Activity in East London’s housing market has swung into top gear according to Hanlie Bassingthwaighte, area principal for Pam Golding Properties.
“In terms of demand, the market has fully recovered and we are now selling as many houses across most suburbs as we did just prior to the national market slump in 2008. A key factor which is fuelling the current market is the significant increase in property acquisitions by black buyers. At present, 59 percent of our sales are to black buyers, compared with 40 percent in 2014.
“With house prices having remained relatively flat in real terms (taking into account inflation) through the economic recession, what we have seen in the marketplace in general is the number of successfully concluded transactions increase in tandem with the growing demand. This is to the extent that we now have a very active market with a shortage of reasonably priced stock in all price brackets, but particularly in the R1.5 million price range.”
Testament to the increasingly buoyant housing market, in August 2015 Pam Golding Properties achieved its highest month’s turnover to date with sales of just over R60 million. September and October months have also been very busy, says Bassingthwaighte.
“We’ve also experienced a significant increase in the top end of the market. In 2014 only four homes in total sold above the R5 million mark in East London, compared with nine for 2015 to date – five of which sold through Pam Golding Properties (PGP).”
Located in areas such as Nahoon, Nahoon Mouth, Nahoon Valley, Abbotsford and Bunkers Hill, the PGP luxury sales ranged from R5.95 million to R6.5million, R6.95 million, R8.9 million and R9.4 million.
Across all areas the market is driven by locals acquiring property for primary residential use – including some former Eastern Cape residents who have returned to their roots, such as a family relocating back home from Singapore after a 15 year stint overseas.
Adds Bassingthwaighte: “There’s also huge value for money available in the city’s housing market, which is a key attraction for first time and family buyers, with many bargains to be had in areas such as Cambridge, Amalinda and Gonubie – where you can still buy a good size three bedroom home for under R1 million.”
In Gonubie, a coastal village only 15km from East London, properties are considerably inexpensive when compared to the city. An independent community comprising some 3 500 houses and with a good primary school and high school as well as a golf club, houses start from below R1 million for small residences or even a three bedroom apartment.
“In terms of sales activity, Gonubie is a fast-paced area which in 2013 had already surpassed the volume of sales concluded during the housing boom in 2006/07, and emphatically improved this performance. In 2013, 246 houses changed hands in the area versus 226 in 2006. Currently the average house price in Gonubie is R1.2 million, while more upmarket homes range up to the R8 million’s.
“In addition, we recently sold a fully tenanted retail property, well situated on the main road in Gonubie, for R8.725 million,” says Bassingthwaighte.
In Beacon Bay, where sales in the R1.8 million to R2 million price bracket are most active, more upmarket properties achieve prices of R1.45 million for a three bedroom penthouse, or in the region of R2.8 million for a spacious modern home, usually on large grounds – the latter being in particular demand among black buyers.
Lifestyle properties are also selling, with smallholdings ranging in size from 6.4ha to 18ha and 36.6ha selling through PGP from R1.35 million to R3.5 million in areas such as Rainbow Valley and East Coast Resort, on the outskirts of East London. Buyers are seeking a more tranquil way of life with wide open spaces and perhaps the opportunity to keep a few horses.