The vast size of the Karoo, which spans the provinces of the Eastern Northern and Western Cape, necessitates that each region has a large town for services, supplies and general businesses to support their neighbouring smaller towns and villages.
There are around 10 such towns in the Karoo, with Graaff-Reinet being one of them, and, with a stable and rapidly growing economy, this town is now playing a key role within the Eastern Cape region and within South Africa. Being the oldest town in the Karoo and the fourth oldest in the country, Graaff Reinet is one of the most well-known country towns nationally.
“Against this background, Graaff-Reinet is booming – attracting many new businesses and home owners, and even the provincial authorities have recognised its relevance and strategic location, with many departments relocating here, including the Department of Roads,” says Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties area manager for the Karoo.
Already home to the Police Academy, a Hotel School and other important facilities, Graaff-Reinet in the Karoo Midlands is also the base of the Camdeboo Municipality. New proposals will see another two district councils join these, namely Baviaans and Ikwezi, which will see Camdeboo become one of the largest district councils in the country.
“With the re-opening of the famous Drostdy Hotel in 2015 after a R100 million upgrade, the town is set to grow substantially over the next decade. With a number of good schools, an active municipality and great tourism infrastructure, the number of visitors to the town is increasing exponentially.
“The many and varied attractions include speciality museums, streets full of national monuments and a thriving tourism industry supported by restaurants, shops and of course, the famous Camdeboo National Park, which surrounds the town together with some well-known game reserves – all catering for local and international visitors alike. The National Park plays a very important role in the town and there is huge support and much interaction between the locals and the Park, such as fishing competitions at the Nqwebe Dam and bird and hiking club outings,” says Rubidge.
With clear night skies and a healthy climate – ideal for exploring the great outdoors, coupled with its historic interest, with 220 Heritage Sites, Graaff-Reinet is well positioned on a main route to the coast, being about two-and-a-half hours from Port Elizabeth and three hours from George.
Rubidge says the property market in the town is also booming, with average house prices of more affordable homes increasing by as much as 30 percent over the last 24 months. “The entry level for a two bedroom, historic cottage is currently in excess of R650 000, with a shortage of stock in this price range, particularly in what is called the ‘horseshoe’.
“Encircled by the Sundays River, the horseshoe is the older part of Graaff-Reinet and is popular with many newcomers looking to relocate to the town as it is within their price bracket and in walking distance of all shops and schools. With substantial demand for homes priced around R1 million, the number of properties available for purchase in this area will come into short supply in time to come.
“This is exacerbated by the fact that Graaff-Reinet cannot expand north, east or west due to being surrounded by the National Park, while expansion to the south towards the Country Club is limited, being bordered by the suburb of Adendorp, which is where the town’s numerous smallholdings are situated.”
He says the next price band which has in the last 12 months experienced a notable increase in interest and concluded sales is between R1.2 million and R1.5 million. “For this you can acquire a larger family home than the lower price range, comprising three bedrooms and more, plus a large erf. This is becoming a popular price range for families moving to Graaff-Reinet as well as local farmers from the surrounding towns who are retiring to the Karoo immediately or in the future.
“Above this price range you find the more exclusive homes at prices varying from R1.8 million to over R4 million for the real treasures. The popular 20-unit Donkin development, situated in a desirable residential area and priced from R950 000 to R1.25 million, is now almost sold out with only three townhouses available for purchase. Most of these have been bought by locals with a view to relocating permanently now or at a later date.”
Rubidge adds that commercial properties are also sought after and don’t come onto the market very often. “Commercial investment opportunities are becoming scarce within the main central business district in Graaff-Reinet as these are limited to two streets – Caledon and Church Street. Currently available for purchase is a fully-tenanted retail property which comprises six shops, each with street frontage, situated opposite the landmark Dutch Reformed Street in Church Street. “This property, which generates a healthy total rental income of just under R40 000 per month, is on the market for R5 million.”
For the enterprising investor an opportunity exists to revive or re-fashion the former Graaff-Reinet Hotel, which has 20 rooms and is located on the main route through town in Market Square, which is said will undergo a major revamp at some point in the future. Priced at R3.2 million, the hotel is located on three erven and is not currently trading – some of the rooms are let out and the large dance hall is rented by a furniture company for storage.
Adds Rubidge: “Graaff-Reinet has an abundance of historic homes and new on the market is an attractive property with business or residential use, in prime location in the upper end of Caledon Street. This is a popular area where a number of new businesses have relocated from the central business district of the town”. In excellent condition, just completely repainted and with newly-varnished Oregon floors, the property has three rooms which could be used either as offices or as bedrooms. It includes refurbished full bathrooms, a large lounge/dining room with fireplace and wall panelling which could be used as office space or a large conference room, and a spacious modern kitchen with ample cupboard space. With a lockup garage as well as ample, secure off-street parking, the property is priced at R1.325 million through Pam Golding Properties.