In demand, eco-estates offer a respite from the pandemic

Estate living is one of the fastest-growing property trends, further accelerated by the Covid Pandemic, says Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff Property Group.

He says the confines of city living have been compounded by the restriction on physical movement. The result has been a trend in the housing market of an increasing number of buyers looking to escape to homes where they can enjoy the freedom of movement, yet still, adhere to vital Covid health and safety protocols.

The Pandemic is driving a strong desire to get out of the house and where better than in an environment with tranquil surroundings where you can walk, cycle and children can play in healthy surroundings.

While there are plenty of estates around offering security, buyers want more and are often prepared to pay a premium for a home in an estate with exceptional amenities, he says. Lightstone data for example shows that some of the highest prices paid for homes are in estates, especially in urban areas.

Eco-estates are one category that offers great appeal to those looking for a better living and work-from-home environment. It is not just about security, but healthy living. Aside from offering a more sustainable lifestyle, eco-estates contribute to preserving the natural environment and conserving indigenous wildlife and vegetation. It also encourages the use of sustainable construction and materials.

Technological advancement and rapid adoption of technologies mean you can now work from just about anywhere, says Seeff. Most eco-estates offer great accessibility making commuting easy. They are not necessarily remote and often within easy reach of schools and facilities offering a sanctuary close to urban areas.

Seeff takes a look at five popular eco-estates, being Simbithi, Pezula, Boskloof, Meyersdal and Thorny Bush.

Simbithi Eco Estate, Shaka’s Rock

The 430ha estate is a coastal paradise of vegetation, wetlands, undulating hills, stunning vistas and outstanding amenities. These include community centres, swimming pools, a country club with a conference venue and wine cellar, gymnasium, floodlit tennis courts, golf course, Pro Shop and sport and children’s facilities. There are dams stocked with fish, a world-class Equestrian Centre and well-maintained walking and mountain bike trails.

Graham White, managing director for Seeff North Coast says the estate benefits from its location on the KZN North Coast, the fastest growing area in the country. It is 20-minutes from the airport and 45-minutes from Durban thus offering an ideal base for residential and second home buyers. It is also popular for rentals.

Another benefit is that it offers a choice of property options, from spacious plots to stand-alone sectional title units and apartments. Lightstone data shows that where Ballito boasts an average freehold price of around R3 million, the comparative price for Simbithi is around R6m to R6,5m. Prices range from around R2,3 million with the highest price achieved at R23 million although some listings range to about R35 million.

Pezula Private Estate, Knysna

Bordered by Noetzie Beach, Pezula is one of the best environmentally aware luxury developments in the world, offering a beautiful location and 5-star facilities such as a top golf course and club, tennis courts, sports grounds and the Pezula Hotel and Spa, says Gail Rimbault, licensee for Seeff Knysna.

It is one of the lowest density estates with just 15% developed. Plot sizes are generous at between 3,000sqm to 33,000sqm and the 255 residential sites are spread over 612 hectares and a nearly 4 kilometres rugged coastline.

Lightstone data shows that Pezula is one of the top estates on the Garden Route with a median price of R8,65 million although prices range to about R55 million for a top-end investment home.

Boskloof Eco Estate, Somerset West

Somerset West is popular for its country lifestyle and proximity to the airport and Cape Town and is sought-after for residential and second homes including buyers looking to capitalise on the new remote working trend, says Dinis Martins, licensee for Seeff Somerset West.

The Boskloof Eco Estate located adjacent to the Morgenster and Vergelegen wine farms offer spectacular views and a secure lifestyle amidst unspoilt and protected fynbos and endangered Renosterveld and free-roaming small buck and other animals and a wealth of bird species. There are also walking and cycling trails and a small dam for fishing.

Although there are about 73 properties on the estate. Lightstone data shows that the estate boasts a median price of R7,1m. Properties though seldom come onto the market, says Derek Grobler who is marketing the most expensive property at R26 million.

Meyersdal Eco Estate, Meyersdal

The Meyersdal Eco Estate which forms part of the 1,100ha Meyersdal Nature Estate is just 10-minutes south of the Johannesburg CBD offering excellent accessibility according to Frans van Staden, licensee for Seeff Meyersdal.

Prices range from around R6 million and R26 million in the low-density estate with less than 15% of the land developed. Facilities include 16km mountain bike tracks, a 7km hiking trail, dams stocked with fish, game species including kudu and steenbok and many bird species.

Thorny Bush Estate , Mokopane

Thorny Bush is located on the border of the town and boasts a vibrant community of permanent residents. It is also great for retirees given the access to extensive medical facilities with a private hospital to be constructed soon.

It is also ideal as a second home and great for remote working as it is just two hours from Pretoria and Johannesburg, says Christine McGrath, licensee for Seeff Mokopane. From an investment perspective, there is also a strong rental demand supported by the ever-expanding mining sector in the region where contractors and professionals are often needing 2 to 4 year residential options.  The region boasts the largest open cast platinum mine in the world owned Anglo Platinum, as well as mines owned by international players such as Ivanhoe.

The estate sits within 160ha of prime bushveld with free-roaming antelope like Nyala, Impala and Springbok and offers stunning vistas of the Waterberg Mountain range. Facilities include the 18-hole Kameeldoring golf course and club house with two squash courts and residents have access to the town’s sport clubs including soccer, rugby, tennis and bowls.

Properties are sold as freehold erven. Owners can build their own home designs but must keep to the architectural guidelines of the estate, she says. Stands range in size from 600 sqm to 4,000 sqm and are priced from R500,000 to R1,2 million.