While the whole Helderberg property market continues to gain momentum, homes in Somerset West’s residential estates are evidently the most coveted by the region’s throng of new buyers.
In the last year, property prices for houses in Somerset West’s gated complexes have outperformed those of freehold homes in the town by over 10% – this despite the fact that the latter are themselves up 15% from 2015.
That’s the word from Anton Campbell-Harris, co-principal of Chas Everitt International in Somerset West and the Helderberg, who notes: “Growing demand has seen residential-estate properties in the middle price range – between R1,8 and R2,2m – increase in value by more than 20% in the last year. And, in the R900 000 to R1,1m range, prices have risen upwards of 25 to 30%.”
He attributes the demand for these properties in part to the influx of semigrants, mainly from Gauteng, who have descended on the Helderberg basin in recent years.
“Security is obviously a major consideration for these buyers, but they are also drawn to newer homes that require less remodeling, and smaller properties that need less maintenance, especially given the country’s water crisis.”
Despite a slew of new developments in Somerset West and its adjoining areas, such as Croydon and Paardevlei, heavy demand is fuelling house shortages across the board, he says. “There are approximately 19 000 properties in Somerset West, with slightly more than half of those in gated or sectional-title complexes. Where, in 2009, there were around 1000 properties for sale in the town, in 2016 there have only been 420 – and the percentage is that much smaller when you consider the large number of new properties that have been built in the last seven years”.
“There has also been a significant shift in the average age of owners in recent years,” he notes. “Older people (65-plus), who once made up the vast majority of home owners, now account for only 23% of purchases, while 50% of purchases are being made by people under the age of 49″.
“What’s more, 18% of purchasers are under the age of 35 and, given that they account for only 7% of the total sellers, these young people appear to be here to stay.”
This really isn’t surprising given Somerset West’s close proximity to some of the country’s best schools in Stellenbosch and Paarl, its easy access on the N2 to both Cape Town (45km) and the international airport (30km), and, of course, its undeniably scenic setting, says Campbell-Harris.
“The town has experienced phenomenal growth over the last few years. Our recently-opened R400m retail centre, The Sanctuary, is the latest in a string of new shopping complexes, and medical facilities in the Helderberg, which include the 100- bed Busamed Paardevlei Private Hospital as well as several day hospitals, are world-class”.
“Somerset West also offers considerably better value for money than Stellenbosch, where properties are, on average, 25% more expensive despite the town being less than 15 minutes away,” he says, adding that this is also true of Cape Town’s family-focused southern suburbs.
“In Somerset West, R2,4m – the current average selling price – will buy you a three- to four-bedroom home in a secure estate within walking distance of town. In Newlands, you’ll struggle to find an apartment for that price.”