“…we may be about to see a shift of generational proportions toward an array of real estate demands, ironically induced – at least partially – by technology. Overcoming isolation is becoming increasingly imperative, as seen in such trends as co-working and co-living.”
– Emerging Trends in Real Estate: United States and Canada 2020
Collaborative seems to be the keyword in the property market for 2020. While South Africa may not have caught up with the US and Canada in regards to innovative work environments, the change is visible as many South Africans are also relying more and more on freelancing and working from home, while more and more companies outsource assignments which use to be handled in-office. Our property market, however, may have surpassed them already.
Over the last decade, the property market that arguably grew the most was that of sectional title properties, such as townhouses and apartments. The popularity of this choice of living arrangement, though, shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Recent years have seen the economic struggles of millennials and even older generations leaving them with little option but to opt for renting instead of investing in their own property. But even for those who can afford it, buying a property in uncertain times feels like too big a risk.
When we look at world news, considering the drastic changes in the Russian, English and American political landscapes, for example, it becomes clear that uncertainty for the future is not a “proudly South African” product at all. Over and above the politics, Greta Thunberg’s warnings of environmental threat flood our news feeds whether we want to think about it or not. Simply put, the people who invested in property in previous years, are no longer willing to take the risk. Not on their own, that is.
With co-living quickly rising in popularity. Families and friends are sharing yards more often, with garden flats just next to the main house, and often even sharing the house itself. Shared responsibility, shared accountability, and shared safety — this is what drives many homebuyers. Beyond the financial benefits, co-living also increases the sense of community and safety, allowing the residents to focus on the life within their home, instead of the one raging outside.
In the work environment, however, SA is sadly still lagging. The workforce is SA is primarily still office-based, relying on a single fixed income from one employer while trying to keep their heads above water. While not everyone’s work allows them to work from a laptop in a coffee shop, the ones who can work remotely are rarely accommodated. This, unfortunately, leads to more office space being taken up, and more office resources being used up than is actually necessary. That said, the market is changing, with home offices expenses now even being tax-deductible.
With more professionals choosing to work from environments other than traditional offices, the demand for collaborative workspace and working environments will increase. Working from a home filled with distractions, from TV to chores, simply isn’t ideal. Sitting amidst the smells of coffee and baked goods of a coffee shop, with constant conversation buzzing all day long, is equally disastrous for efficient work. That is why many freelance professionals are searching for workspaces that offer the same conducive environment an office would, without the downside of being constrained by office hours. Environments such as these are, however, rather scarce in SA, meaning there is a lack of supply for something that is quickly growing in demand.
The era of collaboration seems to have arrived.