Plett Development Site
High-end and leisure home buyers are turning to the Garden Route towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay in no small way, says Pam Golding Properties area principal, Ling Dobson.
“In fact, real estate across all sectors and price ranges is in demand as we are not only seeing a resurgence in home buying – including vacant land sales, there is keen interest in business premises in Knysna CBD and industrial areas and rising interest in guesthouses, particularly among German investors. At present, the lower end of the residential market is experiencing stock shortages. An interesting trend is that many of our existing rental clients are changing their status to buyers, while long-term rentals remain in very short supply.
“Home buyers at the top end have featured prominently, especially from Cape Town and Gauteng, with some relocating here, while the leisure market has re-emerged, with purchasers acquiring second homes for leisure breaks. While luxury homes generally sell upwards of R10 million – with 10 such top-end sales in 2014, over the past 18 months properties right on the beachfront in Beachy Head Road in Plettenberg Bay have been fetching between R26 million and R28 million for erf sizes ranging from 800 to 1600sqm,” she says.
In the hamlet of Buffalo Bay, some 20 minutes from Knysna towards George, a buyer purchased two adjacent vacant erven of 440 and 488sqm for a total of R13.6 million (R5 million and R8.6 million respectively) in order to amalgamate the properties and build one exceptional high-end home. A third vacant stand of 565sqm was acquired for R5.4 million by a purchaser who lives on an adjacent erf – for incorporation into his existing property. The three adjacent vacant stands were previously owned by the local municipality as one erf, and subsequently subdivided prior to sale.
Dobson says the fact that vacant land has come back into play is always a very good indication of a turn in the market, leading to more constant and building-related services and job creation.
For the period from January to May 2015 Pam Golding Properties (PGP) offices in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay have sold just over R123 million in property, which represents 119 percent increase in turnover compared with the same trading period in 2014, and 42 percent growth in volume – up from 36 to 51 units sold. PGP’s average selling price over this period was R2.77 million.
“These sales comprise a good mix of 27 percent local buyers, 24 percent from Gauteng, 20 percent from Cape Town, seven percent from other areas in South Africa and 14 percent international purchasers. International buyers have made a welcome comeback, mainly from Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden and the UK,” says Dobson.
“There is definitely new vigour and confidence in the property market. Construction of new homes is taking place and new developments are spearheading the resurgence in building activity. For example, 12 houses are currently being built at Beachy Head in Plett. In Knysna CBD, a number of older buildings have been revamped to offer appealing retail space as well as new coffee shops and restaurants.”
Further good news is that Knysna is set to benefit from an investment of R150 million in a high-speed fibre optic cabling network which is to be installed across the municipality. This, coupled with competitive rentals and low overheads, is expected to attract large corporate which do not need to be located in the cities. Such a development would create further demand for the commercial and residential property markets, as well as other economic opportunities.
Plettenberg Bay is also in the spotlight with local headline news that Starlite Aviation Group, a major international aviation training academy, is planning to relocate to Bitou, injecting an investment of over R100 million into the local economy. Globally acclaimed and with 16 years of experience in civil, military and paramilitary training, the academy intends accommodating about 200 flight school students in the area each year, bringing further economic, employment and tourism spin-offs as well as the potential for increased investment in Plett. Starlite has an impressive reputation in helicopter and fixed wing training both in South Africa and internationally. They also train helicopter air crew, maintenance personnel and operational support staff.
Dobson says interest in farms has also re-emerged, with a notable gentleman’s farm in the Plettenberg Bay area recently fetching R24 million, and with wine farms being listed for approximately R29 million. Bramon Estate, the first wine-producing farm situated so far east of the Western Cape winelands is currently on the market, priced at R29.5 million. At present there are some 18 wine farms in the area, either producing or being developed. The Bramon cellar acts as the central production facility for the region, currently vinifying wine for seven neighbouring farms. The cellar master, Anton Small – previously from Villeria Wines, has successfully achieved prestigious awards for many of the wines he has produced for Bramon as well as other farmers in the area. The Plett Wine Route is actively pursuing its goal of becoming established as a world class wine region.
With excellent local schools – Oakhill in Knysna and Greenwoods in Plett, as well as good, well-run government schools, wine farms, polo fields, ocean and forest, Knysna and Plett are the playground for fun-loving families and healthy outdoors people. Both towns are thriving, with well-run municipalities clearly evident with pristine beaches and lagoon, while Knysna is busy with a major upgrade to the sewerage infrastructure from the main road to the waterfront.
For commuters and leisure seekers air connections are regular with well priced flights to and from George or Plettenberg Bay, while PGP has a special arrangement with CemAir in conjuction with the Conrad Pezula and Hunters Lodge, offering clients a discount rate in off season when flying down to view properties through PGP.
Dobson says in Knysna the areas most sought after are Thesen Islands, Leisure Isle and Pezula Golf Estate where properties change hands between approximately R3 million and R9 million, while in the lower price bands there is good movement in Eastford, Rexford and Hunters, where family homes can be acquired from R1.1 million. In Plettenberg Bay the most sought after areas are Brackenridge, Whale Rock and Riverclub, where average family homes range in price from R1.6 million to R10 million and beyond.
An unusual opportunity comprising an exceptional 440ha property perched above Plettenberg Bay with panoramic views and surrounded by mountain, forest and ocean has become available for a developer or private buyer. Priced at R69 million (plus VAT), offers on the entire property or portions of the property are considered. Only 10 minutes from the CBD and the area’s pristine Blue Flag beaches, the property has been zoned for a range of leisure and lifestyle activities, including an 18-hole golf course, 450 residential units, equestrian amenities with existing stables and a commercial node for restaurants and shops. The property also includes 40ha of developed farmland with infrastructure and farmhouse, ideal for vineyards and olive groves. The new owner will play an integral role in finalising the existing master plans and will benefit from the current discounted value and huge tax incentives.