With easy access to the majestic Drakensberg Mountain range and about a two hour drive from the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, the scenic Underberg area is experiencing a substantial increase in enquiries from home buyers, reports Angela Walker, area principal for Pam Golding Properties.
Walker says most purchasers are looking to buy homes under the R1 million mark, while interest in vacant land is for ‘bargains’ below R300 000. “While we are often still experiencing buyer resistance to prices, sentiment is positive and interest and sales of all types of properties have improved over the past six months.
“Freestanding homes in the price range between R1 million and R1.75 million are popular typically in areas such as Underberg or Himeville, where young families continue to settle in order to provide their children with a healthy, country lifestyle. Interestingly, after some years of very few sales of vacant land, we have seen renewed interest with three or four recent sales between R175 000 and R265 000 of plots varying in size from 2000 to 4000sqm.
“Also positive is that we have seen a flurry of sales within gated complexes including Fairmount Country Estate, which features just 26 properties on freehold plots with common property, overlooking the Underberg Golf Course,” she says. Here two of Pam Golding Properties’ (PGP) most recent sales have achieved prices of around R2 million each for completed three bedroom, three bathroom homes. She adds that Mountainairs Village, a well-established sectional title development, is always popular, particular for retirees.
PGP reports that another sector of the market which is experiencing a revival is the leisure homes market. “Smallholdings are mostly in demand for leisure use among those living on the KwaZulu-Natal coast,” says Walker, “and we have recently sold a number of these between four and 20 ha in size and ranging in price from R1.5 million to R4.6 million. Prices vary according to the type of improvements and very importantly, outlook, views and whether there is water or river frontage on the property.
“An appealing property which has all these qualities in abundance is a smallholding of 30.8ha which is tucked away in a tranquil valley in Himeville, close to the famous Sani Pass route into Lesotho.” With a four bedroom gracious country homestead as well as charming ‘Acorn Cottage’, the property includes extensive kitchen gardens and fruit trees providing year-round fresh produce as well as bee hives which provide a private stock of honey. Offering mountain views as well as those over the Mkomazana River and dam, this tranquil property set in spectacular surroundings is priced at R8.9 million through Pam Golding Properties.
Good demand for homes in Kokstad
In Kokstad, a rapidly growing town on the slopes of the Drakensberg, Walker says the market appears to have softened over the past 18 months, certainly from a price perspective. “Over-pricing and over-valuing remain an issue in the area, with successfully concluded sales often considerably below the asking price. Realistically priced, good quality properties still achieve their asking prices but the average property struggles if it is over-priced, as buyers are well-informed regarding the market.
“Currently the average price of a residential property in Kokstad is around R1 million. To give a broader view of the different price bands – a two bedroom home in Extension 7 or Longhomes would cost around R500 000, a three bedroom home in a fair area of town R1 million – or in a good area of town R1.5 million to R2 million, while the most appealing homes in the best areas would cost between R2 million and R4 million, with R2.5 million being the average for a good quality home in town. Smallholdings range from R1.5 million to R5 million for sizes that generally range between five and 50 hectares.”
Walker says Kokstad is experiencing a good demand for homes across all price ranges, but especially in the price bands from around R500 000 to R700 000 and over R2 million. She advises purchasers to be prepared to put down a deposit rather than try for a 100 percent bond.
“With a shortage of stock, the town is experiencing a huge demand for rental accommodation, with two bedroom flats fetching R5000 to R6000 per month and one bedroom units from R3000 to R4000 per month. As a result of the short supply prices continue to rise and unless the town expands and introduces further stock to cater for this market the status quo will remain. There are plans to build low/medium quality housing but this will be slightly further out of town and will not alleviate the demand from those who wish to live in town, close to jobs and amenities,” she says.
Walker adds that in the commercial property market there is a strong demand for retail space but very little quality stock available as owners are holding onto their properties. These are sought after primarily as rental investments but also from owner occupiers due to the high rentals tenants are having to pay – often in the region of R150 per square metre.