The Overberg coast has shaken off its sleepy holiday-by- the-sea reputation and is increasingly attracting younger buyers and upcountry semigrants as permanent residents. So much so, in fact, that purchasing patterns in Hermanus now resemble those in the city, where young people buy to accommodate growing families and empty nesters buy to scale down.
So says Dean Meijer, owner of Chas Everitt International Whale Coast, who notes: “The entire area has developed substantially and the market, particularly in Hermanus, is far more mature than it was three years ago.”
He says the bulk of buyers in Hermanus are no longer those seeking holiday homes: “90% of purchasers are buying to live here now, and of the remaining 10%, the majority are buying with a view to living here in five or 10 years’ time, when they retire”.
“Hermanus’s proximity to Cape Town and the international airport, coupled with the fact that it offers premium sea-view properties at considerably more affordable prices than the Atlantic Seaboard, makes it increasingly attractive to potential buyers and prices are rising as a result. In the past three years we’ve seen an average 20% year-on- year increase in residential property prices across the board, from vacant stands to coastal mansions.”
The biggest percentage of buyers comes from up north, says Meijer. “Buyers from Johannesburg, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State are particularly keen on gated estates, where they have the benefit of 24-hour guarded security, and prices in these developments have risen to the point where you won’t find a home in the Fernkloof, Hemel-en- Aarde or Berghof estates for under R3m.”
Capetonians, too, are relocating to the town in search of a better quality of life, he says. “There are good junior and primary schools in Hermanus, including a Curro private school, and those who must commute to Cape Town are not opposed to the 120km commute.”
Foreign buyers currently make up only around 5% of the market, says Meijer, but interest in luxury homes in Hermanus is rising as they are given more exposure due to the Chas Everitt International affiliation to Leading Real Estate Companies of the World© and its luxury real estate programme Luxury Portfolio International©.
Meanwhile the town’s infrastructure continues to grow and develop to cater for the influx of permanent residents. The new 23 000sqm Whale Coast Mall is scheduled to open in November 2017 and the Hermanus Medical Village – comprising a day hospital, a sub-acute inpatient facility and a much-needed oncology unit – will be operational from February.
Meijer says the middle of the market is by far the most robust sector: “A R1,5m home won’t stay on the market for a longer than a month. Five years ago it would have taken at least six to nine months to sell a property at this price point. Of course, we have our ‘Millionaire’s Row’ where homes command prices of R30m to R40m, but this segment of the market is understandably slower.”
The growth in Hermanus’s permanent population has also triggered a wave of new development along its outskirts, in places like Onrus, Sandbaai and Vermont, he says. “In Hermanus proper there is no vacant land left. We’ve sold more stands in the past two years than in the 10 preceding years put together.”
Some 30km up the coast in Kleinmond, where the infrastructure is becoming increasingly formalized and now includes the larger convenience stores and major banks, prices have risen by as much as 25 to 30% over the past three years, while Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay are now also attracting more attention.
“While these seaside villages don’t have the commercial activity of Hermanus or even Kleinmond, they both fall inside the Kogelberg Biosphere Nature Reserve, whose UNESCO World Heritage status protects the whole region from over-development,” Meijer explains. “There’s a strong market for vacant stands in these areas, as buyers are discovering that the cost of building here is pretty much on a par with buying an existing house.”
The most affordable area on the whole of the Whale Coast is currently Fisherhaven, which is just 15km from Hermanus, he notes. “You can still find homes here in the R800 000 to R1,4m price range,” he says.