Have you ever heard about nano apartments?
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t because it’s a relatively new concept that is taking the residential property market in Johannesburg by storm.
Nano apartments are 15 square meter flatlets that Huff and Froom, co-founders of Live Easy, developed by turning around under performing assets like industrial warehouses and converting them into studio apartment blocks.
Their first project – a block of 136 apartment units – was launched in Kew. Rentals for the units cost R2500 per month and they are targeted at households earning salaries between R5000 and R8000 per month.
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Huff says that the idea behind the business was to create affordable and inclusionary residential accommodation that is situated close to public transportation nodes around the city making mobility easy, while at the same time offering shared amenities like on-site playgrounds for children, a gym, braai area, a supermarket and a crèche – offerings that are typically associated with expensive residential estates.
“We’re an aspirational lifestyle brand that offers estate living for the lower LSM groups, a demographic that is currently underserved,” he says.
Huff’s sentiment is reflected in the fact that their first project, launched in September last year, was fully pre-let one month before residents were able to move in.
“We didn’t do any extraordinary marketing around the development, we did simple Google campaigns and word of mouth marketing yet we were able to get such an overwhelming response. This tells us that the demand for this type of accommodation seems insatiable,” he says.
With developments currently underway in Highlands North, New Doornfontein and Bramley set for launch between the end of the year and the first half of next year – expected to create an additional 2000 studio units – Live Easy has experienced substantial growth at a rapid pace.
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And that’s because funding has become easier to access now that the company has successfully proven market demand.
“The property market is a very capital hungry game and finding funders was the most challenging aspect of starting the business. There’s a perception, albeit it be a false one, about this market and so it was difficult to get people on board initially. We pitched to frontier funders and eventually a family helped us as equity funders. Now that we’ve proven the business case, we’re now starting to approach commercial institutions which are more receptive,” Huff says.
Over the next year, the Live Easy team plan to expand into executive one-bedroom apartment blocks – that will include a business floor with meeting and office spaces for entrepreneurs – for households or professionals on the rise.