International News

Survey drives home need for higher density living in South Africa

Absa Homeowner Insights report predicts that SA may reach a point where full title properties could become a luxury, and where free-standing houses close to major metros become the exception rather than the rule.

The report shows that South Africans are steadily embracing higher density living, with respondents expressing a level of demand for high density living that exceeds the supply of property stock.

The prediction is driven by the fact that scarcity of land around major metropolitan areas is becoming more pronounced as cities expand, urbanisation speeds up and transport infrastructure lags.

The Absa Homeowner Insights report delves into consumer experiences during the different phases of home ownership.

It shows that South African cities are still far away from the levels of urbanisation and densification experienced in the UK and Europe.

Yet, while full title properties remain the most attractive, the report finds that South Africans are steadily embracing higher density living.

Upon delving a little deeper, it becomes apparent that property needs differ vastly according to life stage.

Feedback from respondents indicates that most families are still more drawn towards owning suburban, full title properties.

Young independent singles show the highest relative acceptance for flats, while young and recently married couples prefer townhouses and cluster homes.

After the unanimous preference for properties to be full title among all groups of respondents, the physical size of the house and kitchen are rated as the second and third most important factors when considering buying a property.

The size of the garden stands out as a key consideration for families, who are looking for larger living areas and use the outdoors more than the other groups in the survey.

Single parent families have the largest attraction to sectional title properties, which offer a lower maintenance burden and more affordable running costs.

Young couples show a stronger preference than any other group title units. Should this trend continue, the report says full title for pet-friendly homes.

In 1960, 46.6% of the population lived in urban areas, but last year that figure stood at 64.3%. In the last 20 years, flats and townhouses have made up 26.6% of new buildings.

In the last three years, 63% of all residential development units financed by Absa were sectional title. Central business districts properties are expected to become more attractive to convert to higher density developments while free standing houses are expected to become more expensive.

An international study, The Business of Cities, which tracked reurbanisation — the steady return of people from suburbs to districts — found that many residents of big, traffic-clogged cities realised they could spend more time with their families and have a better quality of life by moving back into the city from the suburbs.

Globally, the property needs of consumers are evolving at a rapid rate. Cultural globalisation, accelerated by a massive influx of foreign buyers in prime central locations, has helped spark new urban lifestyles and property trends that are reshaping the nature of property around the globe.

The way Londoners live, for example, is continuously evolving, influenced by lifestyles that prioritise work and socialising.

Lateral living, where a home spreads across a single storey rather than vertically across several, is becoming more widespread as growing numbers of buyers see the benefit of living on one floor.

As a result, open-plan living and lateral spaces are a desired shift away from enclosed rooms.

Londoners also entertain at home less frequently than people in many other cities.

Some 90% of respondents to Absa Homeowner Insights say they would seriously consider buying a full title property, while 64% would consider a cluster or townhouse while 45% would consider buying a flat.

Investors and developers think differently about property than first-time and other buyers.

They are likely to consider flats and more are drawn towards townhouses and clusters than individuals buying for primary residential purposes.

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