Interest in Karoo property is rapidly reaching the levels experienced during the last property boom up to 2008/9, reports Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties manager for the Karoo.
“There are many reasons why interest in Karoo property is currently so high and is being spurred on – with the four main drivers being value for money, the quality country lifestyle on offer, escaping urban pressures and the need to ‘get away’, and the safety and security of Karoo living,” says Rubidge.
He says coupled with the generally improved market sentiment, there are a variety of other reasons that are stimulating interest in the Karoo. “For example, where else can you acquire a historical home that meets these criteria above and more – all for R250 000.
“The Karoo region is vast, comprising around 30 percent of the surface area of South Africa and home to over 50 towns and farming districts. This bouquet of destinations offers buyers an unbeatable range of investment choices. Each town is located in a unique setting with a myriad of property choices all offering the four key points of interest.
“While each town is very different from the next there is a underlying commonality between them all as most towns in the Karoo were built in the 19th century, making them approximately 150 years old. The common thread in all these towns is that they all offer the classic Karoo style vernacular architecture which includes wooden floors and ceilings which are most often Oregon pine or Yellowwood, the famous Karoo stoep or veranda and spacious rooms with high ceilings well adapted to the Karoo climate.
“Added ‘charm’ factors for Karoo homes are other features such as a borehole with a windmill in your back yard, stone features such as those found around the perimeter walls or stone outbuildings still with original features. In many cases fittings are still original and incorporate nostalgic features like a Aga stove, as well as numerous fireplaces which all further enhance the special reward and enjoyment of acquiring your own Karoo home,” says Rubidge.
He says currently many of the smaller classic Karoo towns are receiving a facelift as a result of the investment by owners into their unique properties. Towns like Richmond, Phillipstown, Steynsburg, Aberdeen, Bethulie, and many more offer exceptional value, and a three bedroom home can be purchased for as little as R300 000.
“Some towns such as Lady Grey, Rhodes, Nieu Bethesda and Loxton are in essence beautiful country villages where country living is taken to a new level. Here property prices tend to be slightly higher than the classic Karoo towns due to the small size of these villages, with limited availability of property and sustained demand. The slightly larger towns are also showing signs of a mini property boom. Towns such as Middelburg, Somerset East, Beaufort West and Carnarvon, which all have schools and a wider range of services, are attracting different buyers due to the extra amenities and services on offer.”
Rubidge says Karoo towns like Prince Albert and Graaff-Reinet are examples of what a country town can achieve and many of the smaller more out of the way towns are starting to mimic the success stories of these towns. A case in point is Richmond, which is the official Booktown of Africa with over 50 000 books on offer. Carnarvon is at the epicentre of an international astronomy project which began with ‘Meerkat’ and eventually saw the multi-billion rand SKA project come to fruition. Each town is drawing on its unique potential and is showing signs of sustainable country living, with more and more visitors travelling to the Karoo to participate in the over 100 events and festivals taking place on an annual basis.
He advises prospective property buyers in the Karoo to look to acquire now while there is still a large selection offering great value. Interest in Karoo property covers most price ranges and categories from affordable, unbeatably priced vacant stands starting at R15 000 and historic Karoo houses starting at R200 000 to luxury Karoo homes and includes farms of all categories and price ranges.
Says Rubidge: “When looking to buy a property in the Karoo – whether you are a first time home owner looking at entry level properties, a property investor considering commercial opportunities, a property restorer wanting to buy and restore a historical Karoo home, or you are looking for a lifestyle change – the following aspects can be taken into consideration.
“Almost anywhere in the Karoo you can be within three hour’s drive of a city or a big urban centre so choose the town that is in close proximity if you plan on using the property as a holiday or weekend home.
“Each town has its own pulse and beat so choose a town that meets your needs. For example if you want to grow produce, and have gardens choose a town that has abundant water which is often in the form of lei water. This means that water rights are attached to each property with the lei water often running in stone furrows from the village or town fountains.
“Choose the town that offers properties in your price range. For example Prince Albert is the flagship Karoo town with an unsurpassed quality of life, good cuisine, secure environment, and like most towns – great scenery and a healthy outdoor life. In Prince Albert large luxury homes sell for up to R3 million, with perennial demand due to the town’s proximity to Cape Town (approximately a four-hour drive) and a vibrant community.”
Rubidge adds that not all houses in the Karoo are of historical origin and most towns also have more modern homes with less restoration undertaken or required. He says an alternative is to invest in a vacant stand in the Karoo. In Phillipstown there are numerous large agricultural stands in excess of 2000sqm in size which are available from R20 000.