Witsand, the charming river estuary and sea-front village 320 km east of Cape Town, is experiencing a remarkable upswing in popularity – with the result that Leon and Hanli Pretorius, the Rawson Property Group’s franchisees for this area, were prominent among the award winners at the Rawson Property Group’s recent bi-annual Western Cape awards’ function. The Pretorius pair took the 1st prize for rentals nationally and were praised by the Rawson Property Group’s head office for achieving so many sales.
Hanli Pretorius, who handles the sales side of this operation, said that the vast majority of the sales have been at the Breede River Lodge where, in general, the prices are far less expensive than those of freestanding homes along this section of the coast and on the river banks. Back in 2009, said Pretorius, a number of suites and apartments in the lodge had been put up for sale – and in the last year she has sold 21 of these units, half already having been transferred and the remainder now in the pipeline and due for transfer soon.
The units, said Hanli Pretorius, vary in size from single bedroom bachelor pads, to three-bedroomed, three-bathroomed suites. About 70% have self-catering facilities.
The prices vary from R200,000 to R1,850,000 and buyers are able to put their units into a rental pool – which nearly all of them do.
This pool, says Leon Pretorius, who handles this franchise’s rentals, is now functioning very well, with most owners getting up to a 10% return on their purchase price if they do not occupy the units themselves for over two months per annum. On average, he said, apartments bring in between R20,000 to R120,000 per annum here.
“Obviously occupancies are higher in summer than in winter, but Witsand’s very dry climate (less than 70mm of rain per month in June and July) makes this area highly suitable for winter breaks.”
The lodge’s waterfront suites, he said, rent out at R560 per day in winter and over R1,000 per day in summer and the self-catering apartments at R1,800 to R2,700 per day. In general, said Pretorius, the waterfront suites are occupied for at least 60% of the time and the self-catering units roughly 25% of the time.
Rental tariffs, said Pretorius, have been kept unchanged for three consecutive years, but the income per annum increased by 20% in the last year.
Having proved his team’s ability in the rental arena, Pretorius was asked by the developer to take over the entire booking, housekeeping and laundry operation for the Breede River Lodge and his team now does that.
Pretorius says he has staff on duty from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week, and they find that booking and, indeed, sales enquiries come through at all times of the day, as well as over weekends.
The franchise has now bought the reception area at the lodge and run their entire rental operation from there. The sales office, however, is still at 1 Main Road Witsand.