Nestled in the heart of Durban are two very different areas offering investors an unusually diverse selection of opportunities within a few square kilometres: the family-centric collection of suburbs known as the Berea, and the bustling CBD and waterfronts of Durban Central.
“The Berea is made up of the suburbs of Glenwood, Musgrave, Essenwood and Morningside,” says area specialist at the Rawson Property Group’s Berea franchise Mahomed Jooma. “It hosts most of our top shopping centres like the Windermere, The Atrium, Davenport Square and Musgrave Mall, and has some of the best schools in the province, including Durban High School, Durban Girls College, Maris Stella and Clifton. It’s very popular with families, particularly those with school-aged children whose parents work in the nearby areas.”
Properties on the Berea range from sprawling 4000m2 freehold mansions costing up to R18m, to luxurious sectional title apartments at between R8m to R10m. More affordable options are also available, sitting between the R500k and R1.3m price points, and most market activity takes place within this band.
More affordable than the Berea
By comparison, Durban Central’s properties are almost exclusively sectional title, spread across the CBD, the Esplanade, Point Waterfront, and North and South Beach. Prices tend to be more affordable than the Berea with many a bargain still to be found, says Jooma.
“Durban Central went through a bit of a rough period a while ago, but there’s a huge amount of redevelopment going on these days,” says Jooma. “The Point Waterfront has just begun a massive facelift with a R35bn mixed-use development underway, and the ‘Golden Mile’ beachfront is in great condition after improvements before the 2010 World Cup.”
Despite their obvious differences, both the Berea and Durban Central are extremely popular with investors.
“The excellent return on investment in Durban Central has always been well-known,” says Jooma, “but recent figures have exceeded expectations, with 2017 being one of the best years since the launch of the Rawson Properties Durban City office. It’s still a very popular area for first-time buyers because of its value for money apartments, but the rental market is also thriving, particularly in the Esplanade and CBD.”
High ROI in the Berea
With its more suburban environment, one might expect the Berea to offer less investment potential, but Jooma says the 8% to 10% ROI has seen interest in buy-to-let properties soaring in this area as well.
“Prices under the R800k mark have rocketed up to R15k per square metre,” he says, “whereas just a couple of years ago, those same apartments were selling for R11k to R12k per square metre. That kind of appreciation has become rare in the last couple of years and has made the Berea an attractive option for investors.”
According to Jooma, that attraction is likely to continue to grow as demand for commercial rental properties in the area climbs.
“The returns on commercial rentals on the Berea are substantial and climbing – it’s an excellent alternative to the already popular residential rental market,” he says.
“Combine that with a residential rental property or two in Durban Central, and you could create a very profitable and diverse investment portfolio, all within just a few square kilometres.”