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Robot home help, AI and more communal living coming our way

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Developers and investors “will be forced to consider the growing smart home robotics sector.

Twenty years from now, the South African property landscape is going to be more built-up and people with large pieces of land will sub-divide as a way to generate rental income or make for multi-generational living, predicts Knight Frank chief executive, Richard Hardie. 

There will also have been a growth in green building. “The reason we are not seeing it at the moment is because it is expensive, but in the next 10 years we will see more and more waterwise  (and other such sustainable features) homes.”

In addition, for those at the upper-end of the property spectrum, architecture will become more extreme. “But at the same time there is a drive towards simplicity,” Hardie says.

Looking ahead to around 2030, Yael Geffen, chief executive of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says an increase in the number of modular homes will be seen. “You can even get container homes that are completely secure and can be left for months.”

Furthermore, developers and investors “will be forced to consider the growing smart home robotics sector which includes features and appliances like vacuum cleaners and mobile assistant robots”.

“This will require spaces to be more openplan with fewer stairs and floor finishes which are conducive to wheels,” Geffen says. Denise Dogon, chief executive of Dogon Group Properties, agrees. She says in 2030, South Africa will have automated homes run by artificial intelligence (AI).

“It is already here, but hasn’t been commercially launched yet. In terms of all appliances and home cleaning, everything will be regulated and operated by AI. Most of our top new properties are already automated in many ways, but now robots are about to descend on us and these robots will be doing cleaning and cooking in the next decade.”

Tim Greeff, regional director at Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate, says 10 years from now he expects to see more security estates, with roads built through existing erven to form pockets of estates. Eco-villages will be in demand and homes will be smaller but more functional.

“For example, there will be car docks instead of garages taking up space.” Apartment blocks will be smaller and have communal areas such as kitchens and lounges, likely to appeal to people between 20 and 35.

“Zoning will change, as it did in the past 10 years, so skyscrapers will get higher.” Minimalism is a growing trend with less emphasis on filling spaces with nostalgic items and a bigger emphasis on creating expansive, airy and uncluttered spaces, says Craig Mott, Western Cape regional sales manager for the Rawson Property Group.

“Personal offices are becoming more necessary for the average homeowner due to the abundance of home business opportunities made available by the web and the shift to the remote office lifestyle.”

Climate resilience is key, maximising natural energy and sunlight, says Merle O’Brien, principal futurist and head of foresight and innovation at Creation iLab. “We will see waterless toilets, solar roof tiles, hybrid energy, data and fibre versus old satellite dishes, and electronic operating systems.”

In addition:

◆ Kitchens are replacing lounges and dining rooms as “the centre’” of the home.

◆ More bedrooms have showers en-suites due to personal privacy and increased hygiene habits.

◆ Garages are being turned into Airbnb units, with fewer car purchases and more ridehailing in the sharing, collaborative economy.


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