Areas and Places

Sellers in charge in Welkom property market

This four-bedroom family home in Welkom is for sale through RealNet Goldfields for R850,000. It has spacious living areas, three bathrooms and a beautiful solid-wood kitchen as well as a sunny entertainment area with pool and hot tub, a large well-established garden and outbuildings big enough to convert to a separate flat.

A shortage of stock in the face of rapidly rising demand has put home sellers back in the driving seat of Welkom’s property market, and prices are rising as a result.

So says Adele van den Heever, co-owner of leading local agency RealNet Goldfields, who notes: “Activity in the Welkom market has picked up substantially in the past 12 months, stock availability has dropped and sellers are more confident of achieving higher asking prices.”

Most demand, she says, is coming from younger families wanting to upgrade to larger or more luxurious properties, and older people wanting to downscale to a smaller, more manageable home. “Encouragingly, we also see an increasing number of first-time buyers in the market now looking to see what they can afford on earnings of around R14 000 a month.

“And Welkom does offer such buyers great opportunities, with entry-level properties starting from around R250 000 – although at the other end of the scale it does also boast luxury homes priced at up to about R3m. At the moment, however, the strongest demand is for properties priced at up to around R600000 – most of these being upgraded ‘mine houses’ once owned by mining company Anglo American.”

Van den Heever says there is a growing realisation, though, that Welkom is not a sleepy rural enclave, but a sophisticated urban centre – the second largest in the Free State after Bloemfontein – and that is attracting buyers from further afield.

“Upmarket shopping centres, medical centres, sports clubs, theatres and all the modern amenities make Welkom an attractive residential option, and we anticipate that the property market will be further buoyed as the town continues to expand.”

Still an important mining hub, Welkom is also a centre of academic and sports excellence, and boasts some of the best schools in the Free State, including St Andrew’s School, Unitas Secondary School, St Dominic’s College and Welkom Preparatory School, she says. “And we have a lover crime rate than most cities in SA so there are many buyers from elsewhere investing here now and planning to retire here someday.”

Indeed, Welkom is currently a hotspot for buy-to-let investors, with very high yields, says Van den Heever. “These investors have access to lower-priced properties here as well as properties from auctions and bank repossessions. And on a property that costs of R300 000, an investor can easily obtain a rental of R5500 a month, which is an excellent return.”