SAA. PHOTO: BUSINESS DAY

A SHARP uptick in demand for property in Mauritius is anticipated as the borders reopened to vaccinated South Africans on 1 October, says Séverine Dalais-Pietersen, a marketing executive for Seeff Mauritius.

Air Mauritius resumed weekly flights to South Africa on 1 October, with the island country having lifted its travel ban on South Africans in September with conditions.

Before arrival, passengers must complete a health form and a passenger locator form. You will also need to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours from the last point of embarkation.

As the island prepares for an influx of tourists, Dalais-Pietersen said there is a growing expat population which fuels demand for new developments and further contributes to the vibrant sales and rental market.

The island lifestyle, excellent infrastructure, including a good education, healthcare and a robust financial system along with attractive tax benefits including a flat rate of 15% (individuals and corporates) are part of the attraction for foreign buyers and investors, she said.

Pre-pandemic Mauritius boasted one of the strongest economies in Africa and was upgraded to a high-income country by the World Bank in mid-2020. It boasts the highest per capita wealth in Africa at $31,900, followed by South Africa at $10,310.

Approximately a quarter of real estate sales were to foreign buyers in the pre-pandemic period, and Dalais-Pietersen expects this to recover quickly depending on the pandemic.

“There may even be a boom as buyers look to escape the confines of the pandemic in their home countries. Bear in mind; few people have been able to travel over the last 18-months.”

After French buyers, South Africans comprise the second-highest volume of sales, with volumes rising rapidly – up from 14% five years go to 25%. New World Wealth estimates that some 280 of South Africa’s dollar millionaires have relocated to Mauritius since 2007.

Residential prices expanded by about 133% over eight years to 2019. The market is diversified across commercial and residential, offering sales, rentals and investment opportunities, Dalais-Pietersen said.

What are South Africans investing in?

Foreigners may only purchase and invest in certain designated property developments, but these are in excellent locations, generally along the coast, said Dalais-Pietersen.

There are several new developments around the sought-after north-western area close to Grand Baie of interest to South Africans. The most exciting is “The Welnest Residential Hideaway”, opposite the 5-star Maritim Resort and Spa about midway between Port Louis and Grand Baie.

It is next to Turtle Bay, Mauritius’s first protected marine park and close to the Turtle Bay 18-hole championship golf course, business centres, and schools.

“The development is operated by Maritim and offers 5-star beach resort amenities including direct beach and sea access, hotel services for all residences, restaurants, leisure centre with a host of features including a fitness centre and spa, mediation decks, yoga and tai chi.”

Seeff pointed to a choice of apartments with two to four bedrooms, four-bedroomed penthouses and villas with three to four bedrooms. Prices range from just over R5.8 million (MUR 15.7 million) (plus costs) for a two-bedroomed apartment.

The expected return on investment is 6%-7% per annum over ten years on average, or 4% fixed guaranteed return over five years, Seeff said. “There are attractive launch prices, and a deposit of only 10% is required to secure your unit,” said Dalais-Pietersen.

Visa options for South Africans when investing in property

Mauritius is a fabulous destination to own a holiday home in, but an increasing number of South Africans are relocating and retiring to the island, said Dalais-Pietersen. Given the accessibility from and to South Africa, it is ideal for second homes.

The investment needed for a residency visa now starts from only $375 000, down from the previous requirement of $500 000, as a property investment, said the marketing executive.

“Long-stay visas are now also available subject to certain conditions, which is a great option for remote workers or if you want to experience the lifestyle before making a permanent move,” said Dalais-Pietersen.

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