Wed, 19 Feb 2020

Could there really be about 700 properties up for sale in the affluent, rustic Cape Town southern suburb of Constantia?

Having heard a rumour, Fin24 asked the experts - and the results were unanimous.

All the estate agents working in the area surveyed by Fin24 were of the opinion that 700 was a hugely exaggerated figure. Many pointed to Property24 as a reliable gauge, where the properties listed for sale in the area number around 320.

The agents further note this would include so-called double or multi-listings (by more than one agent) and some vacant plots.

Samantha Nel, Pam Golding Properties' branch manager for Cape Town's Southern Suburbs, says the number of properties listed online may also include some where the mandate has expired and which are no longer for sale, but which have not yet been removed from the portal.

"While we find there is a good selection of stock on the market, we are finding there are still buyers and offers for serious sellers at the right, market-related price," she said.

"Year-on-year, we have seen an increase in the number of properties listed in the area, however, sales are lower than the same period in 2019," said Crispin Inglis, CEO of PropertyFox.

Kevin Jacobs, broker/owner of RE/MAX Premier that operates in the Constantia area, noted that of the 321 properties listed as for sale online, 154 were priced at over R10 million. He explained that properties for sale for over R10 million in the Constantia market take longer to sell.

Furthermore, there are 100 properties in the area that have been on the market for over nine months - most of which are overpriced, in his view, or are vacant land or developments.

He believes there has been an increase in the total number of listings when compared to last year. In his view, this is a result of some high net worth individuals looking to emigrate.

There has also been an increase in the number of sellers looking to downscale or consolidate and there are some who are looking to cash out as a safety precaution should things get worse in South Africa economically or politically.

"The problem at the moment is that there are still a number of properties that are sitting on the market where the seller has an unrealistic price expectation. Buyers are price sensitive and properties that are even slightly overpriced at the moment do not sell," said Jacobs.

"Correctly priced property sells. We are still seeing enquires coming in from foreigners, however, not as many as there were say a year or two ago."

SA average house price growth dips in 2019

Research by Karin van Niekerk, Knight Frank's Constantia agent, shows approximately 12.5% of the properties listed in Constantia are for sale for R5 million or less.

"This market segment is still fairly active as it is a slightly more affordable as far as Constantia property goes," she said.

The majority of the properties listed (about 38%) is in the R5 million to R10 million bracket and about 33% are in the R10 million to R20 million bracket. The remainder are listed for over R20 million, which according to Van Niekerk is always a smaller segment of the market "as these unique properties are in the ultra-luxury market".

"A significant number of owners with large properties are looking to scale down or are subdividing or 'sectionalising' their properties to ease costs," said Van Niekerk.

In her view, there certainly are "more than the normal" the number of properties for sale in Constantia, but it by no means indicates an "entirely desperate situation".

Sales are still happening, but it's just taking a bit longer. Negotiations are tougher and the gap between the asking price and the eventual selling price is bigger, she added.

Steven Holvec, Seeff's agent for Constantia Upper, said for the past two years about between 8% and 10% of the total number of properties in the area were up for sale at any given time.

"We have not noticed a massive increase in listed properties. What we have seen, though, is a drop in sales volume," he said.

"The upside of the down-market conditions, is that it is a fantastic time for buyers as they have a great choice to choose from as well as having the upper hand when it comes to negotiate the price."

Ana Paula, Constantia area specialist for Chas Everitt International, said the number of properties listed for sale in the area could rise somewhat over the next few weeks.

"This is because there is always a surge of new listings at the beginning of the year when people are planning life changes," she said.

"However, the numbers usually drop back again after that as normal sales activity resumes."

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