Land scarcity lead­ing to smaller and sim­pler hous­ing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

WITH a short­age of land for hous­ing and an in­creas­ing need for ur­ban den­si­fi­ca­tion – in the West­ern Cape in par­tic­u­lar – av­er­age er­ven have al­most halved in size over the past 40 years.

Data has shown that in Cape Town the av­er­age full ti­tle stand is cur­rently less than half the size it used to be.

To­day’s homes also have fewer luxury features like swim­ming pools, garages and din­ing rooms, and build­ing sizes have de­creased. In ad­di­tion, sec­tional ti­tle homes are far more com­mon.

“This longer-term trend to­wards ‘smaller and sim­pler’ is set to con­tinue,” says FNB’s house­hold and prop­erty sec­tor strate­gist John Loos in FNB’s lat­est Prop­erty Barom­e­ter.

This is be­cause in South Africa, with its gen­eral gov­ern­ment fis­cal con­straints and low rates of eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment, there have been in­creas­ing land con­straints.

From FNB’s val­u­a­tions data, in which valuers note the es­ti­mated build­ing dates of prop­er­ties, im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing sizes and char­ac­ter­is­tics of homes has been gleaned. And one of these is that the av­er­age full ti­tle stand size has shrunk.

Full ti­tle res­i­den­tial stands of homes built from 1970 to 1974 had an av­er­age peak size of 1063.4m², while cur­rently the av­er­age size of a full ti­tle stand mea­sures 551.94m² – al­most half the size.

Loos says Cape Town is the ur­ban cen­tre with the most acute land scarcity as it is con­strained by the sea on sev­eral sides and the moun­tain na­ture re­serve in the mid­dle. “Not sur­pris­ingly, we see the West­ern Cape hav­ing the low­est av­er­age full ti­tle stand size of 487.2m²…”

Loos says the size of houses has also “de­clined sig­nif­i­cantly” over the years, although not as rapidly as av­er­age stand sizes. Av­er­age sizes have de­creased from a 203.35m² peak for homes built from 1970 to 1974, to just 161.89m² for build­ings built from 2015 to 2017.

“It seems, how­ever, that house­holds are far hap­pier to dis­pense with out­door space than in­door space in the quest for af­ford­abil­ity.”

House­holds are also re­duc­ing lux­u­ries to cope with the fact that hous­ing is get­ting more ex­pen­sive. These lux­u­ries in­clude: Staff ac­com­mo­da­tion Swim­ming pools Garages Car­port. Stud­ies Din­ing rooms. The long-term home den­si­fi­ca­tion process is ex­pected to con­tinue as land short­ages be­come more crit­i­cal. Loos says the key chal­lenges aris­ing from this in­clude the need to:

Cre­ate safe open pub­lic spa­ces to re­place the pri­vate space and ameni­ties many peo­ple had on their own prop­er­ties.

Cre­ate mass pub­lic trans­port sys­tems to re­duce the costs as­so­ci­ated with trans­port con­ges­tion.

De­sign life­style cities that are at­trac­tive to skilled labour. Hesays ur­ban de­sign is a key driver of a city’s com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage and Cape Town is win­ning this “war” among the Big 4 cities in South Africa.

Zone for den­si­fi­ca­tion in cer­tain ar­eas, no­tably along trans­port cor­ri­dors and pre­vent den­si­fi­ca­tion in other ar­eas.

Im­prove key in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties such as wa­ter/sew­er­age, schools and hos­pi­tals in ex­ist­ing ar­eas.

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