Townhouses: Best Kept Secret in South African Property

According to Stats SA, there was a 14.4% increase in townhouse construction from January to March 2021. Previously recorded figures also indicated a significant rise in this sector. Reasons cited for the upturn are that consumers are more security conscious and trending towards urban living.

What Type of Property Is a Townhouse?

Townhouses are often considered freehold properties, which means you can enjoy full ownership of the property, including the parcel of land it's built on, like any freestanding home. In contrast, a sectional title home defines owning only a section or unit within a complex. A typical townhouse complex contains several dwellings where an individual owns each unit.

However, townhouse complexes may also contain duplexes or semi-detached homes, otherwise defined as two living units, with a single owner, side by side or stacked one on top of the other, with no connecting doorways between the two and each unit enjoying a private entrance.

Are Townhouses Worth the Investment?

It is much cheaper to purchase a townhouse than a freehold house, and besides, they offer several benefits that you cannot ignore. Apart from a value escalation over time, as with most properties, selling a townhouse would be considerably more manageable than other types of homes.

Townhouses offer community, and most will agree that a sense of neighbourliness and support go a long way towards enticing potential buyers.

If you select a good neighbourhood with nearby amenities and schools, for instance, you shouldn't have difficulty in selling it for a profit when the time comes.

Benefits of Townhouse Living

One of the primary reasons South Africans lean towards townhouse living is security. Most townhouse or security complexes and estates offer a considerable level of safety and security due to guarded gates and secure perimeter fencing.

The beauty of these units is the smaller gardens to maintain in your immediate vicinity, which a flat or apartment usually doesn't provide.

Many townhouse complexes offer shared outdoor amenities such as swimming pools, well-tended gardens, and in some (more expensive) cases, even tennis courts, fitness centres, and shared clubhouses, which all owners can enjoy.

What Are Levies?

The only drawback to townhouse living could be the monthly levies every owner pays percentage-wise towards the upkeep of the entire complex. The Body Corporate and Trustees usually calculate these according to an annual general meeting.

These fees are generally balanced out if you consider what gardening services, pool maintenance, and outside painting would cost you in a freehold property. However, you would be wise to do these calculations with the support of an experienced agent before signing any agreements.

It seems apparent that investing and living in a townhouse, security complex, or estate offers advantages that outweigh those of freehold ownership. You enjoy all the freedoms you would have in a traditional home, but you aren't responsible for the maintenance and other ownership headaches.

Townhouse rules do not limit your interior décor, and provided you don't alter the exterior too much, you'll be pretty much free to do as you wish.