18 Jun 2013
This is according to Barbara Becker, area principal for Pam Golding Properties in the KZN Midlands region, who says the top private schools and tranquil ambience are also a contributing factor.
Incorporating towns such as Howick, Nottingham Road, Balgowan, Dargle, Rosetta, Hilton and Lidgetton, among others, the KZN Midlands is home to the Midlands Meander tourist attraction, with a diversity of arts and crafts, adventure sports and wildlife conservation, as well as the Howick Falls. The Midlands also has Abingdon Wine Estate, Kleinbosch Wine Estate and Highgate Wine Estate.
Becker says people who have retired from a farming life love the KZN Midlands, and many Pietermaritzburg retirees have relocated to retirement villages in Howick as they enjoy the country atmosphere and quality facilities available. "We are marketing sectional title homes in three retirement villages in Howick – Amber Field, Amber Glen and Amber Valley," she says. They range from 95 to 269 square metre homes with two or three bedrooms, two bathrooms and garaging – some with study and guest suite, with asking prices mainly between R880 000 and R3.3 million.
However, she says buyers need to bear in mind that prices in the three Ambers differ due to availability of facilities, the different ages of the villages, improvements and extras offered by the units and their position in the village. Additionally, prices are often determined by the sellers. Each Amber has a frail care unit, hair dressing salon and library, while Amber Glen has an indoor, heated swimming pool, dam for fishing and a chapel. Amber Valley has a community centre offering meals, function rooms for hire, snooker room, chapel, coffee shop, pub, two indoor heated swimming pools, tennis courts, bowling green and a number of dams for fishing.
Pam Golding Properties also markets homes in Eagle Ridge Estate, and although it is not a registered retirement village, the sectional title development is favoured by retirees. Any age group may purchase homes in the complex, which includes a well appointed club house, and prices of units range from R875 000 to R1.6 million for 114 to 120 square metre homes, each with two bedrooms and in various configurations.
Becker says they are finding strong interest for homes among young families, as the schools are a huge draw card, with well respected and prestigious schools in Pietermaritzburg, Hilton, Howick and Nottingham Road. Top private schools include Hilton College, Michaelhouse, St Anne’s Diocesan College and Clifton Preparatory School, while public schools include Maritzburg College, Pietermaritzburg Girls High School, Merchiston Preparatory School and Carter High School. The Midlands Mall in Pietermaritzburg is also easily accessible.
She says a younger generation of home buyers are moving into the Midlands, including those in their thirties. InPietermaritzburg they find mainly 35 to 50 year old buyers in the price bracket from R1.2 million to R1.9 million, with an older purchaser buying in the same price range in Hilton. In Howick buyers are mostly in the R800 000 to R1.1 million price range and mainly in the 50-plus age group, while in Nottingham Road home buyers are families with children attending schools in the Midlands, who are acquiring homes priced from approximately R1.95 million upwards. She says the most popular homes are immaculate ‘move in and live’ properties, and large gardens don’t appear to be as popular as before, most likely as people are seeking convenience as they lead busy lifestyles. "We are also finding that security is high on buyers’ priority list.”
Gated estates in the Nottingham Road area are popular among permanent residents and those looking for a second home in the Midlands, Garlington and Victoria Country Club Estate are sought after developments in the Pietermaritzburg and Hilton areas. Intaba Ridge Private Game Estate is popular for the lifestyle it offers. Prices of homes in these developments range from around R1.8 million to R6.9 million.
Becker says buying opportunities are available and offer good value for money, saying they have had some ‘good buys’ in the upper price range and in prestigious areas. A sale of an 800 square metre home in Wembley for R2.5 million is an example, as it has five bedrooms, four of which are very spacious. For investors, seeking a property for resale in the shorter term, properties priced under R1.5 million and near schools are recommended. She says they are seeing a gradual return of buy-to-let investors, mainly for flats in the R500 000 price range, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, garage or carport plus an extra parking bay.
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