Mauritius is a magnet for South African property buyers

Mauritius is a magnet for South African property buyers

Artist’s impression of the new Ki Resort Apartments in Grand Baie, Mauritius.

Conveniently accessible by means of short, direct flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, the idyllic tropical island of Mauritius is proving irresistible for South African property investors wanting to diversify their investment portfolios as well as buyers wanting residency for themselves or their families.

Mauritius is currently ranked first in Africa and 20 out of 190 economies for ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings (Doing Business 2019). More and more South Africans are doing business with Mauritius, making it an ideal springboard for activity elsewhere on the continent, and tax rates for business and individuals are very attractive, at only 15% – with no capital gains or inheritance tax.

“There’s already a large South African expatriate community on the island, adding to its appeal and making for an easy transition for those permanently relocating,” says Richard Haller, director for Pam Golding Properties Mauritius.

“This trend continues to gather momentum with a surge in acquisitions by South Africans over the past few years, and the past 12 months in particular. Mauritius has certainly come to the fore, offering strong offshore investment opportunities in hard currency, as well as a secure lifestyle within a growing economy with a stable government, international schools and a growing tourism market. All this with appealing property investments priced from US$290 000. And, with purchases over US$500 000 you acquire permanent residency for you and your family.

Haller says most enquiries are from South Africans and also French buyers, including French expatriates living in Africa, who have a natural synergy with Mauritius, where both English and French is widely spoken. Buyers also come from Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and elsewhere in Europe.

For South Africans, interest continues to be centred around Grand Baie on the north coast and Black River in Tamarin on the west coast – areas where Pam Golding Properties offices are located – and in the price band from US$300 000 to US$2 million.

“Both these areas have developing infrastructure, numerous recreational activities and a sense of community which bodes well for those intending to live permanently on the island – including retirees – or enjoying regular leisure breaks here. There’s also a growing demand for property to rent from young families relocating for career opportunities,” says Haller.

“In this vein capital growth on investment is a key drawcard for property buyers, together with sound rental returns. In Grand Baie in the luxurious Mont Choisy Le Parc Golf & Beach Estate, where properties are currently priced from US$880 000, home owners have seen significant capital growth.

“For example, we have recently resold a number of villas at prices in the region of US$2m to US$6m, which reflects capital growth of 50 to 60% in just four years. Mont Choisy La Réserve, phase three of this premium estate, which is formally being launched in December 2018, offers a new opportunity to buy into the development.”

Facilities on the estate include the 18-hole Peter Matkovich championship golf course and clubhouse, beach club and leisure centre including tennis, action court, yoga, gym and spa.

“We’re also seeing huge returns in Element Bay, a few minutes from Grand Baie, where we’ve just concluded a resale for a two-bedroom penthouse which was bought for US$370 000 and sold for US$500 000 three to four years later. This development includes a gym, a swimming pool and variety of water sport activities and is only a minute’s walk to the beach.”

Rental incomes are also providing owners in prime located developments such as these with 3.5 to 4.5% gross yield a year on top of capital growth. Adds Haller: “On all the residential development units we are selling we now offer a fully-fledged rental service whereby we manage the property, source and scan tenants and collect rental on behalf of the owners. The other option is a short-term rental where a property enters a rental pool and is let to holidaymakers for up to 65 days’ usage and 125 days for the owners’ use.”

At Mont Choisy, where Pam Golding Properties have sold out the first two phases, furnished luxury three-bedroom penthouses are let at US$350 a night and for US$160 for self-catering units at the more mid-level Element Bay.

Increasingly, says Haller, the trend among travellers is to look for luxury rentals which resemble more of a home-from-home than a hotel. They prefer standalone villas or luxury apartments where they can enjoy luxury island living while using on site facilities like a resort. Expatriates on work contracts generally look for corporate rentals for about three years, mostly in the Rs50 000 to Rs130 000 a month price range (US$1 500 to US$3 800), while luxury rentals are between Rs130 000 and Rs325 000 (US$3 800 to US$9 500).

In the north in Grand Baie Pam Golding Properties is marketing a new resort-style development called Ki Resort Apartments, which is aimed at the South African residency and investment market. This is in Pereybere, a few hundred metres from the coastal road, offering access to the developers’ 2BeachClub right on Pereybere beach. Two-bedroom units are priced from US$290 000. Residents have access to large swimming pools, a gym, a café, underground parking and store rooms.

Another development in Grand Baie, a minute’s walk from the beach and 2BeachClub, is Serenity Villas, with three- and four-bedroom villas priced from US$2.66m. Designed by architect Stefan Antoni of SAOTA, the estate includes a fitness centre and a swimming pool in landscaped gardens.

Akasha Villas, a luxury development in an elevated position with sea and mountain views in Black River near the airport on the west coast, is under construction. This development consists of freestanding, three to six-bedroom villas with large verandas and spacious living areas priced from US$910 000.

Also marketed through Pam Golding Properties in a beachfront location in Black River is another resort-style development, Asmara Beachfront Residences, with views of the La Tourelle mountain range. Apartments are priced from US$660 000.

Haller says it’s very rare for foreigners to be able to buy units on a beachfront site in a development such as this, with a pool and beach club, a tennis court, a gym and a spa.

Boom in commercial real estate

Adds Haller: “With more and more companies setting up business in Mauritius, from as far afield as South Africa, India, China and countries in Asia, Europe and America, the island has experienced a boom in commercial real estate activity. Increased demand is resulting in the development of many new office, industrial and warehouse buildings – notable growth which is expected to continue for sometime.

“At present commercial property enjoys a yield of about 8% a year. Helping fuel the demand for high quality office and retail space is the increase in middle-class consumers adopting a Vida e café culture and wanting to enjoy a vibey retail experience with new brands.

“As a consequence of this boom in the commercial space, we are seeing a strong demand for good A grade office space as well as warehousing in the Freeport Zone, which is a sizeable duty-free logistics, distribution and marketing hub. Having launched Pam Golding Commercial earlier this year, we have a selection of premium offices, warehouses and commercial developments available for rent or purchase in the prime business districts of Ebene, just south of the capital of Port Louis, Port Louis itself, Grand Baie and Tamarin, among others.”

Commercial property currently available includes brand new A grade space in the four-storey Mont Choisy Business Quarters in Pointe aux Canonniers in the north of Mauritius. The building is scheduled to be completed in July 2019, and investors or owner-occupiers have the option to customise these shells and core office spaces. Sizes vary from 32m2 to 94m2 plus parking, and prices range from US$105 000 to US$ 308 000. The building will have 24-hour security, CCTV cameras and high-speed fibre optic.