Is Sectional Title the Right Choice for You?

According to recent figures from ABSA, about 12% of South Africa’s total residential stock consists of sectional titles.

It would seem like there is little doubt that this percentage will increase in years to follow as more local homeowners follow international trends of purchasing apartments and townhouses, rather than freestanding homes.

In major metros such as Durban, Johannesburg, and Pretoria, sectional title units already account for a 1/3 of all home purchases and a 1/4 of purchase in Cape Town.

If you are thinking about buying a sectional title, you have definitely come to the right place!

First-time home buyers

Usually, the demographics of sectional title owners belong to first-time home buyers who want to get a foot in the door, or young professionals who seek a modern lifestyle.

However, the number of sectional title owners are slowly increasing because of middle-aged buyers who are seeking to downscale their lives because their freehold homes cannot offer them the security that they need as they grow older.

Sectional titles are then the perfect solution for the protection that they need in their golden years.

This means that the supply of sectional titles in areas has also increased due to its high demand. Flats and townhouses now account for about a 1/4 of all new home buildings.  A lot of the construction takes place in wealthier areas, such as Sandton, where multi-million Rand apartments are conveniently and stylishly located.

Other suburbs that are turning into business hubs are also boasting with modern sectional titles instead of huge mansions with perfectly trimmed hedges and lawns. This makes it easy for the young professional to focus on their career and not worry about maintaining a home.

Option: house vs apartment

It is important to remember that buying an apartment is not the same as buying a house: for one, you won’t have the freedom to expand your home as you’d like, and if you do decide to change something to the structure, you will need to consult with neighbors and potentially, the body corporate.

You might be able to paint the walls a different colour and decorate the interior any way you want to, but you will not be able to change the exterior. You might not even be able to keep a garden or a pet or put up a carport as a garage.

Matter of convenience

On the other hand, a sectional title that is run by a strong body corporate can provide homeowners with peace of mind and considerable convenience.

The maintenance of the building will be paid out of the monthly levies along with homeowners’ insurance, upkeep of common areas and security provisions. The levy might seem expensive, but then you need to keep in mind how much it would cost to do regular maintenance inside and outside a freestanding home.

Having said that, keep in mind that the running of the complex is dictated by the body corporate and disputes do arise concerning the levies and the way the complex is run.

Everybody has neighbors

Prospective buyers need to understand that they will be living within close proximity to others – some who might not be as friendly as others.

They must also be prepared to abide by the rules set out by the body corporate, even if they don’t agree with them.

Alternatively, those who intend on becoming trustees so that they can play a role in the managing of the complex, need to familiarize themselves with reams of legislation, rules, and regulations that govern sectional titles.

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