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Technology aids Toti buyers

16 Jan 2008
Buyers from the UK, Scandinavia and other cold climes are a recognised and growing presence in the Amanzimtoti real estate market.

And while their interest in "sunny" South Africa is year-round, Charles Alterskye, principal of Acutts Toti Coastal, reports a visible increase in Internet enquiries to his office from prospective foreign buyers in recent weeks.

A large number of these are coming from people who, confined to lengthy periods indoors as a result of Europe's icy winters, spend hours on their computers and have accordingly developed a culture of shopping over the Internet.

"It seems to be a natural progression for them to move from shopping for groceries, clothes and vehicles on the Web to property," he says.

"The Internet has become a powerful third force in the global sales arena. In South Africa, technology-driven estate agencies are experiencing its benefits first-hand by being on the receiving end of a steady stream of electronic enquiries from people yearning for the sun."

Having "discovered" South Africa, and in particular its iconic city Cape Town, these long-distance browsers then explore its coastline thoroughly via the internet, he continues. "We're finding a growing tendency for them to stop at Amanzimtoti, which satisfies most of their requirements with its 14km coastline, proximity to a major city and access to golf courses and nature reserves, as well as its relatively low pricing base."

While the majority visits the area in person prior to purchasing, one of his agency's most recent sales to a foreigner was concluded sight unseen – to a UK resident who has never set foot in it. He adds that while December is traditionally a quiet time for local buyers in the area, any slump is likely to be compensated for by the growing number of enquiries his office is receiving from foreign buyers wanting accommodation in a lush, tropical environment.

Complimenting these purchasers are expatriates who live and work overseas, as well as a "new breed of overseas buyer who is not merely an international investor but someone who also views the property as an opportunity for them to spend time in a warm climate", he observes.

"We're finding that more and more of these people are moving away from traditional tourist destinations such as the USA and Spain, put off by the ever-present threat of international terrorism."

Amanzimtoti also has a strong presence of buy-to-let investors who are turning away from volumes and becoming more selective. Many, recognising the "human phenomenon of wanting to live near water", are accordingly focusing on coastal acquisitions, although this doesn't necessarily mean right on the beach. A block or two away and within walking distance is very acceptable, he says.

"South African buy-to-let investors have elevated themselves into another era of buyer in recent years, one who can recognise and successfully pursue an avenue for good solid investment."

End-user buying is also healthy, fueled by good employment prospects in the thriving industrial node adjacent to Amanzimtoti. This node boasts a number of major industries including Toyota, SAPREF and South African Breweries, which are in turn supported by numerous peripheral industries.

Growth in this sector is bringing new home buyers into the area, says Alterskye, who notes that property in Amanzimtoti costs "fewer rands per square metre than in luxury locales" such as the Outer West or Durban North. "The issue of affordability is biting and hampering people's ability to buy in the expensive areas."

Comprising five main suburbs, which include Kingsburgh, Warner Beach, Athlone Park, Amanzimtoti and Illovo Beach, the coastal town has benefited enormously from becoming part of Durban Unicity, yet it has lost little of its village appeal. "This, along with its successful community policing initiative, is luring newcomers from all over South Africa and the world."

Demand for homes under R1m is high, and take-up remains strong up to the R1,35m mark. Executive sea-fronting homes, which average around R4,5m, tend to move more slowly but land is showing both healthy movement and excellent capital growth, he says. This is evidenced by the sale of a 45,000sq m plot bought for R380,000 approximately four years ago and recently sold to a developer for R4m.

He says Apartment buyers are particularly well catered for in Amanzimtoti, which boasts around 3,000 sectional title units ranging widely in price, style and size. "A lot of apartments, many of which had very good floor plans to start with, have now been renovated, which has added immensely to their appeal and value."

Entry level pricing is around R550k which will buy a two-bedroom flat with lock-up garaging and within walking distance of the beach. R850k to R900k gets an apartment within 200m of the beach, while units at the edge of the ocean cost R950k and upwards.

For more information contact Charles Alterskye on 031 904 1238.

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  • South Coast packs 'em in.

  • Amanzimtoti prospects are good.

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