Renowned for its acclaimed educational facilities, including Rhodes University as well as other highly respected learning institutions, the town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape sees an influx not only of students, but also parents of students who make residential property acquisitions.
And, as Pam Golding Properties area principal, Daphne Timm points out many of these parents who are relocating their families for educational purposes tend to purchase top end, luxury homes. “A notable acquisition of this nature has just been made by a family who has relocated to Grahamstown in order to provide a sound education for their children – as did the previous owners of the property. In so doing, they have purchased a historic landmark property, The Hermitage, which was originally Sir Henry Somerset’s shooting lodge, for R7 million, which is the third highest price ever achieved for a residential property in the town.” The property was sold by Pam Golding Properties agent Debi Brody.
Born in 1794, Sir Henry Somerset was the eldest son of Lord Charles Somerset who was British Governor of the Cape from 1814 to 1826. This graceful, four bedroom, period home is set in spacious grounds of 6840sqm at 14 Henry Street, which is one of Grahamstown’s most beautiful streets.
Says Timm: “The home is in its original form with renovations carried out in keeping. A striking feature is Sir Henry Somerset’s coat of arms which remains vividly displayed in a stained glass fanlight over the hall. The home has five reception rooms, including a formal grand lounge and dining room, sumptuous kitchen and well appointed offices to work from home. The integrity of the house has been preserved with character-filled rooms which flow onto beautiful patios while gleaming wooden floors and high sash windows add to its warm appeal. There is also an extensive outdoor entertaining area with a swimming pool nestled in the private, landscaped garden.”
Pam Golding Properties also sold the previous highest priced homes in Grahamstown. In 2008 they sold a beautiful four bedroom home for R5.4 million, setting a new record for the town above the previous highest price of R4.5 million. Then in 2009 they achieved a new benchmark of R8.6 million and in 2011 concluded a further high end transaction in a similar price category with the sale of a home for R8.2 million.
Says Timm: “Over the past 23 months no properties had changed hands for over R4 million, until this very recent sale at R7 million. And now in the past few weeks we have sold another top end home for R5.6 million, which also belonged to parents who relocated so their children could attend leading educational facilities. This property is being renovated and will become a 5-Star guesthouse opening in June 2014. Another property, a beautiful Victorian home which has just been acquired by parents wanting to be near Kingswood College has also been sold by PGP, by agent Gregg Rippon for R3.65 million.
“Not only the luxury homes market, but also the residential market across all price ranges, is increasingly upbeat. While we have sold the bulk of properties in Grahamstown over the R5 million mark over the past seven years, we are also seeing increasing activity in all sectors. From fetching average selling prices between R766 000 and R850 000, PGP’s average selling price (in the area) since January this year has increased dramatically to R1.2 million, while buyers in this sector are also viewing homes up to around R1.5 million. Renewed confidence in the market is also seeing more middle to upmarket buyers once again looking at properties priced over R2 million.” Our highest demand for properties falls in the R750 000 to R900 000 range, as these are snapped up as soon as they come onto the market.
Timm says the rentals market is also on the up. “Over the past two years the additional new-build stock which became available somewhat saturated the market, resulting in muted growth in rental returns. However, this has turned around and investors are again achieving rental growth of 10 percent per annum.”
She says currently there is a high demand for rental accommodation for families, at rates which range from around R4500 for a small house to larger homes at R8500 per month. Student accommodation averages at around R2500 per room, or R5000 per month for a two bedroom apartment.