Waterfall Country Estate
When buying a home, you are confronted with a plethora of information that demands your attention. Once you have chosen the area in which you would like to live, you must then choose the type of home, be it a small, lock up and go unit or a larger home that requires more maintenance and time.
Further still, you will need to decide whether you want to live in an estate, a complex or a boomed off area, or a house that opens onto the street. For the purposes of this article we are going to focus on exactly this, Urban or Suburban living v/s Estate Living.
At the end of the day it all comes down to lifestyle. What is it that you value so much that it must form part of your everyday life and experience? Is it nature and tranquillity or the hustle and bustle of high rise city life. Do you value privacy, security, convenience, proximity to shops, schools or work? The list is endless and many properties will tick some if not all the boxes that matter to you.
Let’s consider the differences that you would experience when living in a home in a suburb versus living in a home in an estate.
Let’s begin with the big one – Security.
We cannot ignore the importance of security. It is simply a reality that we face and an aspect of home living that South Africans take very seriously. Suburbs do not have the best reputation for secure living. In my opinion, their reputation is worse than their reality, but we cannot ignore the risks that come with living in an unsecured suburb without restricted access. However, home security has come a long way and if you have the budget you can fortify your home against those risks fairly well.
There are areas of risk that one must consider when looking at a potential suburb. Is there restricted access? Is there a properly manned boom with security protocols and registration of visitors? Could the road you live on act as a thoroughfare to traffic during peak hour?
Estate living has a real advantage here. The main benefit is the secure perimeter, access control and the storing of such data should an event occur and an investigation needs to be done. An estate is essentially a collection of private property that cannot be accessed by non-residents without going through a formal security process. Estates usually make use of the latest security monitoring technology to ensure the perimeter is secured, as well as smart access control systems for both residents and visitors to ensure that every individual is identified, and authorised to be within the estate relative to a specific property.
What about proximity to work? Depending on where you work you have a choice to make. Do you brave the traffic and live where you value, or do you plan your work life around your home life? In this instance suburban locations are largely close to Johannesburg CBD and Sandton as these areas have been established for a long time as the central business districts of Johannesburg, and estate living has only really come into play over the last 17 years. However, the new development plans incorporate estate living within the hub. This allows purchasers to live, entertain, work, educate their children and get medical care all within a 5km radius of their home.
As this trend continues and developers focus on creating new lifestyle estates, so too do the developers continue to upgrade the surrounding infrastructure. This means that areas that once could have been considered as being too far out, lacking the proper roads and routes to get you to work on time, enjoy a transformation of the immediate road networks that benefit and give credence to the establishment of a residential estate. Thanks to these infrastructural upgrades that help to ease congestion, we see a fast uptake in the market of people wanting their piece of peace and tranquility without sacrificing the efficiency of city living.
The next consideration is finances. Property is a sort after investment so aside from living where you want, it is important to buy where your investment is secured and will grow. On the suburban side of this debate it goes without saying that it depends which suburb you are looking at. For instance, if you bought in Kew in the late 80’s, you will have enjoyed a fairly fast ride to the bottom of your property’s value. In stark contrast to this, had you purchased in an estate 15 years ago, chances are your property has at least doubled in value.
As far as property investment goes, estates offer a less temperamental cycle. Due to the fact that a particular estates growth is limited (there are only so many stands therefore supply is limited), you immediately benefit from the natural supply and demand economics that will push your property price up. There is also the benefit of having other invested parties and residents in your estate that run the Home Owners Association (HOA) who look after the estate as a whole. A well-run estate adds exponential value to your property as people will buy into the estate, not just the bricks and mortar but the facilities and amenities that the estate offers and constantly improves on. The security aspect also ensures the maintained value of your property.
In short, your money is certainly safer in an estate as you benefit from a predictable rise in value over time.
While we are on the topic of money, lets talk about investment property and buying a home to rent out. A unit or freestanding home within an estate will firstly increase in value more than a home within a residential suburb, due to the fact that your rental pool then also increases as expats are only approved to rent from a house/ unit within a secure estate. As a result of this, you can include corporate rental opportunities to your marketing outflow.
Let’s talk more about the benefits of a HOA in the mix of things. In an HOA you have a group of residents with a common goal and a vested interest in running the estate. The importance of this, and the value it creates for your investment cannot be understated. Additionally, the developer of the estate remains on the board of the HOA and keeps the development side of things in check. In short you have residents in control and making decisions, and you have a professional team running the estate and making sure the estate is a well-run one. You cannot quantify the benefit to your property value that this brings! Compared to a street that is maintained (or not) by the Government, an estate is a far easier option for any potential homeowner. Most residents in suburbs will be forced to maintain their pavements themselves, which is both costly and time consuming. Furthermore, if this is not done, or not done properly, it will have a negative effect on the property’s value.
Estates however benefit from a well-run HOA, as well as the latest technology and knowledge of the traffic, so infrastructure such as gas, fibre to the home, and towers are accounted for in the beginning of the project and are designed to be under ground and aesthetically pleasing. Road designs are generally wider and designed for the latest rain falls, as well as weights of vehicles, also accommodating walking and cycling paths. Old Suburban areas were designed before the major influx of people and new technology, so fibre to the home is still to be installed, the roads cannot take the traffic and telephone poles are still very visible.
Suburban living requires that you create your lifestyle within your boundary walls. Despite the fact that the stand might be big enough to have its own tennis court, and large play area, the other facilities and amenities are then sourced by means of the local gym or sports centres most of which would require a car ride in order to get there, they are not free, and you also lose the community aspect of living within an estate, meaning you don’t benefit from major community events, and you have a lesser chance of knowing your neighbours.
In an estate, living outside of your home takes the form of parks, trails, clubhouses and sports facilities all of which are safe, and within walking distance. The lifestyle is generally more geared towards the active outdoors side of life and is for those that value ease of entertainment, outdoor life and exercise.
The facilities of an estate also go a long way in building a strong sense of community as they create an environment where neighbours communicate, collaborate and share the spaces provided to them. This reinforces a positive and happy environment where residents feel at home in their estate alongside their friends and neighbours.
Always remember when making your decision of where to live that you should start with your values and what is important to you. You must always consider what boxes you want ticked FIRST, because without spending time thinking about these prerequisites, you will not be equipped with the knowledge you need to make the right call for you.
Once you know exactly what you need, remember this comparison and make your choice… GOOD LUCK and HAPPY HOUSE HUNTING!