Areas and Places

De-urbanisation sees increasing demand in Cape Town’s winelands towns

The winelands that surround Cape Town have always been a perfect place to spend a sunny Saturday sipping the local wines and enjoying the breathtaking scenery. If you’d asked most day-trippers a few years ago if they would ever consider living there, however, they’d likely have laughed heartily before answering in the negative.

These days, that answer isn’t quite as certain as before. In fact, the winelands are seeing an increasing number of families relocating from cities all over the country, looking to find a safer, friendlier, lifestyle far from the smog and grime.

“Some of South Africa’s best known businessmen call Stellenbosch home,” says Johan Hugo, the Rawson Property Group’s Stellenbosch franchisee. “It’s only 45 minutes away from Cape Town, and 35 minutes from Cape Town International Airport, and yet it has all the lifestyle benefits of a small town. We also have excellent schools, a prestigious university, and a lot of outdoor attractions – not to mention the world-class restaurants, wine farms and cafés in the area. It’s a great place to raise a family, and a great place to live – it’s not hard to understand why people might choose this lifestyle over a big city.”

Often dismissed as a “student town”, Stellenbosch’s residents are actually very diverse, with a healthy mix of age groups, income-levels, professionals, families and retirees. Properties in the area are equally varied, from heritage manor-houses to student apartments, and everything in between.

“Stellenbosch has become highly sought-after, which has driven prices higher than some of the neighbouring areas,” says Hugo, “but there are definite benefits to buying here – we were one of the only places in the world to remain unaffected by the recent property recession.”

Buyers in Stellenbosch can expect to pay around R1 million for a typical flat, R1.6 million and up for a townhouse, and R3 million for an average house. Lifestyle estates, smallholdings and farms are also available. Hugo warns that prices are continuing to climb, and advises buyers to move quickly to benefit from the ongoing appreciation. “Do your homework, though,” he adds, “and don’t overpay, but when you find something you like, move fast or you risk losing out to another buyer.”

A little further outside of Cape Town lies Paarl, another quaint winelands town attracting increasing numbers of previously urban professionals. According to Lizette Joubert, the Rawson Property Group’s Paarl franchisee, more and more previously urban families are moving into the area to take advantage of the picturesque surroundings, comfortable lifestyle, and excellent schools.

“Stellenbosch is just down the road, and Cape Town is less than an hour away,” she explains, “so a lot of professionals commute from Paarl. We even see fathers commuting to Johannesburg during the week and coming back to Paarl on weekends, all because they want their wives and children to enjoy a better lifestyle.”

“Exclusive estates like Val de Vie, Pearl Valley, Boschenmeer and The Winelands Estate are particularly popular with buyers from Gauteng,” Joubert continues. “It’s comforting for them to know that their families are in a safe, secure environment when they’re away.”

Prices in Paarl range from R500 000 to over R20 million, depending on the size, location and type of property in question. “Heritage homes command higher prices, because of their rarity, while the high-end estates are pricy because of their security, lifestyle, and quality finishes.”

With the increasing demand in Paarl, stock shortages are common, and prices are on the rise. Joubert warns sellers to resist over-pricing their properties, however, as buyers tend to be well-informed and able to distinguish good value from bad.

The third Cape Town winelands town seeing an influx of new residents is Franschhoek, the gourmet capital of the region. Perhaps even more picturesque than Stellenbosch and Paarl, it is also further from Cape Town, and used to be prime territory for foreign investors and second-home buyers. During the property recession, however, foreign capital became scarce, and prices dropped to more affordable levels for the South African buyer.

“Since then, the focus in Franschhoek has definitely been on local residential purchases,” says Johan Hugo, who is also the Rawson Property Group’s franchisee for Franschhoek. “Freehold properties are selling from around R2.3 million, and sectional title properties from R1.6 million. That’s within reach for a lot of South African professionals.”

Hugo has certainly noticed more commuter families buying in Franschhoek. “Franschhoek isn’t just a pretty place – it has great schools, incredible restaurants, plenty of outdoor activities and – most of all – it’s safe. It’s the dream lifestyle for a lot of city-dwellers who are fed up with the crime and grime.”

Whatever the reasons, the flood of professionals and young families moving out to the winelands is breathing new life into the property market in all the major winelands towns. Agents in the areas report excellent activity, and properties are showing healthy appreciation.

To find out more about the winelands lifestyle and properties in the area, contact a Rawson Property Group franchisee in your area of interest.