Technology drives luxury residential real estate buying trends
technology drives luxury residential real estate buying trends

Technology drives luxury residential real estate buying trends

Technology has unquestionably become one of this decade’s most significant luxury residential real estate trend drivers, offering a world of freedom to High-Net-Worth (HNW) individuals who were previously tethered to career-specific locations.

This is according to High Street Auctions Founding Partner and Lead Auctioneer Joff van Reenen, who believes that business will never fully revert to the traditional corporate employment framework that was in place prior to the pandemic.

“With staff working remotely trade and commerce continued; the markets didn’t collapse and the private sector didn’t implode. Even the world’s largest multinationals functioned with ease from thousands of locations because technology linked their employees to each other and to their clients,” notes Van Reenen.

READ: How is hybrid work really working out in SA workspaces?

“At the height of the pandemic in 2020, not being office-bound triggered a global migration trend away from major metropolitan areas – a movement that grew in momentum last year and still shows no sign of slowing.”

“HNW individuals are increasingly making real estate investments based on lifestyle choices rather than location dictations, because they know that as long as there’s a digital connection, they’re in business.”

The 2022 Douglas Elliman and Knight Frank Wealth Report support with data showing large sums of private capital currently flowing into real estate, and private investors increasing property holdings by 52% in 2021.

Upping your social game

With the decline of print circulation, property marketing in South Africa shifted online a while back. Many agencies neglected their online presence as portals rose to prominence. 

A recent study conducted by real estate website, The Close, found that 44% of agents said that they gained a new client in 2020 due to posting on social media. 

Social Media Today advises that real estate agents who are embracing social media successfully can emerge as leaders in their communities. Not necessarily through the appeal of social media brands and influencers with huge followings that tend to dominate much of the conversation, but instead, agents who invest in creating hyper-local content that resonates with their community can position themselves as market leaders.

A well-established social media marketing infrastructure is crucial says Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property, as it allows agents and franchisees to operate beyond the cluttered portal environment. It addresses questions like:

  • How do we ringfence our unique propositions?
  • How do we communicate our brand essence and value proposition?
  • How do we differentiate ourselves?

And now, with the pandemic-driven reduction in face-to-face interaction, how do we make real, lasting connections with our sometimes-isolated client base?

READ: Property marketing trends | How social media is shaping the real estate industry

Van Reenen says lifestyle properties in the bush and near the coast have been the biggest drawcards in South Africa in recent years, among local and international investors alike.

“Every luxury game lodge we’ve auctioned since the beginning of 2020 has attracted widespread interest and been snapped up after very competitive bidding.”

“Changing technology has also been instrumental to this process because High Street introduced live-stream virtual auctions shortly after lockdown began in 2020 and as a result, international buyers have been able to watch sales and bid digitally in real time. In fact, the first bush lodge we auctioned virtually was bought by sight-unseen by an international buyer on the strength of a 3D virtual tour of the property.”

READ: The demand for coastal and country homes remains strong

Lightstone data reveals that in 2021 foreign buyers purchased 199 properties in Limpopo province, where many of the country’s game lodges are located. In 2020 when the Deeds Office was shut for several months, the number of foreign buyers in the province was still 159,” says Van Reneen.

And according to Knight Frank’s Prime International Residential Index (PIRI 100), the average value of the luxury residential property increased by 8.4% last year, which represents the highest annual increase since this index started tracking in 2008.

Van Reenen says it’s steep appreciation in this bracket coupled with favourable foreign exchange rates that are making properties such as bush lodges and lifestyle farms in South Africa such attractive investment propositions for foreign buyers.

“They are, however, facing stiff competition from the local semigration market. As many local buyers – especially from Gauteng – are seeking rural lifestyle properties in the Western Cape and the northern bushveld regions of the country.

READ: There is a property for everyone in these outlying Boland towns of the Cape

“Our auction buyers in this segment are pretty evenly split between foreign and local purchasers. On our upcoming auction on June 29th, there are three properties in particular that are attracting a lot of interest.”

This 308.98ha farm in Robertson, Western Cape will go on aucion on 29 June 2022 – click here for more information.

Van Reenen says the first is a lifestyle farm in the Robertson district in the Western Cape, an easily commutable 160km from Cape Town International Airport, while the other two are located in the highly sought-after Mabula Private Game Reserve in Bela Bela, Limpopo.

“The two Mabula lodges are perfect family retreats as primary or co-primary dwellings for HNW individuals, set in very secure surrounds.

The first, Tidimalo, is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom luxury lodge with 180-degree views across a sweeping valley. Glass frontages fold back to a wide viewing deck that allows for spectacular indoor-outdoor living that overlooks a private rock pool. Air-conditioning, all furnishings, a wine cellar and a game viewing Land Rover complete this lifestyle purchase.

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