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COST SAVERS: Sharing a home is increasing in Cape Town

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More young professionals are now choosing to live in shared premises and for longer periods

Hollywood sitcoms such as Friends, New Girl and The Big Bang Theory, where young professionals share apartments, have always glamorised the 30-something American lifestyle.

Now it appears this particular co-habiting trend is being adopted more frequently in the Western Cape. Multi-generational living – where different generations of the same family live together – has been a growing trend in South Africa, and globally, for years. But in most cases the property is owned by one of the family members.

What is now emerging is a similar trend in the rental market, agents say. Statistics and property experts have revealed that the average age of tenants, as well as the tendency for South Africans to rent, are increasing.

HouseMe, a digital rental platform that connects tenants and landlords, has let properties to as many 33-year-olds as 23-year olds over the past 12 months, says chief executive Ben Shaw. “Young professionals now live with other tenants for a lot longer, and although a year ago this might have been economically motivated, it is as likely to be a choice as a forced economic decision.”

The average age of HouseMe tenants is 35, he says. On the Western Seaboard, agents are also seeing a trend where friends and some family members “club together and become house mates”, says Marlene Snowdon, co-founder and principal of the area’s Century 21 branch.

Avoiding traffic congestion is a consideration when seeking a rental. Picture: Supplied

“They then get bigger properties and just share a bathroom or two.” Dogon Group Properties is seeing a diverse mix of people needing rentals, says Odette Maartens, manager of the rentals division. 

This includes:

  • Young professionals – some from Joburg on a year-long contract.
  • Students who need to complete the final year of their degrees at one of the city’s universities.
  • Overseas professionals on corporate contracts.
  • Families relocating to Cape Town. 

Affluent families are also forgoing buying homes in the R4 million range and, instead, renting such houses for much lower rents than they would pay for a bond, Snowdon says. 

From golf estates to beachfront villas, Cape Town residents are looking for it all. “We are still getting rentals coming through for the estates, but demand far outstrips the supply.” Families are opting for larger homes close to good schools, and this is why the southern suburbs have become increasingly popular, Maarten says.

“We’re finding that rentals up to R30 000 a month are moving fast. Above that, the rentals are not being snapped up as in previous years.” The southern suburbs are second on the list of the most in-demand areas, with the Atlantic Seaboard topping them.

However, because not many people can afford to live here, more inquiries are being received for properties in the Blouberg area and surrounds, Maartens says.

Western Seaboard: Glut of properties

Landlords had to lower rentals to get tenants. Picture: Pixels

Renters on the Western Seaboard are shopping around more as the “glut of properties” available exceeds even the strong demand for them, says Century 21’s Marlene Snowdon.

As for the prices they are willing to pay, she says there has been a switch in the past month back to the average prices of R16 000 to R20 000. “We had a rough patch where the landlords were dropping at least 30% to 35% of their value just to get a tenant. We battle to find any rental properties under R10 000.”

Dogon Properties’ Odette Maartens says: “A large number of our landlords were requesting excessive rentals, but were forced to be more realistic as properties were not moving.”

The average range tenants are willing to pay is R15 000 to R30 000. Properties in this range also make up the bulk of the agency’s long-term rental agreements. In the Western Cape generally, most HouseMe’s properties demand a rent of between R7 000 and R9 000, says the company’s Ben Shaw. There has been an upward trend in average rents since 2016, with a dip in July and August this year. 


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