Here’s what is driving property purchases in South Africa right now

A South African survey has revealed the realities of today’s local property buyer, and what is most important to them when it comes to where – and how – they choose to live.

When conceptualising its latest development, SIX ON N, urban property development firm Blok conducted a survey among almost 1,500 respondents, to determine what factors are driving the purchasing decisions of would-be property buyers.

Jacques van Embden, managing director at Blok, said: “A vital step in our planning process is to ascertain directly from buyers what is most important to them when it comes to choosing a property.

“This takes the guesswork out of development, and ensures that we are designing a product that meets the real needs of the modern consumer.”

The survey saw a total of 1,470 respondents, the majority of whom were based in the Western Cape (55%), followed by Gauteng (29%) and KwaZulu-Natal (12%).

Thirty-four percent of respondents fell within the 26 – 30 years category, followed by the 30 – 36 age bracket, revealing a largely millennial audience.

“This is not surprising,” said van Embden, “When you consider that Gen Y-ers make up 27% of the South African population, translating into a buying power of around 14 million people.”

Living with the folks

Of those surveyed, only 20% own the property where they live; 26% indicated that they rent together with friends or a partner; while the largest group (35%) still live at home with their parents or caregiver.

This is of particular interest, said van Embden, when you consider that the vast majority of respondents who lived at home were between the ages of 26 – 36, while 13% were over the age of 40.

“This may be a result of the economic landscape, and the financial pressure faced by today’s consumer – they’re living at home for longer periods of time, as they simply cannot afford to live independently.”

However, it may also be indicative of a more transient lifestyle. “We know that consumers are getting married and having children far later in life than previous generations. The pattern of living at home for longer is congruent with this trend towards wanting more freedom and fewer financial ties.

“We expect to see more agile products enter the market, in response to this desire for increased flexibility and affordability.”

What they want vs what they can afford

When it came to the size of property, the survey revealed consumers to be uncertain of what their income could get them. The largest group of respondents (57%) earned a gross monthly salary of between R15,000 – R20,000, yet almost half of respondents sought a two-bedroom property, as opposed to a studio or one-bedroom apartment.

However, conversely, when it came to their maximum price threshold, respondents were under no illusions as to what they could afford, with 581 of the 1470 participants stating that they could only afford a property that was R500,000 or less.

“This demonstrates an understanding of how a bond works, but possibly a misconception around what your money can realistically buy,” said van Embden.

Size doesn’t matter

Yet, when it comes to what is most important to buyers when choosing a property, size was, in fact, revealed to be of least importance, with ‘location’ cited as the most critical deciding factor, and ‘price’ being the second most important consideration.

Almost half (47%) of respondents admitted that they would rather downscale in apartment size, if it meant an improved quality of life. “Buyers are eschewing an ‘up-and-coming’ neighbourhood in favour of one that has consistently demonstrated a return on investment, or enriches their day-to- day routine.

“They’re trading having less private space, in favour of living in a better area,” he said.

Who needs the movies, when we have a pool?

When it comes to amenities, what was shown to be most in demand?

“A fitness studio,” said van Embden, “Which is in line with the prioritisation of ‘quality of life’; however, this could, in part, also be based on affordability, as monthly gym subscriptions tend to be pricey.

“The second most desirable amenity cited was ‘a roof deck with pool’ – which points to a continued desire to connect with others; even in this time of social distancing,” said van Embden.

And least important amenity? “A movie theatre,” said van Embden, unsurprising in this age of Netflix.


Blok’s latest development, SIX ON N, was developed in response to this shift, which sees buyers increasingly prioritising their lifestyles, while enjoying the benefits of shared spaces and the convenience of a serviced offering.

In addition to a deli/grocer on the ground floor, SIX ON N will also offer shared leisure spaces, such as a rooftop pool and dining room.

“We have also ensured that each unit, irrespective of its size, has a dedicated workstation to enable work from home. The development also offers two boardrooms that residents can reserve for meetings,” said van Embden.

“At Blok, we constantly strive to better understand our market – their needs, preferences, dreams and aspirations – so that we can create apartments that are designed around a lifestyle our buyer aspires to, while showcasing our passion for community through an investment that continues to offer long-term value and security.”

Read: Mini-homes are becoming popular in South Africa – here’s how big they are inside

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Here’s what is driving property purchases in South Africa right now