The residential community sector in South Africa is often referred to as having ‘gated communities’ or ‘lifestyle estates’. Whilst not wholly inaccurate (a visible and organised security structure encompassing gated entrance and exits points, is, after all, one of the biggest attractions of a community of this nature), these expressions do serve more as an umbrella term than an exact definition, comprising the diverse assortment of communities in this sector, which all offer local and international homeowners unique lifestyle options tailored to their individual needs and desires. Keen golf players may, for example, choose to live a stone’s throw from a golf course in one of the many golf estates across the country, while those keen golfers who also own a boat may choose to reside in a golf estate that borders a dam or a river or perhaps in a coastal estate that has a golf course on-site.For the non-golfers, wildlife estate provide a natural environment with ample opportunity for game watching, while marina communities are just the thing for the canal-cruising, water sports enthusiast. equestrian estates mean horse lovers and owners can live in close proximity to their four-legged friends, while eco estates and communities built around working farms offer sustainable, environmental-friendly living.A mixed-use estate offers the perfect combination of retail (in terms of office blocks, restaurants, movie theatres, hotels and fuel stations) and stunning residences. Those choosing to enjoy the fruits of their labour in a retirement village are guaranteed a quieter lifestyle, with frail care centres, hospitals and clinics in most cases quite literally on their doorstep. Some of these communities even have on-site doctors, emergency services and pharmacies as well as dams, walking trails, bird watching social groups and a golf course, of course.
Developers intending to create a residential community usually do so with a particular vision in mind and this will help determine the type of estate. A fluctuating market and growth or decline of a specific community may mean that this vision has to be adapted and the already fiercely competitive industry makes it extremely difficult to retain distinctive appeal. Confusion is often created where an estate is labelled an ‘aero’ estate just because it has a light aircraft runway, a wildlife estate just because it has a few small bucks roaming on its lawns or a retirement estate purely because the developers want to attract the increasingly popular over 55 demographic. Just like the terms ‘communities’ and ‘lifestyle estates’ have often become misinterpreted, so have words like ‘eco’ and ‘nature’ when describing an estate.To prevent this confusion, it is extremely important to clearly identify the type of lifestyles that an individual community brings. In most cases, estate community living encompasses:A secure and safe lifestyle: This should include, amongst other things, an excellent security system, guarded entrance and exit points and camera surveillance.A pet-friendly lifestyle: Owners may freely keep pets at their home and are permitted to use the estate’s facilities with their pets.A quiet lifestyle: An age restricted or predominately adult only ownership.A sporting lifestyle: These estates have a number of different sporting facilities are available for residents.A ‘lock up and go’ lifestyle: This is a sectional title scheme where the estate management provides garden and pool maintenance services, for example.Holiday lifestyle:These estates attract a large proportion of foreigners or swallows and generally have a full-time occupancy rate of 5% being ‘primary homes’, with the remaining 95% being ‘holiday homes.’
This industry is niche in that it offers a diverse range of estate living options suitable to every lifestyle choice. Living in an estate allows people to truly be able to live their dreams – from golfers, animal lovers and retired couples to young parents simply wanting to be able to let their children grow up in a safe, secure and carefree environment, where they can walk to school and be exposed to an enriched standard of living. The desires and possibilities are certainly plentiful and is what makes this industry so diversely dynamic and a constantly developing one. Overview of property stock: Lightstone’s spatial research team captured boundaries of over 6000 closed communities and estates.This includes many forms of closed communities such as golf, equestrian and polo estates, and coastal lifestyle, country and wildlife estates.There are an estimated 318 000 residential properties in these communities, valued at approximately R 643 billion.This equates to an average value of R 2 million - almost 3 times the national average of R700 000 per home.As expected these homes mainly fall in the luxury market where the average property price in the immediate area is greater than R 1.5 million.Over 50% of these estates are in Gauteng, with a further 25% in the Western Cape.
Originally published on 25 Jul 2015
Residential Estate Industry Journal Volume 2