Areas and Places

Knysna property on a recovery path

The Knysna residential property market hit an all-time high in 2008/2009 – but when the recession made itself felt in the years that followed the property market here, as in many coastal towns where a high proportion of homes are second or holiday homes, was among the hardest hit. Since 2009 it has been possible to buy a home in Knysna at prices that were 30 to 40% lower than those of previous peaks, said Peter Southey, Rawson franchisee for the Knysna area.

Southey has owned and operated the Rawson franchise in Knysna since 2004 and today has a team of four agents. This team, he says, has now assembled a huge number of houses for sale on their stock list – they have some 400 altogether – and although some continue to be overpriced, a good portion, he says, represent excellent buys with an almost guaranteed long term potential for value increases, which, he believes, will be seen from 2014 onwards.

“I think that we have turned the corner and that the prices will rise slowly from next year onwards,” said Southey, “but at the moment they are stagnant. We are already selling two to four homes per month, although it must be confessed that July was a very poor month. Generally, however, all agencies report that sales volumes have increased.”

The big demand at present, he said, is in the sub-R1,5 million bracket, and it is possible, if one buys in the town, to find homes priced as low as R800,000 here. These will probably be old (some even over 100 years old) and may well be listed as heritage properties and they may also need some attention. Nevertheless, stock shortages in this market are already becoming apparent and the growth potential here is, says Southey, excellent.

Out of town, he says, prices are almost always above R1,5 million, and this market is still definitely slanted in favour of the buyer. To find the sort of home most out-of-town buyers are looking for, says Southey, it is usually necessary to pay above R2 million. Here again, he is absolutely confident that the long term growth potential is there.

Southey reminds us that for several years Knysna was ranked in a countrywide Engen client survey as South Africa’s favourite town. Apart from the spectacular scenery, one reason for this, he says, is that it has very low crime figures. Today it still ranks high in this respect, especially as many suburbs now operate highly effective neighbourhood watch teams, which, teamed up with local security companies, often achieve almost nil crime figures.

Although he does not fully accept them, Southey says that certain figures from a national analytical survey company are indicative of the Knysna property market trends today. In 2008, the survey recalls, the average house price was R1,6 million. This dropped to R1,1 million in 2011, but in 2012 rose to R1,684,000.

“This figure”, says Southey, “probably includes two or three very high priced sales at The Heads and in the Pezula Private Estate, and is therefore not wholly correct. However, it does, I think, confirm that the market has bottomed out and we are clearly on a recovery path.”

Asked what in his view sets an estate agency apart from its rivals, Southey said that a service which his team believes to be absolutely crucial is being able to give a truly accurate valuation of the property from the outset. He is now on the last lap of a lengthy valuer’s course and has found it to be extremely rewarding.

Giving three properties now on his books which he would consider good buys, Southey mentioned the following, each of which is typical of its price category:

· Priced at R799,000, this property is on a double stand with great potential. The home is over 100 years old and with a few renovations could be an excellent buy. The house is within walking distance of all amenities in town.
· Priced at R2,350,000 and situated in a retirement village that is seeing very high demand, this spacious cottage has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. The estate is well established and offers a safe and pleasant retirement option, as well as delightful views of the lagoon.
· Priced at R8,950,000, this three bedroom home is in the prestigious Pezula Private Estate — an eco-estate with high standards of privacy and beautiful sea views. The home is an entertainer’s dream with spacious reception areas.

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