The trend to favour the coastal lifestyle over the urban hustle and bustle remains strong long after peak pandemic activity has subsided. Demand for suburbs that offer a higher quality of lifestyle is likely to remain high for the foreseeable future.
Lightstone Property data reveals that as of the end of December 2021, house price inflation within coastal areas was at 6.1% and non-coastal areas are at 4.9%. The national average at the end of March 2022 is 4.55%. While current data on coastal versus non-coastal areas is not yet available, experts report that demand remains high for coastal and other remote areas.
“The pandemic saw buyers spread further afield to find homes that offer a higher quality of lifestyle. This trend seems to be holding strong for as long as the option to work remotely continues to exist,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
Barbara Larney of RE/MAX Town and Country reports that in Hermanus, Franschhoek, and Paarl, the buying ‘panic’ of fleeing to the countryside during the pandemic is now over. “That being said, I doubt things will go back to how they were before. Young families have been taking full advantage of this lifestyle shift by abandoning the locations they were tied to only because of their jobs. Buyers are showing an increased interest in less crowded settings and are striving to achieve better work-life balance. Smaller towns are likely to grow faster in some instances to accommodate this demand.”
Speaking of which, Larney advises investors to keep an eye on Botriver. “This is an ideal spot for redevelopment and making use of the existing assets. There is an opportunity here to remodel a charming, tiny town and make a good return on investment.”
According to Larney, the main driving factor for buyers moving to coastal and country areas remains semigration. “The most activity is seen at the coast (Gansbaai and surrounding areas), especially the between R2.5 - R5 million price range. The Western Cape continues to be the best-run province in the country, which is an integral drawcard for most buyers from Gauteng. Remote working and people wanting space, security and an outdoor lifestyle is still a major trend.”
Semigration is not the only sales driver though. Larney explains that the Cape Winelands and the Whale Coast offers the lifestyle many foreigners are seeking and continues to be popular real estate destinations among buyers from Europe, especially those in Germany.
“The pandemic accelerated the trend of digital nomads – individuals who travel from place to place with no fixed permanent home and who tend to rent their next temporary home from abroad, sight-unseen. This has actually increased demand for short-term technology-friendly rentals in our areas of operation,” Larney explains.
While house prices and demand continue to rise in these areas, Larney reports an increasing concern around affordability. “Buyers are looking for a quality lifestyle, but they are also looking for value because of the current global economic status. We are seeing increasing inventory in certain segments and with increasing interest rates, inflation, and the geopolitical turmoil, buyers are now more likely to evaluate their next move. The scale still favours the seller for now, but we are starting to see a shift.”
Another emerging trend that Larney highlights is a shift towards self-sustainability. “With the ongoing load shedding and with increasingly extreme weather from climate change, homes that are off the grid are becoming increasingly popular. Another trend is to remodel and upcycle older homes to lower costs and to reduce wastefulness. Tiny houses are also becoming increasingly popular, but these tend to be more suitable for individuals or empty nesters. Betty’s Bay is a popular area in this regard,” she notes.
“It is no longer about commutability; it’s about quality of life and going green (reducing carbon footprint and buying local) and being self-sustainable (growing your own fruit and vegetables). For this reason, I predict that the demand for coastal and country homes will remain strong for the foreseeable future,” she concludes.