"The 'live, work, play' market is a growing trend all over South Africa and I see this as a very big thing to come to Port Elizabeth. People are looking for convenience and affordability, so living close to all things that affect your life - such as work, shops and schools - is going to be a new way of living."
Gated communities such as these provide added security and have proved highly successful elsewhere in South Africa, says Stevens. Another positive was that rental returns and annual rental escalation in both Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape generally were the highest in the country, barring places such as the Northern Cape.
"Property funds are also starting to take notice of the local residential market. There is interest from property and investment funds in acquiring residential property as a long-term investment to diversify their portfolios.
"This has been happening elsewhere in the world for some time now, so I see this as a positive factor for (local) developers. Last year, we saw the first transaction of this type in our city, owing to favourable returns."
In general, the market has remained steady, but Stevens warns that negative factors continue to hamper growth. He says these included tightened lending restrictions, climbing interest rates, increased living costs owing to the weakening rand and the threat of a 16% electricity tariff increase.
Despite this, there was still considerable activity in the first-time home-owner market, with a growing rural to urban shift and increased demand for affordable housing in the R500,000 to R1.2m price range, he says. "Property will always be a safe investment, as long as you do your homework."