The search for wellness is driving prime residential real estate demand in Africa

Using data from Knight Frank’s Attitudes Survey and sample case studies, our Head of Residential Sales in South Africa investigates how the pandemic has changed how we feel about the places we call home
Written By:
Nick Gaertner, Knight Frank
6 minutes to read

The Attitudes Survey forms a key part of The Wealth Report, Knight Frank’s annual flagship publication for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and their advisors. The survey, which offers unrivalled insights into the homes, investments and lifestyles of private wealth, is based on responses from leading private bankers and wealth advisors around the globe – including many from across Africa.

This year, for the first time, we can split out our results individually for five countries in southern, east and west Africa. Below, we feature a selection of the responses relating specifically to prime residential investing in major real estate markets across the continent. Please get in touch to request the full results, which include real estate investment trends.

For many people the home has now become a hub from which they work, exercise, learn, socialise and relax. Trends towards wellness living and smart living are expected to take centre stage.

Until recently, one of the strongest considerations impacting homeowners’ decisions on where to buy has been proximity to their place of work. Generally, this would mean a trade-off between space and lifestyle amenities on the one hand and reduced travel times and access to the city on the other.

This demand for city living and proximity to urban centres across Africa underpinned the surge in prime residential properties around CBDs prior to the pandemic.

"In major cities such as Cape Town, it is now clear that “working from home” and flexible office hours are here to stay. As a result, there has been a meaningful shift in the mindset of homebuyers. Those who once considered proximity to work to be a key factor are now placing far more emphasis on a home that offers space and tranquillity."

Therefore, it was unsurprising that the majority of the respondents (leading private bankers and wealth advisors) to the latest Knight Frank Attitudes Survey ranked access to quality healthcare, proximity to leisure amenities and nearby open spaces as the top attributes their clients are now looking for in home purchases.

The biggest shift in buyer demographics has been the surge in demand from those aged between 25 and 45 years old. This segment comprises both first-time home buyers and young families, who are up to speed with changes in technology and able to adapt their working situation to spend more time at home with their families, while still working efficiently and effectively.

Suburban and countryside lifestyles outside of densely populated cities are appealing to the younger demographic now more than ever before. This trend is surely set to continue as technology evolves and the desire to create a home that caters to all aspects of one’s lifestyle – work, learning, exercise, relaxation and so on – becomes a more appealing and realistic proposition.

Throughout this section, we have looked at some exceptional examples of unique homes that offer incredible multi-purpose living and work-from-home environments.


Charles Macharia, Head of Research,
Knight Frank Kenya

What should we expect for the residential sector moving forward? It’s a question that has been at the top of our buyers’, investors’ and sellers’ minds. Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen reduced sales pricing and discounted rents, a trend we anticipate will continue into 2021.

As evidenced by our Knight Frank Kenya Buyer Survey, many respondents (50%) expect property prices to remain subdued over the next 12 months. Buyers are therefore in a unique position to leverage current price levels as the economy continues its gradual recovery.

"Respondents with future buying intentions have indicated that they are more likely to buy a second home out of the city as a safe haven in case of future outbreaks, lockdowns or disasters. This has been reflected in a surge in enquiries for prime properties at the coast and up-country recorded by Knight Frank in Kenya."

Residential design is also anticipated to form a core element of buyers’ specifications. With people spending more time at home, they have been able to experience first-hand whether their homes meet their current lifestyle needs and review what they would prioritise when buying a new one in the future. Space is clearly a concern, with 54% of respondents indicating that they are now more likely to buy a detached family home than they were pre-Covid.

In general, the pandemic has highlighted the relative resilience of the residential sector. While overall sales volumes did contract significantly initially, the sector has proved more resilient than other real estate sectors. There was a sharp rebound in transaction volumes following the
easing of the movement restrictions that had been imposed in the first half of 2020.

However, we anticipate that demand will continue to come under pressure in 2021. Landlords will therefore need to shift their strategies to preserve occupancies. Incorporating flexible workspace into developments and offering work-from-home furniture packages are expected to form part of the new measures to attract and retain tenants.

New entrants to the sector, mainly in the affordable housing space, coupled with expansion among existing operators, will boost supply in 2021.

Mortgage uptake levels are also expected to increase with the implementation of affordable housing programmes and the formation of the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company by the government to offer affordable mortgage financing. The initiative by the government to provide low-cost housing and repeal the interest capping law will also boost the uptake of mortgages.

Clifton Terraces – South Villa

Cape Town, South Africa

Tucked into Clifton’s mountainside, this five-storey villa embodies Cape Town’s finest expression of living. Sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles offer a lifestyle that captivates the imagination and provides unrivalled serenity.

Designed by world renowned architecture firm SAOTA, this five-bedroom en-suite masterpiece offers privacy and tranquillity, while still being just metres away from some of Cape Town’s world-famous Blue Flag beaches. The turnkey, 1 ,000 sq m villa offers state-of-the-art home automation, tailored with bespoke finishes and custom-made furniture, and complemented with a curated collection of art and design from South Africa’s most promising artists.

For more information, please contact:

Al Hamra Residence

Watamu, Kenya

Al Hamra Residence is set along the Kenyan coast, with stunning views of the Indian Ocean and private access to the powder white sands of Turtle Beach.

Completed to exacting standards, Al Hamra is thoughtfully designed to enhance indoor-outdoor living and exquisitely merges Moroccan and Swahili influences with contemporary styling.

Set on a one-acre plot with a lush garden, the house features four luxurious bedroom suites, a spacious rooftop terrace and a split-level entertainment area with a lounge, dining room, terrace and plunge pool.

This area overlooks a stunning courtyard with a swimming pool and is entirely open, allowing the ocean breeze to flow through the house. It is a sublime beachfront oasis that presents a unique lifestyle opportunity.

For more information, please contact: