Mau­ri­tius more af­ford­able

En­try level for leisure prop­erty down to around R3m

Finweek English Edition - - Property - JOAN MULLER joanm@fin­week.co.za

MAU­RI­TIUS has be­come an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for both em­i­gra­tion and as­set di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion pur­poses since the In­dian Ocean Is­land opened its shores to for­eign prop­erty in­vestors five years ago.

Un­til re­cently, South African buy­ers who wanted to own a hol­i­day or re­tire­ment pad in a so-called In­te­grated Re­sort Scheme (IRS) usu­ally had to fork out at least R6m for the priv­i­lege.

The IRS leg­is­la­tion was in­tro­duced in the early 2000s to al­low for­eign­ers to buy free­hold homes in ded­i­cated, re­sort-type res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments for a min­i­mum pur­chase price of US$500 000 (R4,2m). How­ever, av­er­age ask­ing prices of most of the 10 or so IRS schemes al­ready ap­proved by the Mau­ri­tian gov­ern­ment have been closer to the $1,2m (R10m) mark.

But it’s no longer only the su­per-rich who can af­ford to own res­i­den­tial prop­erty in Mau­ri­tius. The coun­try’s real es­tate leg­is­la­tion was re­cently amended with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Real Es­tate Scheme (RES), al­low­ing non-cit­i­zens to buy in smaller sec­tional-ti­tle type de­vel­op­ments sit­u­ated on a max­i­mum of 10 hectares at no min­i­mum en­try level.

Other than the price tag, all the ben­e­fits avail­able to for­eign buy­ers in IRS re­sorts also ap­ply to RES de­vel­op­ments, most notably the fact that buy­ers and their de­pen­dants qual­ify for per­ma­nent res­i­dency sta­tus.

Two RES schemes have been launched to SA buy­ers in re­cent weeks, both at start­ing prices equiv­a­lent to around R3m. Pam Gold­ing Prop­er­ties is mar­ket­ing Cape Bay Beach Re­sort, on the north coast of the is­land close to Grand Baie in the Bain Boeuf area.

SA com­pany 2Tribes is the co-de­vel­oper of Cape Bay, which com­prises 48 fur­nished two-and three-bed­room apart­ments (125sq m to 153sq m). Units, most with sea views and pri­vate pools, are priced in ru­pees with a cur­rent rand ex­change value of be­tween R3m and R6m.

Jonathan Tagg, MD of Pam Gold­ing Prop­er­ties Mau­ri­tius, says 41 units have al­ready been sold, mainly to South African and French buy­ers. He main­tains Cape Bay is ex­tremely com­pet­i­tively priced com­pared to the At­lantic Seaboard or any other high-end, in­ter­na­tional coastal re­sort.

Fi­nance is ap­par­ently read­ily avail­able to qual­i­fied buy­ers at in­ter­est rates of be­tween 5,5% and 6,5%. A 5% de­posit is re­quired on reser­va­tion of an apart­ment, with 25% per­cent payable on deed of sale and the bal­ance dur­ing the construction process.

The sec­ond RES de­vel­op­ment launched for SA buy­ers is Emer­ald Heights on the edge of the Black River Gorges Nat­u­ral Park, some 10km in­land on a hill over­look­ing the south­west­ern coast­line of the is­land. Emer­ald Heights, de­vel­oped by UK group Mor­daunt Es­tates and mar­keted in SA by Lynn Es­tates, is a much larger de­vel­op­ment than Cape Bay with 300 units planned over eight phases.

The first phase in­cludes 30 fully fur­nished one-, two-and three-bed­room apart­ments with shared pools and two-, three-, four-and five-bed­room de­tached vil­las with pri­vate gar­dens. Apart­ment prices start at €275 000 (R3,2m) and vil­las from €895 000 (R10,4m). Prices at Emer­ald Heights in­clude all costs as well as mem­ber­ship to a pri­vate beach club and an 18-hole golf course at the Mau­ri­tius Gymkhana Club.

Stephen Aldridge, CEO of Mor­daunt Es­tates, says about 22 units in the first phase have al­ready been sold to Euro­pean and SA buy­ers, with the bulk of sales go­ing to what he refers to as “grey money” – peo­ple in the age bracket of 50 years and over. Pay­ment of the pur­chase price is also stag­gered, de­pend­ing on construction stage.

Lat­est fig­ures from UK prop­erty group Knight Frank show that Mau­ri­tius counts among the world’s top 20 hot spots in terms of house price growth.

Apart­ments priced from R3,2m at Emer­ald Heights in Mau­ri­tius.

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