Semigration and the cost of overseas travel have boosted sales in SA’s coastal towns and cities in recent times, and the Chas Everitt International offices in these areas are expecting the pace of this activity to increase even more over the forthcoming holiday season as upcountry visitors take the opportunity to view what is available and do some “comparative shopping”.
Charlene Barnard, franchise manager in top holiday and retirement town Knysna, says: “We are expecting this summer season to be even better than the last one – when we signed up a record number of deals. In our area apartments and townhouses currently dominate sales, but at least half are now being bought for own use rather than as buy-to-let investments, and many buyers are seeking to relocate on a permanent basis.”
Similarly in upmarket destination St Francis Bay, franchise owner Brendon Lahana says: “We have had a very good year to date with several high-end properties selling. The Waterclub, a 17-unit townhouse development, has also sold out during the course of 2016, with several units having been bought by non-South Africans”.
“Short-term rentals for the holidays are also at a premium, so there will be a lot of potential buyers here this season. Most sales here at the moment are houses and an increasing number are for the buyers’ own use, as either holiday or permanent homes – we have definitely see a shift towards less rental properties on our database”.
“The low rand exchange rate and the high cost of overseas travel is certainly contributing to this trend, with many regular visitors now deciding to acquire a holiday home here instead of going abroad.”
Steve Tredoux, co-franchisee in Kenton-on-Sea, says actual sales during the summer season are expected to be slow because every home in the village is set to be crammed holidaymakers, making it difficult to arrange viewings.
“However, we find that people who have had a great holiday here tend to return and look at properties to buy in the ‘second season’ between February and May, so we have some busy times ahead. Most buyers here are looking for investment properties and because there is a shortage of such units, prices have risen and prompted a mini-boom in the local building industry.“
In Port Elizabeth, Chas Everitt International principal Charlotte Vermaak says that even though the local market is not driven by second-home buying, “the holiday season is nevertheless a great time to buy because sellers are generally very serious about concluding a transaction before the start of the new year due to work transfers”.
“An increasing number of buyers realise this and the potential to negotiate good prices so although sales are slow in most metro areas at this time, we usually experience strong sales months in the summer.”
Other coastal hot spots at the moment include Umhlanga and Zinkwazi on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, and Umhlanga sales manager Charmaine Powell says there is already huge interest in investment apartments in the town which is expected to increase over the next few months.
“Our market is usually very active in the summer season, thanks to the annual influx of upcountry buyers, many of whom want to purchase before the financial year-end in February. And this year, the new Pearls and Oceans developments have raised the interest levels even higher.”
Derek Tavendale, the Chas Everitt International franchisee in Zinkwazi, says he is expecting an upsurge in sales between December and April, with most purchases being second homes that the owners plan to let for most of the year. A new development on the site of the former caravan park in the town is generating significant interest.
Meanwhile in Mossel Bay, franchisee Chantelle Grard says: “We are definitely expecting good sales this summer following an excellent year in which sales were consistently above-average. Buy-to-let investors are encouraged by the fact that our rental market is booming and the most active price category at the moment is R850 000 and R1,5m, with the demand split fairly evenly between houses and townhouses”.
“We also have many buyers moving here permanently from Gauteng, Cape Town and Bloemfontein, and they are competing strongly with investors for well-priced and well-located properties.”
And on the “Whale Coast” incorporating Hermanus, Onrus, Sandbaai, Fisherhaven, Vermont, Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay, sales are already robust and expected to pick up further over the next three months, says Chas Everitt International franchise owner Dean Meijer.
In Hermanus, he says, the last three years has brought an average 20% year-on-year increase in residential property prices across the board, from vacant stands to coastal mansions, thanks to an influx of new permanent residents, mostly from Gauteng, KZN and the Free State, but also from Cape Town.
“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.”
The growth in Hermanus’s permanent population and shortage of stands for sale has also triggered a wave of new development – and price increases – along the whole coastline, and the most affordable area now, he says, is Fisherhaven, about 15km from Hermanus, where there are still homes available on the R800 000 to R1,4m price range.