Johannesburg - The much-vaunted Tuscan building fashion is now passé for super-wealthy property buyers.
Lew Geffen, the chair of Sotheby’s International Realty in South Africa, said these days the clean lines of contemporary architecture were hot news in the luxury housing market - the market with houses costing R5m to R150m.
Wealthy buyers now preferred woodwork and stone masonry to marble and ceramic tiles, he said. These buyers appeared to be moving away from conspicuous opulence and fussy detail, opting rather for subtle, simple, modern design.
But this did not mean that they wanted less luxury. Geffen said they actually wanted more luxury, but in a different packaging.
One of the luxuries that had gone out of fashion was the Jacuzzi. He said not only was it ugly, but it required excessive maintenance.
This outmoded convenience had given way to the steam shower.
Facilities now considered essential included 24-hour security, hypermodern kitchens and living rooms that were twice as large.
In keeping with the modern technological age, advanced gadgetry headed wealthy buyers’ wish lists. This included automated music, heating and lighting systems, as well as broadband and satellite internet connections.
A personal movie theatre was almost standard in most luxury homes, as was a wine cellar.
The latest trend was for children’s bedrooms to be much bigger than before, accompanied by en-suite bathrooms.
Geffen said that the housing market had improved significantly since last year and this was particularly evident in Sotheby’s sales volumes, which had lifted 30% in the year to date compared with the same time last year.
He said these sales had led to a healthy 9% rise in the company’s turnover.
The most active segment of the market involved houses costing around R2.5m. Buyers in this market were all professional people who easily qualified for mortgage finance.
In his company’s experience, the percentage of applications for mortgage loans turned down in this market had dropped from 15% in the past to 4%.
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