Estate living is a popular choice for many South Africans. But before committing there are certain things you need to know. Hennie Pretorius of Moneybags outlines some of the pros and cons to estate living.

Estate living in South Africa is appealing to many and therefore is a growing need, for various reasons. Some are searching for security, others for low maintenance, and some love the idea of a lock-up-and-go setup giving them the opportunity to travel at the drop of a hat.

Before considering buying into an estate, one should always weigh-up the pros and cons first. Paul Stevens, COO of the Just Property Group, highlights some of the pros of estate living:

Added safety: Gated communities also aid safety measures for the neighbourhood. The body corporate can erect speed bumps and enforce lower-than-typical speeds as measures for residents’ safety, particularly children.

Higher property value: The gates and fences of an estate provide the perception of security, safety and privacy – and in affluent neighbourhoods, privacy means exclusivity and thus higher property values. Adding weight to the argument is that an automatic gate system or private security access boosts the property value regardless of whether or not it actually impacts on crime in that area.

Cost sharing: There are many items some property owners might be unable to afford individually, but in pooling resources and opting for communal living they then become accessible to them.

Community: Estate living can foster a sense of togetherness, a feeling of unity and the unspoken understanding that neighbours will look out for each other.

Status: Everyone wants to feel proud of their home and many use it as a status symbol. A gated community can offer prestige akin to a private club where access privileges are required.

Modern touch: Gated communities may also offer buyers the opportunity to purchase a more modern home than those found in established areas, simply because the homes found in those communities are newer than the freestanding ones in the neighbourhood.

What about the cons?

Dirk Uys, estate manager at Arabella Country Estate, says it is easy to recognise the pros of estate living, but it is important to recognise the cons as well: “The pros of living in a gated security estate are easy to see, but what some people don’t initially see are the ‘cons’ that could cause them potential issues in the future.”

Some of the cons to consider:

Community rules: By living in an estate you are living within a community, and as such you are governed by rules and regulations that you would not normally have living in a freehold house within a neighbourhood. Rules can vary from a certain expected look for your property, to pets, cars, noise, and whether or not you are allowed to run a business from your house.

Extra costs: All these luxuries come at a price. Levies generally covering communal water, rates and taxes, security, common property maintenance expenses and community employees (should that be applicable), often work out higher than the individual costs associated with a freestanding home..

Property repairs: The municipality may deem the road infrastructure within the gated community as private property, meaning the onus for repairing potholes and maintaining the network falls to the residents as a cost above the taxes already collected for road maintenance in the area.

Although there are many similarities between different estates, they are not all exactly the same, and neither are the rules and regulations.

“Potential buyers for an estate need to make sure they know and understand all of the rules before buying into the estate, as once you are there and have purchased your property, you are seen to have agreed and consented to these rules and regulations and therefore will be liable if you do not follow the rules,” says Uys.

Don’t be afraid to ask

As there are many different types of estates available, make sure you know what you are getting for your money. All you have to do is simply ask. At the end of the day your comfort is important to you, and the reputation an estate lives by is essential to its success.

After asking Carl van der Linde, managing director at Pinnacle Point Beach and Golf Resort, regarding pros and cons of estate living at Pinnacle Point this is what he had to say:

Pros of Pinnacle Point:

  • Extremely good security.
  • Well maintained infrastructure.
  • Home Owners Association owns the golf course and all other facilities are financially secure.
  • Membership benefits for home owners at the golf club as well as other facilities on the estate.
  • In-house services i.e. gardens, staff transport and swimming pool maintenance at a minimal fee.

Cons of Pinnacle Point:

  • Certain house rules, for instance, rules regarding pets that have a negative impact on family living.
  • With the estate being perceived as a golf resort, corporate functions and other non-home owner related functions have an impact on your privacy.
  • Poor decisions might be taken which may have a negative impact on the home owner and estate.
  • Poor management of the estate might have a negative impact on the levies.
  • Contractors working on the estate could be a security risk.

Even though contractors on the estate are a security risk, no outside security breaches have been recorded over the last two and a half years, “Pinnacle Point is known for its proactive security systems as well as well-trained security manpower,” says van der Linde.