Buyers from overseas have returned to the popular destinations of Plettenberg Bay and Knysna on the Garden Route, says Ling Dobson, area principal for Pam Golding Properties. “And,” she says, “in addition to an influx of European visitors over the past summer and holiday season, for the first time we are seeing visitors from Sweden on our shores – mainly in Plett’, enjoying our scenic coastline and generally looking at golf estate properties in the price range from R3.5 million to R5 million.
“During an exceptional season we’ve noted international visitors from countries such as Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, the UK and America, with a number of these advising us of their return in June this year (2014) to complete property purchases. These are either holidaymakers who will utilise their newly acquired homes for holidays or those we refer to as ‘swallows’, namely those who spend several months of the year here. The Swedes are now also very evident, growing in numbers over the past six months – seeking their place in the African sunshine. We are also seeing international buyers looking to acquire guesthouses,” she says.
With three International Blue Flag beaches: Robberg 5th Beach, Keurboomstrand and Nature’s Valley, Plettenberg Bay has also recently been nominated as Africa’s Leading Beach Destination by World Travel Awards, in good company with other nominees: Bazaruto in Mozambique, Cape Town (2012 winner), Diani Beach in Kenya, Sharm El Sheikh (2010, 2011 winner) and Taba Heights in Egypt and Zanzibar (2013 winner) in Tanzania. Knysna’s Thesen Islands marina also has Blue Flag status.
Plettenberg Bay has much to offer residents and visitors. Apart from the 15km of beaches from Keurboomstrand to the Robberg Peninsula, the river, lagoon, bay and beaches are popular among fishing, boating and water sport enthusiasts and offer the best shore based whale watching of the area. Plett is also home to wildlife sanctuaries, game reserves and other recreational activities such as mountain biking and abseiling.
Says Dobson: “The quality of these beaches coupled with the spectacular coastline along this part of the Garden Route is a huge draw card for buyers both from overseas as well as elsewhere in South Africa, including Gauteng, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal. Since the start of 2014 we’ve noticed a marked uptick in the residential market, and for the first time in years have also seen developers return to the market, seeking large tracts of land for new developments.
Beachfront homes being renovated, even demolished
“In Plettenberg Bay it is very encouraging to see numerous vacant land sales taking place, which is always indicative of positive movement in the market. While the bulk of home sales have been up to around the R2.5 million mark, we are also seeing large homes being purchased for prices up to R10 million and extensively renovated. In fact at present in Beachy Head Drive alone there are about nine properties undergoing renovations. There are also homes being acquired and demolished to enable the owners to build their dream homes in a prime beachfront location – particularly front row properties.”
Dobson says Knysna is also enjoying in increase in the demand for residential property, mainly in the price band to approximately R5 million. A recent sale by Pam Golding Properties was a five bedroom (all en suite) home on The Heads which fetched R4.5 million. “Private, secure and with uninterrupted views, this luxury property was very well priced, particularly given its prime location.”
She adds that vacant land in Knysna is selling across a broad price range from R400 000 to R500 000 for stands of about 1000sqm, or 5000-7000sqm sites with ocean views priced at around R2-R3 million, to top end vacant land of R14 milllion for 1.77ha. “Homes in estates remain sought after as buyers continue to place a high priority on security, with prices of R2 million and R3 million being achieved for vacant stands in Pezula Private Estate, while completed homes are fetching prices from R4.8 million and upwards of R7 million on Thesen Islands, and R6 million to R11 million on Leisure Isle on the waterfront.
“In regard to residential property in general, there is also a strong demand in the price range from R1.5-R2.5 million among those seeking a home to retire to, with the bulk of these being local buyers. On Leisure Isle, which is surrounded by the waters of the Knysna estuary and linked to the mainland, we’ve seen quite a few frontline homes selling for R5 million, R6 million and R7 million. And on Thesen Islands, which is experiencing a shortage of stock, a mix of buyers upgrading – as well as those from Gauteng and Cape Town purchasing for leisure use and retirement, are acquiring homes for R5 million, R8 million or even R9 million,” says Dobson.
Values increase on Thesen Islands
“Of significance is that we have seen average prices increase considerably. For example on sought after Thesen Islands in Knysna the average house price in 2013 was R3.8 million, which increased to R4.8 million in early 2014 and is now in the region of R5.3 million. Spanning 90ha, Thesen Islands comprises 19 man-made islands linked by 21 arched bridges and surrounded by 25ha of tidal waterways. Residents have easy access to the mainland, waterfront, yacht harbour and Knysna’s town centre. Being a unique, special ‘pocket’ of land in a prime location, Thesen Islands has maintained property prices through the economic recession and has even seen a steady increase in house values of approximately 20 percent over the 12 months to end May 2014,” she says.
In Knysna, Pam Golding Properties also recently sold a light industrial property for R2.8 million to an out of town investor. Set on a stand of 1755sqm and with a building size of 1154sqm, the property is fully tenanted and achieving a yield of 10 percent per annum.