PROPERTY NEWS - Durban's Berea area and its satellite suburbs have become some of the most sought after residential accommodation in KwaZulu-Natal, says Craig Allsopp, the Rawson Property Group's franchisee for Durban Glenwood, which for his team includes Musgrave, Glenwood, Morningside, Bulwer, Umbilo and Overport as well as a number of smaller precincts.
However, says Allsopp, despite the continuous influx of people into the area and a huge rise in rentals (he estimates it at ± 30% year-on-year) and a big increase in sales turnover (in his franchise by 45%) sale prices have as yet not risen noticeably.
"The great advantage of this area," says Allsopp, "is that it provides a huge variety of accommodation and housing - from bachelor units priced as low as R260,000 in, for example, Umbilo to five bedroom homes in the R7 million to R10 million price bracket in Morningside."
As is the case in many high density areas on the periphery of a lively CBD, the strongest demand is now for units below R1 million, especially those priced at ± R700,000, but because of the wide variety available, once potential buyers or tenants comes onto his books, says Allsopp, it is usually possible to meet their needs, despite a growing shortage of stock.
"What has helped considerably in this respect," says Allsopp, "has been the improved ability among many estate agents, including my own, to help potential buyers new to the property scene to submit their bond applications in such a way that they are more realistic and are likely to have a far better chance of success. Using our in-house bond origination division, Rawson Finance, has made it a lot easier to work out what our clients can actually afford."
At his franchise, he says, the improvement in this respect has resulted in a 70 to 75% success rate.
The current high demand is, says Allsopp, almost certain to continue well into 2015 and probably before long to result in significant price increases. Durban property prices are still very cheap when compared to the rest of South Africa.
"The perennial estate agents' cry, 'Buy now or regret not doing so later'," he says, "is now particularly valid."
"The best time to upgrade is when the property market switches from buyers' market to sellers' market.”