the area offers and the quality lifestyle residents enjoy.

“That said, even these buyers are seldom willing to pay over market value and they have a wide choice of properties from which to choose so, although the market has picked up, some houses are still taking as long as a year to sell, which is largely down to pricing.

“For a successful sale in the shortest time, sellers need to carefully consider pricing and take cognisance of similar properties in their respective areas and ensure their property is competitively priced compared to competing homes on the market.”

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