Property Flash


February 21 2024

Landsdowne Property Group (Landsdowne), one of South Africa’s largest residential and office real estate managers, has been appointed to manage Orlando Towers Estate; the first sectional title and lifestyle development in Soweto.

The estate, which is being developed in stages, recently handed over the first phase comprising 136 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments to mostly first-time homeowners. Many of these buyers are aspirant as they join the property ladder for the first time. On completion, Orlando Towers Estate will have 568 apartments priced from R600 000 to R980 000. It will be positioned as an address of choice for people who work at the entrance of Soweto, at institutions such as The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, which is the world’s third largest hospital.

Orlando Towers Estate was co-developed by Urban Dev and Sylt. Urban Dev was founded by Derek Steyn, a co-founder of Calgro Homes. Calrgro Homes later listed as Calgro M3. Sylt is a private investment and property development company located in Johannesburg. Louis Barnard, a director at Sylt, has been a key mind behind Orlando Towers Estate.

Landsdowne CEO Jonathan Kohler said he had been looking for opportunities in large multi-use areas like Soweto.

“We see massive growth potential for sectional title management in Soweto, as new models in urban living in traditional townships increase on the back of demand for secure lifestyle environments,” he said.

“Developments such as Orlando Towers Estate help to improve the area’s appeal, especially to many young people who grew up in freestanding homes and are now transitioning into secure communal living. It also brings more purpose, enabling those who want to leave their maternal homes to still live in the area but in a development of their choice,” said Kohler.

Landsdowne oversees numerous property groupings including housing estates. It has a portfolio of more than 35 000 sectional title apartments and freestanding clusters countrywide under management. The group is also involved in estate management, property sales, rental and rental management, off-plan sales and marketing, financial services, utility and solar solutions to body corporates as well as insurance solutions for individual homeowners.

Founded by Kohler in 2004, the group has grown rapidly. It manages any development from an affordable sectional title scheme in Soweto with properties priced at below a million rand to sectional title apartments and freestanding homes and commercial properties in multi-billion rand developments such as Steyn City.

Orlando Towers Estate is Landsdowne’s first venture into the township. Kohler said managing a sectional title development requires expertise in property and financial management as well as homeowners’ buy-in when it comes to levy payments to ensure the development’s long-term sustainability.

“When people buy into a sectional title scheme, the first thing they want to know is the financial position of the scheme as this gives them confidence that their investment will grow in value over time. This, in turn, has a direct impact on the price that the seller can negotiate,” he said.

Landsdowne educates residents on sectional title living. This includes factors such as the importance of levies, body corporate rules and policies around pets, acceptable noise levels in the scheme, and which portions of the building are common property.

At Orlando Towers Estate, many residents are first-time homeowners with the balance being buy-to-let investors.

“Orlando Towers Estate is leading the way in driving urban living in traditional townships, and this will unlock a massive new market for potential buyers and tenants who demand a secure lifestyle in the area they grew up in,” said Kohler.

Barnard said Orlando Towers Estate was part of the Orlando eKhaya precinct. The position is attractive for young families and people who work in a thriving part of Soweto. Each apartment is sized 34m2 for a 1-bed, 45m2 for a 2-bed and 68m2 for a 3-bed. The development lies around 900m from Baragwanath Hospital and is also close to Bara Mall.

Sylt has in the past developed student housing. It operates as a community employer and people involved in Orlando Towers Estate largely come from the surrounding ward.

Barnard says the development has been rewarding, having faced many challenges along the way. Since launching in October 2022, interest rates have climbed 4% which has made it more difficult for people to apply successfully for bonds on their apartments. The FLISP (First Home Finance. & Subsidy Assistance) programme has also been poorly managed which has made it difficult for applicants to get housing subsidies.

Urban Dev and Sylt are considering renting out large portions of the development. Right now some 10 units are being rented out at about 0.85% per annum of the purchase price. This sits at between R6000 and R8000 per month. The apartments receive Wi-Fi. The development will be rolled out over five years. The main barriers to more developing are a shortage of land. The precinct will be worth about R1.5bn and will include piped gas and solar facilities.

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