South Africa is home to an ever-increasing number of beautiful residential estates, each offering an unparalleled quality of life. If you’re considering buying a property in one, there are several things you should check before making your final decision.
Here are the top five things buyers should consider when moving into a South African residential estate:
1. Management style and rules
First impressions are usually the correct assumption of how the body corporate or HOA is being run says Cobus Odendaal, Chief Executive Officer at Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Johannesburg and Randburg.
‘Potential buyers should be looking at whether the complex is being neglected and in need of maintenance. If it is, it is very possible that a special levy will be introduced to fix things like damp or painting of the exterior. Savvy buyers will realise that on top of the standard levies, owners are already paying, this can become costly,’ he says.
Jenna van Riel of Tyson Properties Winelands in the Western Cape goes on to say that buyers should also find out what the current levy covers, and whether it is realistic.
‘At Val de Vie in Cape Town, for example, the levy is approximately R4,500 per month and this gives homeowners access to all the amenities and facilities on the estate, excluding Golf membership. It also includes maintenance of common areas and security, and when you take this into account, the levy is very fair for what homeowners receive in return. Other estates have the same levy fee but do not have half the facilities so it’s important to do your homework here,’ she adds.
From a rules perspective, some estates are stricter rules than others, and not everyone wants factors like the variety of plants in their garden dictated to them. Odendaal suggests that before making a final decision, get your hands on a copy of the regulations for the estates in which you’re interested in and go through these carefully.
‘This is especially important for things like short-term rentals as some estates like La Petite Provence in Franschhoek require a minimum let of three months. They also do not allow rentals via Airbnb or similar platforms which can be a hindrance for investor buyers,’ says van Riel.
Security is one of the most important issues in the running of a residential estate and the better this is being monitored and managed, the better the reputation the complex has and the quicker properties will be sold.
‘An unmanned security desk, lack of perimeter fencing and cameras, etc., could be a real turn-off. Buyers should assess the security measures in place, and also check what improvements are planned for the future,’ says Odendaal.
If you are buying in a new development, everything will be fresh and new with none of the wear-and-tear of a previously lived-in property, so no major maintenance, refurbishments or repairs are likely to be necessary for the next three to five years. However, Odendaal warns that the infrastructure may not be fully developed, and gardens and communal spaces might be quite barren.
In established estates developed infrastructures, amenities, home gardens, and communal green spaces are likely to be well-formed and there is little risk of having to endure the disruption of ongoing construction. At most the odd renovation might cause a minor inconvenience.
‘It is also worth checking whether there Is there further planned development on land adjacent to the estate as this can be very disruptive, especially if there will be endless construction and noise nearby,’ says van Riel.
Some have all the bells and whistles, including clubhouses, restaurants, golf courses, sports facilities, and even schools and shopping centres.
‘Again, this comes down to the levy and knowing exactly how it is calculated, what it includes, and how it is spent. As a rule of thumb, the better the amenities and the more established and better maintained the communal areas, the higher the levies will be,’ says Odendaal.
New buyers should also check which of the facilities are available for non-residents and which are for the sole use of homeowners.
5. Financials and capital reserves
Prospective buyers must check that the financials of the estate are up to date and have been audited correctly.
‘Ideally, you want to see a positive balance in the pot as this means that there is enough money to pay for any unforeseen problems. A good indication that an estate is financially well managed is checking to see how timeously levies are being collected and what happens to those owners who make late payments,’ says Odendaal.
Van Riel also adds that buyers should check how much the estate is paying for water each month as estates in metro areas tend to have much higher rates than those in non-metro areas due to municipal rates.
There are a lot of big things to check before you buy into an estate. If you cut corners you may be making a costly mistake.
This article was written by the EstateMate in house media team. We are a tech passionate group of people driven by our love to revolutionize the Property Tech space.