It is no coincidence that the suburbs of South Africa’s primary wine growing regions rank amongst the most sought-after property in the country.
From Durbanville to Constantia to Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Somerset West, these areas now rank amongst the most sought-after with buyers prepared to pay a premium for a home here. Seeff chairman, Samuel Seeff says that property value growth in these areas has consequently consistently outperformed the national averages even during challenging economic times.
A vineyard lifestyle is not just highly desired, but the options are diverse. Those with a bigger budget can choose to invest in a wine farm or boutique lifestyle estate. For others, the choice is a vineyard estate such as Fransche Hoek in the Paarl/Franschhoek Valley while others may choose an estate in Stellenbosch or Somerset West. For many though, it is a residential home in Constantia or Durbanville.
Whatever the choice, it is the vineyard lifestyle that buyers are after, says Seeff. The attraction is also not just local, but buyers from across the country and globe for that matter are drawn to these neighbourhoods.
The areas are all within about a 45-minutes radius of the city with Constantia and Durbanville of course much closer. The relatively easy commute from Somerset West, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl has seen a notable rise in commuter buyers in these areas according to Pierre Germishuys, Seeff’s managing director for the winelands.
Even weekend home buyers are increasingly drawn to the winelands. Seeff, who for example owns a weekend home in the winelands, says it is a tranquil getaway to a healthy outdoor lifestyle and vineyard walks in a safe environment for his family.
“Clearly, a taste for the finer things in life is a big driver of the demand”, says Seeff. “These suburbs are some of the most scenic in the country with beautiful vineyard and mountain landscapes and escapes that combine with a rural lifestyle. Yet, residents have access to top class facilities including some of the best schools in the country”.
Wine farms rank as top leisure pursuits for local residents as much as for tourists. The opportunity to enjoy vineyard walks, a meal at one of their top restaurants, wine tasting, the weekend markets and much more are, says Seeff, part of the attraction of these neighbourhoods.
In addition to the wine farms, these neighbourhoods are also home to six of the Top 10 restaurants in the country as ranked by the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. Two of these, La Colombe at Silvermist Wine Estate and the Green House at The Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel are in Constantia.
James Lewis, Principal for Seeff Southern Suburbs, Hout Bay and Llandudno says the vineyard vibe of the suburb is a key motivator for buyers and is also what makes Constantia a top performer when it comes to property.
“Sales topped a significant R1.483bn in value over the last year according to Propstats data. For this year to end May, sales already stand at just over R620m. Prices in the Upper Constantia area have reached R27.5m in Brommersvlei Road and as much as R51.5m in Southern Cross Drive last year”.
Lightstone data shows that the median price for freehold property in Constantia stands at around R10m, up by 188% in the ten years since 2005 when it was R3.475m and 54% in the five-year period since 2010 when it was around R6.5m.
The Durbanville area tells a similar story according to Joe van Rooyen, Seeff’s licensee for the area. In 2005, the median freehold house price was around R1m. By 2010, is was 60% more at around R1.6m and by 2015, it had risen by 160% to almost R2.6m.
The growth of the wine valley here, is making Durbanville quite a sought-after neighbourhood now, says van Rooyen. The livelier market over the last two years, has consequently seen a number of sales comfortably above the R3m to as much as R7.4m price mark since early last year.
Durbanville now enjoys a landscape that is every bit as beautiful as that of other winelands’ neighbourhoods and we also have mountain and vineyard views. Residents have access to about twelve wine estates with top name brands such as Durbanville Hills, D’Aria, Bloemendal, De Grendel, Diemersdal and Meerendal.
“Yet, as can be gleaned from the prices, the area still remains very well-priced for a vineyard neighbourhood”, he says.
“For Stellenbosch, the wine farms are a big attraction on top of the excellent facilities including the university”, says Germishuys.
Aside from globally acclaimed wine farms such as Beyerskloof, Blaauwklippen, Lanzerac, Spier, Rust en Vrede, Stellenbosch also boast two of the top ten restaurants – Terroir at Kleine Zalze and Jordan Restaurant at the Jordan Wine Estate.
“Stellenbosch property is now a hot commodity with steady year-on-year capital growth”, says Germishuys.“In 2005 for example, the median price of freehold property was around R1m. By 2010, it had risen to R1.9m, 90% more in just five years. It now stands at around R2.8m, 180% up over the last ten years”.
Nearby Franschhoek, is another story of vineyard attraction according to agents, Melina Visser and Adell Ferreira. With fabulous wine farms such as Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Boschendal, Haute Cabriere and La Motte and one of the top ten restaurants, Le Quartier Français, the attraction is obvious.
Franschhoek though has seen a more modest price growth from an average freehold house price of R1.4m in 2005 to R1.8m in 2010/11, just 29% growth in the five-year period. By 2015, the price had risen to R2.8m, up by about R1m in just five years and about 100% up over the ten year period.
With street names such as Merlot, Cabernet and Pinotage, it is no surprise that buyers have paid for anything upwards of R3.6m to R4.25m for a home to as much as R7m to R10m in the village.
In the exclusive vineyard estates homes have sold for as much as R9.3m in La Ferme Chantele, R13.5m in La Avenue de Franschhoek and as much as R9.53m to R18m in Fransche Hoek Estate. Yet, say the agents, you can still find a fabulous home in Fransche Hoek Estate for R6.95m.
“It is no surprise that the winelands’ now rank amongst the most sought after property in the country. The towns and villages of the area boasts excellent infrastructure and some of the best schools, colleges and universities in the country”.
Paarl Boys’ High (Boishaai) for example currently ranks as the top rugby school in the country, says Germishuys. Families especially have been heading to the town, consequently, property values have risen by about R100.000 each year over the past three years.
In 2005, the median value of freehold property in the town was just R638.000. By 2015, it had more than doubled to R1.3m and it now stands at just over R1.4m. Luxury estate homes now sell for a median price of about R4.2m.
At the other end, Somerset West property meanwhile has seen its values grow from a median value of R1.2m in 2005, by 42% to R1.7m in 2010 and by 92% to R2.3m in 2015.
Surrounded by vineyards, the village is also home to two of the oldest wine estates in the country, Lourensford and Vergelegen, both with top ranked restaurants along with the newer Waterkloof wine estate that now boasts a top-ten restaurant.
“It is no surprise then”, says Loretta Diab, manager for Seeff Somerset West, “that Gautengers and other migrating buyers are finding the village quite irresistible. We would estimate up to 20%-30% of buyer enquiries to come from other areas in the country”, she adds.
All of this interest has boosted activity and values notably. Since the start of last year for example, there have been several sales above the R5m to R10-plus price band, says Diab. Most of these were in the exclusive estates such as Bel’Aire, Boskloof, Dennegeur and Erinvale where properties have sold for as much as R14.5m to a very notable R22m.