PROPERTY: Expats Fuel Rentals Across Cape Town
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In the face of high interest rates and stricter than ever lending conditions at the country’s banks, many would-be first-time homeowners are finding it difficult to enter the market at present. The result is an upswing in rental activity across Cape Town, says Pam Golding Properties’ Western Cape Rentals Director, Dexter Leite. He says there has been a surge in activity across all areas and price ranges – fuelled not only by those who can’t afford to buy, but also by the number of expatriates returning home to South Africa.
“Right now we are seeing high demand in all of the traditionally popular areas, such as the Southern Suburbs and Atlantic Seaboard,” says Leite, “as well as in the Northern Suburbs and the Blouberg region. The City Bowl has also seen high levels of rental activity, as more and more people seek to avoid the cost and frustration of commuting and traffic congestion, by living close to their places of work. Historically, these popular areas have always been short of rental properties, and this has not changed for those properties which fall within the sought-after parameters, such as modern two-bedroomed apartments or three bedroomed homes which are appropriately priced. Our Western Cape rentals branches concluded more than 150 lets in December 2008 and in excess of 100 in January 2009, and we have continued to experience very high levels of activity into February.”
Among those fuelling the demand for rentals are the returning expatriates who are coming home after spending a few years overseas. For them, says Leite, letting can be a very sensible option, especially upon their immediate return. “Many of these people have been out of the country for an extended period, “ he says, “and during their time away, their specific needs may have changed quite substantially – for example, their financial status, their marital status, and their employer. They may also find that the cities they lived in before have changed substantially, with new infrastructure affecting commuting options, or new business hubs having developed where they might want to work. For these returning expatriates, it can be most beneficial to first rent for a short term, while they assess what their new needs are, consider different suburbs where they might wish to settle, and get a feel for commuting times. Renting provides them with the flexibility to make these decisions without pressure. It also allows them to focus on finding their feet and re-establishing themselves in South Africa, without having to worry about homeowners’ responsibilities such as maintenance, a mortgage, insurance, rates and taxes.”
A further emerging trend is for retired visitors from Europe and the UK to come and spend an extended period in South Africa – a year or sometimes more. Some of them are renting whilst considering the possibility of settling here permanently, says Leite, while others are simply here for an extended holiday. With exchange rates working in favour of those with foreign currency, there are many opportunities for them to rent high-end properties in prime locations such as on the Atlantic Seaboard.
Leite adds that PGP continues to see particularly high levels of activity at the top end of the rental market, mainly in the more exclusive areas of the Southern Suburbs and Atlantic Seaboard, where clients are seeking properties that support and epitomise a secure lifestyle, with all the benefits that an up-market property in an exclusive suburb can offer. Rentals here can range from R30 000 per month to R80 000 per month – or even more, in isolated cases. In the period from November 2008 to February 2009, PGP agents have concluded lease agreements of R65 000 and R120 000 per month for houses in Bantry Bay, R25 000 per day for a house in Bishopscourt (on a holiday /short term let basis) and R70 000 per month for another house in the same suburb. We have also recently concluded a R115 000 per month lease in Bishopscourt on a short let basis. The company has further let homes in Camps Bay for R36 000 and R28 000 per month, and a Constantia property for R50 000 per month. Also notable were leases in the City Bowl for R35 000 and R32 000 per month, and R15 000 and R16 000 in the Northern Suburbs – particularly high for this area. The market for apartments is also strong, with PGP agents achieving rentals of R75 000 and R23 000 per month for units in the Waterfront, and R20 000 per month for an apartment in Mandela Rhodes Place in the Central City.
PGP’s rental division employs 14 dedicated agents and 21 support staff, ensuring that they can not only match the ideal property and tenant, but can also effectively administer all leases, including those held on a managed rental agreement. The group has rental offices in the Southern and Northern suburbs, whilst dedicated rental agents also work out of the PGP offices in Fish Hoek, Hout Bay, City Bowl, Sea Point, Camps Bay, Blouberg, and Langebaan.
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