“A world in one country” – an expression very aptly associated with South Africa and its diverse natural beauty. It enjoys one of the highest rates of sunshine per day, offering an enviable outdoor lifestyle and adventure activities which are rare to many other countries and continents.
This is according to Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa, who says this country is one of the most beautiful, hottest tourist destinations in the world. “When you consider its exquisite beaches, magnificent countryside and rugged mountain backdrops, you can understand why.”
Hutchison says South Africa is renowned for its excellent medical facilities and well-trained medical specialists. There are many great public schools which have maintained particularly high education standards, with a host of top private schools in every city and town.
‘Rainbow nation’ is the frequent term used to describe SA’s cultural diversity, with 11 official languages, although English remains the business language in our multi-lingual country, rich in cultural diversity and heritage.
Hutchison says South Africans are known for being amongst the most upbeat, welcoming and humorous folk you can hope to encounter, and with a past that tells the story of separation and struggle, SA is now filled with unity and possibility and growing towards a great future.
“South Africans are extremely proud of their beautiful country, offering tourists from around the world great holiday experiences and world-class hospitality,” he says.
South Africa scores top marks for its diverse offering of beaches, dramatic mountains and cliff-faces, lush forest belts, intriguing semi-deserts and unforgettable sunsets over the African veld.
It boasts highlights such as the famed Table Mountain with its cloudy tablecloth, and the lush Garden Route stretching from the Eastern to Western Cape. Any traveller to its shores will soon discover that a postcard scene awaits them at every turn.
Just like the diverse cultural experience one could expect from this exceptional country, one would most definitely find it hard to choose from country living in the Free State province to cosmopolitan lifestyle in Gauteng and warm bushveld sun in the North West bordering the Kruger National Park, says Hutchison.
Overall, this country has not only sparked tourism, but also interest in property investment, he says.
“The South African property market, particularly the residential market in Southern Africa, is filled with potential and growth. In the Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl, we have seen property values bolstered by positive market growth and contributing market factors. Quality and location are the key differentiators,” says Hutchison.
In 2008, he says house prices fell by 0.5% and in 2009, house prices rose by 0.3%, the roller-coaster continued in 2010, as house prices increased by 2.3%, which can be attributed to South Africa hosting the 19th FIFA World Cup.
In 2011, house prices rose by just 1%, due to lower economic growth and rising inflation, but that was short lived as in 2012 the housing market bounced back with house prices rising by 9%.
In 2013, Hutchison says house prices rose by 3.9% (-1.3% in real terms) and in November 2014, the average price of small homes of 80sqm to 140sqm was R852 000, the average price of medium-sized homes of 141sqm to 220sqm was R1.191 million and the average price of large homes of 221sqm to 400sqm was R1.814 million.
“In view of the house price growth in the first eleven months of this year, we may well see a growth of around 9% forecast for the full year,” says Hutchison.
South Africa is viewed as a safe investment platform for expansion into the rest of Africa. It was ranked first for auditing and reporting standards, and is ranked number one as the country with regulation of securities exchanges, second for soundness of banks and second for availability of financial services (safe country to invest in, positive attributes of a developing services) by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index.
SA also ranks as the top 15% in terms of property rights in the world (World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index). Over the last 10 to 15 years, the South African listed property sector has been the best performing asset class compared to cash, home loans and equities, and Kearney’s Global Cities Index ranked the city of Cape Town as one of the top 20 emerging global cities.
“I would say that the world praise and the country’s natural beauty are strong motivating contributors for investment in South Africa’s property,” says Hutchison.
Traditionally, he says expats return to South Africa to exceptional positions due to their exposure and experience in the international business world. This allows them to afford homes in any of the areas where they choose to live.
Depending on the business skills honed during their time overseas, they may return to their hometown or to the cities where attractive salaries are paid. There also appears to be a demand among wealthy expat buyers for lifestyle properties in what they perceive to be luxury locations.
Hutchison says as the “City of Gold”, Johannesburg attracts new arrivals to its northern suburbs, the business and nightlife hub of South Africa. The advantage is the new Gautrain transport system, which alleviates much of the travelling hassles.
Cape Town is a sought-after cosmopolitan area and desired by many. The quality of life in the ‘Mother City’ is incomparable due to its amazing scenery, activities and a permanent holiday atmosphere.
Also popular due to its unsurpassed weather and warm Indian Ocean, is the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, namely Ballito and Umhlanga. With the new Shaka International Airport based between Ballito and Umhlanga, and this part of the coast is now a lively area with a burgeoning property market, says Hutchison.