Demand for student accommodation in Musgrave bodes well for the local property market

Durban’s sophisticated suburb of Musgrave has long been a favourite with affluent families and successful entrepreneurs, but recent trends indicate an increasing demand for student accommodation in the area as well. While residents may have mixed feelings about the growing number of sectional title developments this encourages, neighbourhood experts are optimistic about Musgrave’s property market future.

“Musgrave is one of Durban’s most beautiful suburbs,” says Craig Allsopp, the Rawson Property Group’s franchisee for the area. “It’s about two kilometres inland from the Indian Ocean, set on a north-facing rise overlooking the harbour, city bowl and stadiums, and has some gorgeous examples of Edwardian and Victorian architecture.”

According to Allsopp, the quintessential Musgrave property is an elegant and spacious traditional family home with incredible views, but the suburb also offers a wide variety of smaller and more modern property types.

“We have everything from hundred-year-old manor houses to brand new developments,” he says, “including gated complexes with townhouses and simplexes, and apartment blocks with bachelor, one- and two-bedroomed flats. There’s also a small commercial component in the Musgrave and Essenwood Road area, as well as St Thomas.”

“Far from detracting from the area’s appeal, this property diversity actually adds value to the area,” Allsopp continues, “as it stimulates activity across a broader market segment.”

Students, in particular, are being drawn by Musgrave’s central location and amenities, and the fact that it’s close to several local colleges as well as the university. This has triggered healthy growth in rental demand and stimulated the buy-to-let market, which, in turn, has created demand for more sectional title developments.

“There are some old houses on large properties being knocked down and replaced with new, multiple-residence developments,” says Allsopp, “not only for the student market, but also for people scaling down or looking for a secure, lock-up-and-go lifestyle. Many people are concerned that the increasing density is going to affect the Musgrave atmosphere, and consequently the property values. In reality the opposite is generally true.”

Allsopp explains that an increase in buyer and tenant activity often breathes life into markets that might otherwise stagnate, drawing the attention of the public and improving the area’s reputation as a whole.

“This does, of course, require good quality control and management of the sectional title developments being built,” he admits, “but the affluent nature of Musgrave, and the prices the properties sell for make that more likely than not.”

At present, a modest freestanding house in Musgrave will cost between R1.9 million and R3.5 million, while larger family homes range between R4 million and R10 million. A townhouse in a gated complex will cost between R1.2 million and R2.4 million, and 1- and 2-bedroom apartments sell from R700k to R850k and R900k to R1.35k, respectively.

“As a rule, areas with convenient locations and access to good schools, shopping centres, leisure, business and healthcare facilities are the most likely to see consistently positive long-term capital growth,” says Allsopp, “and that has certainly been the case in Musgrave to date. There’s no reason to believe new developments will do anything but add momentum to the market and improve appreciation.”

As for the family-friendly atmosphere, Allsopp is confident that it will remain unchanged.

“There will always be pockets of Musgrave that remain predominantly large, single-residence homes,” he says. “The proximity to Durban’s best private schools will ensure these remain valuable assets. Families will also be able to take advantage of the trendy shops and restaurants that typically accompany an increase in younger residents in an area, making Musgrave an attractive all-rounder suburb for residents of all ages.”

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