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Cape Town’s Property Landscape: Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies for Landlords and Developers

  • Latest News
  • April 19, 2024
Cape Town’s Property Landscape: Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies for Landlords and Developers

Cape Town’s landlords face a multifaceted and challenging environment, exacerbated by land shortages, rising municipal charges based on 2022 valuations, and an inflation rate of 5.3%. Operational costs are also on the rise due to load shedding and the need for alternative power, while material costs soar for both revamping existing buildings and new constructions.


However, the city’s commercial landscape is undergoing significant changes that present both challenges and opportunities for landlords and developers. The shift towards remote work has led many businesses to adopt hybrid work models, reducing the demand for traditional office spaces but not eliminating it entirely. Cape Town’s growing reputation as a hub for call centres has also contributed to the demand for office space, offsetting some of the reduction caused by remote work trends.


In addition to these shifts, Cape Town is experiencing a significant influx of semigration from other cities. Businesspeople are increasingly relocating to Cape Town, drawn by its stable governance, business-friendly environment, and lifestyle advantages. This semigration trend is driving up demand for industrial space at an unprecedented rate, as these new arrivals establish or expand their businesses in the city.


Despite these challenges, South African businesspeople are renowned for their resilience. Stable governance in Cape Town and most linked municipalities allows businesses to take a long-term investment view, mitigating some of the uncertainties of the current landscape.

The 2022 Auditor General Report further underscores this stability, with the City of Cape Town and several linked municipalities receiving clean bills of financial governance. Notable performers include West Coast DM, Overstrand LM, Witzenberg LM, Cape Agulhas LM, and Cape Winelands DM, all in the Western Cape, with 9 to 12 consecutive years of clean governance.


According to the Rode Report, yields in Cape Town on average range from 1 to 1.5% lower than Johannesburg, varying depending on the property asset type. This yield discrepancy is significant and worth noting for potential investors.



The land shortage in Cape Town has pushed development towards the N7 corridor up to Malmesbury and towards the urban edges in areas like Kraaifontein, Durbanville, and their surrounds. These locations offer land availability at fair rates per m2, making them attractive options for developers.


However, a major hurdle that developers face is the presence of construction mafias, often operating under the guise of Business Forums. These groups extort and harass developers and laborers on-site, demanding free benefits from developments. While statements from officials like JP Smith and the Minister of Police have promised crackdowns and arrests, convictions have been disappointingly few.


Furthermore, the supply and demand dynamics in Cape Town play a significant role in the pricing structure. For instance, the city has a limited number of shopping malls for sale, further driving up prices due to high demand and the need for the REITS to have more exposure in the Western Cape.

In conclusion, while Cape Town presents numerous challenges for landlords and developers, from land scarcity to rising operating costs and construction mafias, the city’s resilience, stable governance, strategic development areas, and evolving commercial landscape offer opportunities for those willing to navigate the complexities. As remote work trends towards a hybrid model, call centre concentration increases, and semigration drives demand for industrial space, staying informed, adaptable, and resilient will be key to succeeding in this ever-changing property landscape.


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