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Cape Town CBD: Where it all began

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The move to live, work, play lifestyles means the city centre is cosmopolitan, a fabulous place to reside and close to restaurants, theatres and the awesome Company's Garden for picnics.

With rising fuel costs, flexi-time working hours or a move to working from home, and a shift towards a “work, live, play” lifestyle, there is a growing demand to live in, or as close as possible, to the Cape Town CBD.

It is one of the most sought-after areas in the city and continues to be a dynamic property market despite an overall slow-down in the economy, which has now also filtered through to the Cape’s property market.

The reason for its popularity is that it ticks all the boxes when it comes to location and lifestyle, say the Seeff City Bowl team of Alan Screen, JP Ricketts and Warren Emett. These include views of Table Mountain and the harbour and an increasing number of theatres, restaurants, clubs and bars.

The latest Central City Improvement District report shows the cosmopolitan lifestyle is a big driver of the demand for property in the area, just one example being that almost half the residents (surveyed for the report) visit a coffee shop once a week.

“In the past five years the sheer scale of development has been staggering, with the transformation of Bree and Loop streets from no-go areas to the centres of food, drink and artisan shops offering a variety of products catering to every taste and delight,” says Grant Davison, who lives in the CBD.

An Art Deco apartment building facing Greenmarket Square, constructed from sandstone
with an attractive diamond theme design. Picture: Seeff

A key area attracting a high number of millennial buyers – with some 30% of recent buyers being under the age of 35 – the CBD is fast becoming a legal and banking hub in addition to many other services such as auditors, property companies, media and advertising, film and television.

Those who can’t afford to buy in the city turn to renting, which creates an environment for the savvy investor. The CBD, along with the rest of the City Bowl and Atlantic Seaboard, is also attracting foreign buyers looking for a summer home, as well as corporates looking to invest in accommodation for visiting staff.

“The CBD property sector is almost entirely sectional title apartments in a broad mix of styles, from older bachelor pads to trendy updated apartments, lofts and a growing selection of penthouses,” says Emett.

There is a fairly good turnover with almost half of all properties owned for fewer than seven years, says Screen. “The significant investment into the CBD, Foreshore and Waterfront/Silo areas all continue to boost demand here.”

The average selling price is R2.5million (R35.343m²) and has grown by 12.38% year-on-year (compound annual growth) since 2013. It is now effectively 79.24% higher than four years ago.

The three highest prices achieved over the past two years were all concluded last year: R10.7m for 421m² in Mutual Heights, R7.74m for a 168m² unit in De Oude Schuur and R7.5m for a 289m² unit in the Metro building.

“Most CBD buyers are investors looking for strong rental returns, including the ability to do short-term/Airbnb lets, alongside excellent capital growth,” says Ricketts. “With short-term letting, owners can use the unit themselves if need be, which makes it a more attractive proposition.”

The number of buy-to-live is increasing, but buy-to-let investors are by far the biggest buyer contingent.

“It is always a good time to buy in the CBD. That said, we have seen demand slow and more stock being released on to the market, which means buyers have more choice and ultimately sellers may need to be more negotiable.” 

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