George may be nicknamed “Cold and Wet” after its CAW license plate, but this scenic Garden Route city has been warming the hearts of an increasing numbers of residents over the years. In fact, “semigration” into George from towns and cities around the country is now conservatively estimated to be around 50 families per month – significant enough numbers to be having a real effect on the property market.
“Demand for residential property in George is exceptionally high at present,” says Stephen Lubbe, the Rawson Property Group’s resident franchisee. “This is almost certainly due, at least in part, to the number of new residents moving into the city each month. It’s a very positive sign for the future of our local property market in light of the otherwise tough economic times our country is facing.”
Lubbe believes the main driving force behind the high number of families moving into George is the relative safety, stability and high quality of life the city offers.
“So many towns and cities around South Africa are struggling with crime, bad infrastructure, poor management and political instability,” he says. “By comparison, George is a safe haven – we have world-class infrastructure, a well-run municipality, a stable local political environment, top class schools, great hospitals, an excellent airport and a very low crime rate. We’re also located in one of the most beautiful parts of the country and our outdoor lifestyle and activities are second to none. It’s pretty easy to see the attraction for families – who wouldn’t want to raise their children in this kind of safe and healthy environment?”
The influx of new residents is doing more on the property market than just driving demand, however. “Traditionally, fixer-uppers have always been popular,” says Lubbe, “and while we still see demand for flip-friendly properties from young couples and speculators, it’s the ready-to-move-in homes that are really flying off the shelf at the moment.”
Understandably, it seems families new to the area aren’t looking to get into serious renovations right away, but what is topping their list of priorities in a property?
“High quality finishes and good general condition seem to be the most important things for buyers at the moment,” says Lubbe. “Our mid- to high-end sectors are the most popular, with buyers looking for a minimum of three bedrooms, two bathrooms and spacious grounds of 800m2 and up. We have the highest demand for properties between R1 million and R1.5 million, and those sales make up 20% of all our residential transactions. The R2 million to R3 million range is also seeing a lot of interest from buyers, and about 11% of our sales fall into this bracket.”
As far as capital appreciation goes, Lubbe conservatively estimates around 10.5% per annum for freehold properties. “Sectional title has seen slower growth,” he says, “but rental demand is currently sky-high so buy-to-let investment could accelerate this market in the future.”
New construction is also speeding up, with developments like Kraaibosch Country Estate, Kraaibosch Manner and Blue Mountain Lifestyle Estate growing at pace.
“Demand for residential property in the eastern suburbs in particular has been stimulated by the development of the Garden Route and Eden Meander Malls,” says Lubbe, “and the new Medi Clinic private hospital on the eastern periphery of George will only add to this movement.”
Clearly, George is a city on the rise, and if Lubbe’s predictions prove accurate, property owners can expect a rosy future.