Real estate in South Africa

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has the extensive expertise, experience and resources to compete at the forefront of each key real estate segment. It has bolstered its standing in big-ticket real estate financings, including those involving structured finance and securitisation structures. It has earned accolades for its work in major residential developments on the basis of long-term lease models, and it has stood apart in the REITs sector. Although real estate doyen Attie Pretorius has retired, Werner de Waal has taken over much of his legacy practice. At the same time, department head John WebberLucia Erasmus and William Midgley are at the pinnacle of the profession.

Practice head(s):

John Webber

Other key lawyers:

Werner de Waal; Lucia Erasmus; William Midgley; Simóne Franks; Muhammad Gattoo 


‘CDH displays true professionalism, work ethic, a high degree of availability and quick turnaround times on short notice in the majority of cases. Their knowledge and expertise is also first class.’

‘The individuals we deal with are experts in their fields, which ensures that as a client I get a very clear understanding of what I can and can’t do.’

‘John Webber is a pioneer with regard to leasehold developments in South Africa.’

‘John Webber is willing to propose new ideas and solutions to accommodate the interests of various stakeholders. John is almost always contactable and reverts with well considered and formulated solutions.’

Simóne Franks is always quick to respond and addresses any concerns clearly. With more difficult transactions, she facilitates constructive discussions between the parties with a view to resolving any issues amicably.’

‘Muhammad Gattoo is hands on, engaged and actively seeks out solutions. His team is always willing to go the extra mile.’

Key clients


Total South Africa


Pareto Property Fund





Century Property Developments

Middle Lusutfu Hydropower

Game Camp

Sasol Pension Fund


Sanlam Life Insurance

Work highlights

  • Advised Transcend Residential Property Fund on its R1.3bn acquisition of 2,159 residential units.
  • Advised Abland and Game Camp, which formed a joint venture with Tiber Investments, in relation to the development of Sandton Gate, a mixed-use precinct development.
  • Advised Nedbank’s Corporate Investment Banking division on the registration of mortgage bonds over the property portfolio of Khula Sizwe Property, which Khula Sizwe is acquiring from Barloworld, as part of Barloworld’s B-BBEEE public share offering.


ENSafrica boasts a stable and highly-experienced senior team in this space. The wide ranging practice centres on major engagements, including coastal resort developments, mixed-use developments, residential housing developments, land claims as part of the government's land reforms, land rights connected to game reserves and national parks, and high-value real estate investments. Andrew Bembridge leads the department, is a frequent adviser on major real estate matters, and is a recognised authority on land rights and restitution laws of South Africa. Len Vorster and Fritz Schulz are also highly rated practitioners.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Bembridge

Other key lawyers:

Len Vorster; Fritz Schulz 


‘They live and breathe the matter until conclusion. They continually keep the client informed on the progress of the matter.’

‘Solution driven and a never give-up attitude.’

‘Andrew Bembridge’s experience stands out above everything else.’

‘Andrew Bembridge always tried to come up with a solution.’

‘Lee-Anne Hopley is extremely knowledgeable and is always willing to assist and provide advice on matters.’  they are dealing with or whether is it just a question one wishes to bounce off her.’

Whilst still very professional, Lee-Anne Hopley is like a friend and a colleague even though we are her client.

Key clients

Columbus Stainless

Goldman Sachs International

Horizon Capital Holdings

Investec Bank


Sabi Private Game Reserve

Sun International

University of the Witwatersrand

Zwelabantu Dube Community Property Association

Work highlights

  • Represented long-standing client Zwelabantu Dube, as land owner, in relation to the Blythedale Coastal Resort.
  • Advised Sabi Private Game Reserve in connection with its interests in the Trans-frontier National Park with the intention to contract with the Kruger National Park to secure certain rights.

Webber Wentzel

Webber Wentzel's real estate practice has stood up to the economic downturn and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Johannesburg team led by Mark McIntosh has seen renewed activity in renewable energy project-related work and an uptick in student accommodation engagements. Sulani Jooste's group in Cape Town has experienced growth in rezoning real estate, notably converting office buildings into residential accommodation. Offloading and portfolio reduction has been a continuing theme too. Former Cape Town partner Zunaid Rawoot has left to launch his own practice.

Practice head(s):

Sulani Jooste; Mark McIntosh


‘WW always delivers, especially on time sensitive matters. Quality and expertise is displayed in all interactions.’

‘The team is well-versed in real estate matters and is always willing to assist with logical well thought-out recommendations. The quality of the team and its offering is outstanding.’

‘Sulani Jooste keeps us informed every step of the way. She is proactive and always delivers on time.’

‘Sulani Jooste is client focused and exceeds our exceptions. She is professional and treats each deal with the utmost integrity.’ 

‘Mark McIntosh has the ability to find a workable solution under the most testing of circumstances, but most importantly allows business to continue. Mark‘s legal knowledge coupled with his business acumen and ability allows him to come up with the most innovative and commercially sound solutions.’ 

‘Mark McIntosh is driven, customer-centric and always willing and able to provide a well-thought out solution to any legal quagmire.’ 

Key clients

Investec Bank

FirstRand Bank


Standard Bank


Inospace Proprietary  and Dealcommerce Property Fund

The Brooklyn Project

Klapmuts Engineering

IRes Group

Nordic Light Properties

Bushveld Minerals South Africa

Hosken Consolidated Investments

The Badenhorst Group

Orcinus Properties

Chambers and Promenade Real Estate

Sulnisa Property Holdings

Work highlights

  • Advised on the drafting of various loan agreements and security documents related to the establishment of business parks to the value of R100m.
  • Advised on a matter involving the development of 2200 new student apartments in Johannesburg to the value of R350m.

Werksmans Attorneys

Werksmans Attorneys advises some of the most prominent real estate developers and financial institutions in the market. The practice has an extensive record in the hotel and leisure, retail and commercial real estate sectors. This includes both investment and development engagements. At a more granular level, it has been at the forefront of real estate fund formation, including Section 12J investment structures in South Africa. The eminent team is spread across its Johannesburg, Cape Town and Stellenbosch offices. Fátima Rodrigues and Hendrik Kotze lead the department from Johannesburg and Stellenbosch respectively.

Practice head(s):

Hendrik Kotze; Fátima Rodrigues

Key clients

ABSA Capital

Berman Bros Property Developers

Bigen Africa Project Management

Business Partners

Castle Estates

CRI Eagle Investments


Intaprop Property Development and Investment

Investec Bank

Investec Property Fund

Investec Property

National Research Foundation


New Property Ventures

Omnigro Property Developers


Oxford Parks


Pioneer and Quantum Food Holdings

Redefine Properties

RMB Private Bank



Southern Sun Hotel Interests

Standard Bank

Steyn City Properties

The Capital Group Apartments and Hotels

Tsogo Sun Holdings

V&A Waterfront Holdings

Vantage Property

Waterfall Management Company

Work highlights

  • Advised Castle Estates on  the proposed large scale mixed-use development along the West Coast (Vredenburg/ SaladanahBay Municipality district).
  • Assisted West Property Fund with all aspects of the establishment of a South African property fund and the establishment of a UK property fund.
  • Advised Investec Bank on its acquisition of all of the shares in Omwieco, the owner of a large scale mixed-use property development.

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP is a major player in real estate financing, particularly in cross-border deals. It represents a range of banks, real estate developers, REITs and other funds in this sector. South Africa managing partner Lionel Shawe is a preeminent banking and finance expert with a significant focus on the real estate segment. Counsels Nick Grootes and Cynthia Venter are also experienced in real estate finance.

Practice head(s):

Lionel Shawe; Nick Grootes

Other key lawyers:

Cynthia Venter

Key clients

Absa Bank

The Standard Bank of South Africa

Respublica Student Living

Liberty Two Degrees

FirstRand Bank (acting through its Rand Merchant Bank division)


Investec Bank

Standard Chartered Bank

Emira Property Fund

Work highlights

  • Acted for The Standard Bank of South Africa, lender to Growthpoint Investec African Properties in connection with a $50m equity bridge facility for the acquisition of all of the shares and other interests in RMB Westport Real Estate Fund.
  • Advised FirstRand Bank (acting through its Rand Merchant Bank division) and Nedbank  in connection with financing facilities made available to Respublica Student Living for the refinancing of an existing term facility and an existing vendor financing facility.


Bowmans represents a large number of banks, developers, and listed and unlisted property funds, in financing acquisitions, disposals and the development of commercial, industrial and retail real estate in South Africa and beyond. It has an extensive record in lease and development lease agreements for both landlords and tenants, and frequently conducts real estate due diligence investigations linked to corporate transactions. Department head Craig Schafer and Samantha Saffy are highly rated for development, investment and financing engagements.

Practice head(s):

Craig Schafer

Other key lawyers:

Samantha Saffy; Julia Power

Key clients

African Rainbow Minerals


Massmart Group and Masstores

FirstRand Bank

Crowie Property Developments

Eris Property Group

Royal Bafokeng Platinum



Absa Bank

Frankenwald Development

Work highlights

  • Advised Frankenwald on an option and development agreement concluded with the University of Witwatersrand, affording it the right to conduct various feasibility studies in respect of the potential development of a tract of land known as Frankenwald Estate.
  • Advised Eris and WBHO, as co-owners and developers, on all aspects of the development of a  student accommodation development in Hatfield, Pretoria.
  • Advised RMB in respect of a development, VAT and term loan facility made available to a unincorporated partnership for the purpose of financing the significant expansion and redevelopment of Galo Mall in Francistown, Botswana.

Glyn Marais

Glyn Marais has a major focus on the real estate sector, representing a number of big-name property developers and funds including large listed entities. It has an extensive record in specialised property funding schemes and the variable loan stock structure.  Brian Frank is hugely experienced in real estate matters, including large-scale retail, commercial, industrial, residential and leisure developments, along with due diligence investigations into large property acquisitions. Francois Marais also has a hugely impressive background in real estate, including the development of the variable loan stock structure in South Africa.

Key clients

Growthpoint Properties

Johannesburg Land Company

V & A Waterfront Holdings

One and Only Cape Town

Stadium Management

Accelerate Property Fund

Alchemy Property Management Services

Property Development and Projects

Eye of Africa Developments

Sector Five Trading 112

Danaug Investments

Azrapart Property

African Kingdom Holdings

Texton Property Fund


Lawtons Africa

Lawtons Africa has maintained a steady deal flow in asset acquisitions, transfers and financings. It continues to represent a number of corporate clients and real estate developers. Penny Chenery is an experienced figure in the real estate sector, while Melissa Leibowitz is noted for real estate finance. Emili Souris has left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Penny Chenery

Other key lawyers:

Melissa Leibowitz

Key clients

Silicon Smelters

Imperial Group

Enate Properties 4

Centre of the Sun Properties

Braamby Trading

DCI Community Housing Services (NPC)

Work highlights

  • Assisted Enate Properties 4 with all the legal aspects relating to the conversion of an old telephone exchange building into loft-style residential apartments.
  • Assisted Centre of the Sun Properties with the transfer of a hotel known as Sunny Park Hotel to HR Hotels Holdings.
  • Advised Silicon Smelters on the disposal of non-core assets for SiS, a local subsidiary of FerroGlobe, including a portfolio of 26 timber farms with active plantations situated across more than 13,000 hectares of land in three provinces in South Africa.

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc's real estate team remains at the heart of South Africa's renewable energy programme. It represents lenders, sponsors and developers in the roll-out of multiple projects, while also having a pivotal role in social housing programmes and other infrastructure projects. The disposal and unbundling of assets in the mining sector has also featured prominently for the department. The firm has also maintained prominence in lending to real estate developers and investors, along with asset disposals and acquisitions. Pieter Niehaus leads the sizeable team.

Practice head(s):

Pieter Niehaus

Other key lawyers:

Douglas Tatham; Carina van Vuuren; Mieke Janse van Rensburg; Elizabeth McCaul

Key clients

Absa Bank


Standard Bank of South Africa

FirstRand Bank (acting through its Rand Merchant Bank division)

RFW Lonmin Investments

QCP1 Investments

Oneeighty Asset Management Two

United States International Development Finance

Federal-Mogul Motorparts (part of the Tenneco Group)

BMW Group


Nedbank (including Nedbank CIB and Nedbank Capital)

Aveng Africa

Rabie Property Group

Investec Private Bank

Exxaro Resources

JP Morgan Chase

Work highlights

  • Advised Absa on a R450m facility made available to Octodec Investments.
  • Advised Standard Bank of South Africa on senior secured facilities and a mezzanine facility made available to Rapfund.
  • Advised the United States International Development Finance Corporation on the funding of a $20m corporate loan to Calgro M3 Developments.

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP is principally focused on real estate finance, including to single asset and multi-property portfolios, development and construction loans, revolving mortgage and term loans, leasehold mortgage loans, mezzanine financings and securitisations. Department head Quintin du Plessis has close links to key lenders in the market, including outside South Africa, including handling recent Rwandan deals.

Practice head(s):

Quintin du Plessis


‘They are personal and always have time for their clients.’


Key clients

Absa Bank

Ashburton Investments

Cavaleros Group

Development Bank of Southern Africa

FirstRand Bank


Ironside Investments

International Finance Corporation

Investec Bank

Lisam Property Investments


Rand Merchant Bank

Stanlib Asset Management

Sanlam Capital Markets

The Standard Bank of South Africa

Transaction Capital

Trust for Urban Housing Finance

Zamani Capital

Work highlights

  • Represented Nedbank in relation to a real estate finance bridge facility granted to the Investec Property Fund.
  • Advised the International Finance Corporation in relation to its debt and equity investments into the Kinyinya housing development, which forms part of the larger Green City Kigali project in Rwanda.
  • Advised the lenders in connection with the restructuring of debt facilities advanced to Rebosis.