The pandemic-induced “race for space”, coupled with the remote-working trend, has prompted a trek away from high-density suburbs to secure, gated communities in countrified settings.
While estate living is nothing new, what has changed is the extent to which buyers in lifestyle developments are expecting sustainability boxes to be ticked. This means that eco estates, which tend to have various flora and fauna offerings with a strong conservation focus, are increasingly de rigueur among well-heeled homebuyers.
Andrew Golding, CEO of the Pam Golding Property group, says lockdown-related work and lifestyle changes have seen many city dwellers grow tired of being cooped up in small homes in congested urban areas. This has boosted demand for properties in secure lifestyle estates that offer easy access to open spaces as well as leisure amenities. Eco estates, which typically comprise homes on larger stands in scenic surrounds, have become particularly popular. But the focus of the new generation of eco estates blooming across the country isn’t only on wildlife and vegetation preservation. They also tend to boast various “green building” credentials to meet changing buyer preferences.
Golding says homebuyers are increasingly looking to go off the grid, even if only partially. “The installation of energy- and water-saving solutions is now becoming the new normal amid rapidly rising electricity and utility costs, coupled with poor municipal service delivery.” He cites increased saleability as another driver of the sustainable-living trend. “A green home typically sells at a premium [compared] to regular homes of a similar size and location.”
Grant Smee, MD of Only Realty, agrees. “Savvy South Africans are gravitating towards sustainable, eco-friendly living.” He believes the use of solar power and sustainable building materials to reduce carbon footprints, as well as other green features such as vegetable gardens, will continue to appear on homebuyers’ wish lists.
Samuel Seeff, chairperson of the Seeff Property Group, says eco estates within easy commuting distance of good schools, hospitals, shops, and business hubs are especially popular among young families. Homes in eco estates that are more remote are popular with professionals who can work from anywhere — and as weekend or holiday getaways.
WHERE TO BUY
Meyersdal Eco Estate, which forms part of the greater Meyersdal Nature Estate south of Joburg, offers an unspoilt natural environment with plenty of endangered fauna and flora, and is only a short drive away from the city centre. It also boasts mountain-bike and hiking trails, and three dams. Large, standalone homes with all the bells and whistles sell for between R7-million and R22-million.
VAL DE VIE
Chris Cilliers, CEO and co-principal at Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, Winelands, believes Val de Vie Estate is a prime example of the move towards prioritising a more sustainable approach. Apart from an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, three polo fields, and an equestrian centre, Val de Vie offers walking trails, mountain-bike trails, dams and lakes that allow catch-and-release fishing, a fynbos reserve, and an enclosed dog-running park. It also incorporates a working farm where residents can pick fresh vegetables. The estate has various green credentials and its own boreholes to supplement municipal water. The average selling price at Val de Vie is R10-million, with two-bedroom sectional-title townhouses for sale from R3.4-million and freestanding three-bedroom homes for about R4.3-million.
The once-sleepy seaside village of Noordhoek on Cape Town’s southern peninsula, traditionally popular among artists and the horsey set, is now home to a number of eco estates. Arnold Maritz, southern suburbs co-principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says Chapman’s Bay Estate, which is in the final development phase, ticks all the boxes. “The developers have placed specific emphasis on preserving and restoring biodiversity, including the natural fynbos and various indigenous species.” Prices of vacant stands start at R895 000, townhouses are around R3.7-million, and freestanding homes range from R4.8-million to R8.9-million.
ELALENI AND ZULULAMI
KwaZulu-Natal North Coast
The KwaZulu-Natal north coast has long led South Africa’s eco-development movement. Andreas Wassenaar, licensee for Seeff’s KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast region, says Elaleni Coastal Forest Estate and Zululami Luxury Coastal Estate are now looking to set new benchmarks for eco living. Some 17.5ha of Elaleni’s 46ha consist of a protected swamp forest. The development also has numerous conservation servitudes and beautifully landscaped communal spaces. Vacant land is priced from R1.635-million to R3.85-million, while turnkey homes are between R5.85-million and R6.79- million. At Zululami, which is within walking distance of Sheffield Beach, freehold stands are priced from R1.4-million, two- to three-bedroom apartments from R2.3-million, and freestanding homes from R3.5-million.
Thorny Bush Estate is a fairly new golf and wildlife estate near Mokopane in Limpopo’s Waterberg region. The focus is on energy-efficient and self-sustainable homes, particularly in terms of water provision. Set in prime bushveld with free-roaming game, the estate offers ownership opportunities that range from start-up and family homes to retirement options. Christine McGrath, Seeff’s MD in Mokopane, says vacant stands are priced at around R450 000 and golf-course stands at around R650 000. Large, secluded erven sell from R1.25-million.
• From the February edition of Wanted, 2022.