Areas and Places

Wealthy home buyers are heading for Knysna and Plett

With 10 bedrooms (nine en suite), this unique homestead on the Western Heads in Uitzicht, Knysna, enjoys spectacular views over the lagoon to the mountains, with a main house and garages comprising a foo print of 1060sqm and including a studio, study and cellar, with extensive verandas and half a metre thick walls for winter warmth and summer coolness. There is a 300sqm guest cottage, manager’s house of 140sqm, 50sqm barn and leased jetty. Numerous features include stabling for two horses, water storage, standby generator, productive borehole, indigenous garden and small game roaming freely. The property is priced at R59 million through Pam Golding Properties.

The prime, coastal Garden Route destinations of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are experiencing a surge in demand among the über wealthy, with Pam Golding Properties area manager Ling Dobson reporting growing interest in homes priced from R10 million upwards and marked interest in top-end luxury properties in the R20 million plus mark.

“In Plett, these include beachfront residences at Keurbooms and Brackenridge and secure estates such as Whale Rock and Brackenhurst, as well as wine farms. In Knynsna homes at The Heads, Thesen Islands and Leisure Island and the estate lifestyle on Pezula Private Estate and Uitzicht hold ongoing appeal for high end buyers, while a lifestyle farm/boutique hotel in Rheenendal completes the latest luxury priority list.”

She says in Plettenberg Bay alone in excess of seven properties sold at prices over the R8 million mark in the past 12 months, with a similar trend reflected in Knysna.

“Notably, in the past month alone we have had half a dozen requests for luxury homes ranging between R20 million and R60 million. This resurgence in very top end buyers is similar to that seen in the boom years and includes buyers from around South Africa as well as returning expats and international investors from the UK and Europe – taking advantage of the slump in the rand”.

“The overriding expectation from buyers in this category is for spectacular views and the ‘wow’ factor”.

“We have also seen good investor interest in hotels and guesthouses in the R8 million to R30 million price segment – from South Africans as well as foreigners looking to relocate permanently and with an income to sustain their daily life. Discerning in their demands, they look for good structure, security and of course always views, with an established business model in place.”

“Importantly, all the major investment houses catering to the rich and famous such as Investec, Sasfin, Sanlam, Carrick and St James, have established themselves in this region, as so many of their clients of that ilk are moving here”.

“Many of our enquiries for homes are from families looking to relocate and send their children to prestigious private schools like Oakhill in Knysna and Greenwood Bay in Plett, or even the government schools which are maintaining a very good standard both in education and sport. Not only does the area offer quality educational facilities, we also have very high-end medical private clinics where many international visitors make their appointments way ahead of their stay.”

Dobson says the Knynsa and Plett coastline seems to be one of the most sought after destinations on the lips of the affluent the world over, and is a playground for all. “This area just has such a great deal to offer, catering to all age groups. Together Knysna and Plett’s natural beauty stretches from the indigenous forest to the Blue Flag beaches, the Knysna seahorses to whales and dolphins, bungy jumping to abseiling, plus yachting, golfing, running, cycling, stand-up boarding and much more.

“Not forgetting golf resorts to the Plett ‘Bubbly’ route which has been consistently winning awards for its excellent wines, dotted with restaurants and in proximity to the increasingly popular polo fields. Very few locations anywhere offer this compendium of activities”.

“This is a dramatic upturn from the economic recession when we experienced frustration in not being able to service mandates in the top price ranges, during a period when even achieving prices above R4 million was a challenge. I believe that increased media awareness about this area has contributed hugely to the growing demand for homes, coupled with the positive growth and development in the region which has reached the attention of investors”.

“This year we have successfully introduced to market and sold many homes in the R4 million to R11 million price bracket, while a further positive factor is the increased appetite for vacant land”.

“When you consider the current ZAR values versus the dollar, euro and sterling pound, investing here on the Garden Route is incredible value for money, particularly when you compare Knysna and Plett’s luxury homes to other coastal areas such as the Cape Atlantic Seaboard. This is the Côte d’Azure of Southern Africa, with a cosmopolitan atmosphere to compete with the best, and as a result the area is becoming a year-round destination for tourists from so many different countries and property-wise, a serious contender.”

She says currently the region is experiencing a real shortage of houses below the R2 million mark, which means that building becomes the next development step. “Considering the meaningful uptake in vacant stands, I believe we are correct in this assumption and developers who are currently building and bringing to market inexpensive family homes under R2.5 million to R3 million will enjoy huge interest over the forthcoming holiday period.”

Dobson adds that holiday rentals are where the astute investor can make a sound return while utilising the property for his or her own enjoyment. “High end holiday rentals vary from R3000 to as high as R20 000 a day in both Knysna and Plett, whereas if you rented Noetzie Castle it would set you back R90 000 a night.”