SA Golf Estates - Ultimate lifestyle or inconvenient eco embarrassment?

Is golf estate living all it's cracked up to be?

Many would argue that golf estates offer a trophy property second to none. Our cities are becoming more densely populated because of a shortage of serviced land, which makes open spaces and clean air a privilege for the fortunate few. Golf estates offer beautiful landscaped gardens, complemented by picturesque walkways and picnic sites, now more of a rarity than ever before.

Some research into overseas markets reveal that such estates are common place there too. These prestigious estates are sough after by golf-playing families. In South Africa, however, these estates are often more popular for the security they offer than for the game of golf itself. Crime has deterred many homeowners from freehold properties and has encouraged them to purchase property in secure complexes. Such properties are popular because of the security they offer, or are perceived to offer. But at the same time, the purchaser is often forced to compromise on living and garden space when choosing such an option. Golf estates, on the other hand, offer 24-hour security systems and guard-patrolled electric fencing. In addition, they afford home-owners the luxury of space.

Space is not all residents get. Many owners say they most enjoy the traditional family lifestyle offered by golf-estate living. Knowing your neghbours, and letting your kids ride their bikes and play by the river, while you enjoy a round of Sunday golf, are the lifestyle benefits many of our country's most affluent find too difficult to resist.

And the price range to afford such a lifestyle? According to Sold Property Index, the average freehold property price in Johannesburg's prestigious Dainfern for the last six months is R3 988 000.

This compares favourably to last year's R3 537 000 and represents a significant increase of 12.57% per annum. For Jo'burgers thinking of a holiday home in Mount Edgecombe Estate on KwaZulu-Natal's sought-after North Coast, the average price is R3 378 000, compared to last year's R3 111 000. This represents an increase of 8.6%. These returns are higher than the national average for properties in this price range and perhaps prove that estate living can also provide lucrative returns for investors.

Of course, within the estate, position determines value. One property with riverside frontage in Dainfern is currently on the market for R6 200 000. With four bedrooms and a guest suite, the home offers privacy and seclusion. Another property is aptly described by the agent as a renovator's dream, but owing to its prime positioning and views overlooking three fairways, carries a price tag of R4.5m. In Mount Edgecombe Estate 2, a regal four-bedroomed family home with desinger finishes and pleasant views is available at R10 900 000, while more entry level homes are available in the mid-R2m price bracket.

At such prices, one would expect purchasers to have every amenity at their doorstep. The disadvantage of estate living, however, is that the estates are often located far from central business districts and major arterial routes. This means that purchasers spend much time getting their children to school and themselves to work. Dainfern Estate is located north of Johannesburg and residents will have to face heavy traffic congestion getting to prime CBD areas such as Sandton and Rosebank. Mount Edgecombe is located close to the rapidly developing Umhlanga Ridge CBD and the new La Mercy Airport. The enormous Gateway Mall caters for every shopper's desire. One has to wonder, however, whether a holiday purchaser with this much to spend would settle here as opposed to a property within walking distance of the beach. It all comes down to compromise and personal preference.

Many developers have accommodated the purchaser's desire to be close to amenities by offering these facilities on site. Coffee shops, creche's, grocery stores and now even schools are being included in the offering. This means that residents can live and play in the estate without a daily commute. But what about getting to work and visiting family and friends who do not live on the estate?

Then, of course, there is the eco-aspect. golf estates use vast amounts of water in keeping the fairways lush and well irrigated. Buyers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and homes that are more "green" seem to sell quicker and often at a premium price. Buying is a decision, after all, driven by emotion and easily swayed by eco-friendly elements.

It will be interesting to note any changes in purchasing behaviour as the green trend continues. Residents could start to use grey water such as bathwater for their garden irrigation and to collect rain. Already buyers are being swayed by solar heating and energy-saving light bulbs. There is also the concern over higher water tariffs, which look set to increase substantially. One wonders whether purchasers in this price range will consider this cost in their purchasing decision.

Regardless, golf estates look set to remain. Offering high status for the well-to-do and a secure, quality lifestyle for families, developers need to focus on securing centrally located land and offer extra lifestyle benefits for this discerning purchaser. And innovative ways to go green will be more important than ever before.

*Lance Levitas is an experienced property investor. He lectures university students and presents property seminars. He graduated with a degree in finance and marketing, and completed postgraduate studies in real estate portfolio management. He lives in Johannesburg. You may email him at [email protected].

Source: Cover page and main article picture supplied with compliments of Pezula Resort and Spa

Courtesy: Agent – The Official Publication of the Estate Agency Affairs Board

“Redressing the Past, Building the Future and Guiding the Real Estate Business towards Professionalism”

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