We might have adopted a cautiously optimistic outlook for 2023, but going green is with us for the long haul, writes Carol Reynolds.
As 2023 kicks off, there is a sense of cautious optimism as we tentatively approach the new year, hopeful that the economy stabilises – all the while mindful of how quickly things can turn. The past three years have shifted mindsets and forced us out of our comfort zones, with the result that anxiety is more pervasive than ever and lifestyle has come up trumps in terms of prioritising what really matters.
These shifts have had a knock-on effect on the property market with buyers making decisions based on lifestyle choices, and investors seeking stable asset classes, like property, rather than being too heavily invested in stocks. Against this backdrop, we have also endured the local challenges of failing municipalities and ongoing load shedding, so where does this leave us for 2023?
First and foremost, it is not surprising that many homeowners are now considering implementing more sustainable green features in their homes. If we look at current trends in residential developments, there is a strong emphasis on eco-friendly features. Most developments encourage solar panels, heat pumps and some form of water reticulation. JoJo water storage tanks are a great cost-effective way to save water and provide a back-up supply in the event of municipal shortages. For many, the idea is not to be fully off the grid, but rather to have water and energy “back-up” solutions for times of need and to reduce the burden on local infrastructure. This green focus applies across the board to homeowners and buyers in both freehold and sectional title properties.
A good starting point is for homes to have at least one JoJo tank with a pump that is connected back into the home to act as a reserve water supply and to become the primary source of water for irrigation and gardening purposes. From a power supply perspective, many are still relying on inverters. Generators are noisy and costly to run – especially with the increase in fuel prices – so most are opting for small inverter solutions that keep the essentials in their homes running during load shedding.
From a new build perspective, solar inverter systems are probably first prize, as they offer a hybrid solution tapping into both solar energy and municipal supply to keep batteries charged. They also satisfy our eco-friendly goals, by placing less pressure on the grid. It is certainly more cost-effective to install green features at the start of a building project, than to add them after-the-fact to an existing home. Consequently, it is advisable for those planning a new build or undergoing a significant home renovation, to weigh up the costs and benefits of a solar inverter system as opposed to a non-solar alternative.
For any homeowner or buyer, the benefits of having green features are self-evident – water and electricity crises become less worrisome and homes remain fully functional despite the failings of our electricity supply and/or municipalities. More and more, we are seeing buyers noting such features, and while it is difficult to quantify the value-added benefits of these, having back-up power and water supply solutions certainly makes homes more appealing and more sellable.
From the perspective of general market sentiment, we are encouraged by the fact that many investors have returned to property as an asset class because it is relatively stable compared to the volatile stock market. Investors are diversifying and property is becoming an essential part of their portfolios.
This bodes well for the development space in KZN, as there are some exciting new projects in the wings which should be well received by the market. The key for developers, as always, is to price their projects correctly and to focus on contemporary architecture with easy open-plan living, keeping things simple and modern with a focus on lifestyle. Green features will, of course, sweeten the deal.
In closing, we anticipate that going green will be the theme for 2023, especially as we encounter ongoing service-related challenges throughout South Africa. We also believe that property will continue to be a sought-after commodity and that it will continue to show resilience, as it has done over the past three years. KZN will prop itself up and lifestyle will yet again emerge as its number one trump card, so with this in mind, we have chosen to adopt a cautiously optimistic outlook for 2023.