The small city of George on the Garden Route is increasingly perceived not only as a “safe haven” for retirees but also as an excellent choice for families who are semigrating to the Cape from Gauteng, KZN and other northern provinces – and its property market is doing well as a result.
“However, it will do even better with the right international exposure”, says Alan Phillips, an 18-year veteran of the real estate industry and manager of the new Chas Everitt International office in George.
“This has traditionally been a popular destination for active retirees because of its mild climate, beautiful mountain views, proximity to the sea, excellent retail and medical facilities – and a wide variety of homes that are secure, low-maintenance and well-priced,” he says.
“But in recent times, there has also been a marked increase in the number of middle-aged buyers hailing from Johannesburg and other large cities who are typically seeking a slower-paced lifestyle and more security for their families, but still want to live in a sizable centre with easy access to good schools and other modern amenities”.
“In fact, figures from property data company Lightstone show that the biggest cohort (37%) of buyers in George currently is people aged 36 to 49, and that the number of residential property sales in the city rose 25% in 2016 compared to 2015″.
“The properties most in demand in the past year were freehold homes in the R800 000 to R1,5m price range, and estate homes in the R1,5m to R3m price range. Sectional title apartments in the R400 000 to R800 000 range also sold well.”
The key attractions for family buyers, Phillips says, are obviously the excellent schools and tertiary education institutions in George – and the fact that it has a Category 8 airport with daily flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban that makes for easy business travel.
“And this influx of new residents is certainly good for local property sales and prices, which have risen by an average of about 6% in the past year, while the new business ventures and professional practices started by many of these semigrants, and the increased consumer spend as a result of their arrival, are boosters for the local economy.”
Situated halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, George is of course also the hub of what has come to be known worldwide as the Golf Coast, with its string of world-class golf estates such as Fancourt, Kingswood and Oubaai.
“This brings in more and more international golf tourists and visitors every year, and an increasing number are buying their own luxury holiday homes here – along with SA expats who are targeting apartments and townhouses in George as buy-to let investments that deliver excellent returns,” he says.
“Nevertheless, we believe that the whole area and what it offers in terms of spectacular scenery, eco- and adventure tourism, lifestyle and value-for-money luxury property is still very underexposed in global terms, and could attract even more interest and investment from property buyers around the country – and around the world – if properly marketed.”
And as an affiliate of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) network, Phillips says, that is exactly what Chas Everitt International is aiming to do.
“The George franchise is the third Chas Everitt International office to be opened by the Ballan Group, with the others being in Knysna and Sedgefield, and our collective mission is to help the world discover and buy into the real estate ‘treasure trove’ that is to be found on the Garden Route”.
“Being a member of LeadingRE gives us access to a referral network of 550 top real estate companies around the world, and to international marketing platforms that reach a huge audience of potential buyers. As a result, we are able to give those homes that we are mandated to market maximum exposure to potential buyers overseas as well as in SA.”
What is more, he says, Chas Everitt International is also a member of the LeadingRE luxury property programme, Luxury Portfolio International®, which is a big advantage for local sellers who want to put high-end properties and developments on the world stage. “In fact, although we have only just opened the new office in George, the owners of several exceptional properties here have already asked us to showcase these to our global audience of affluent buyers”.
“These properties include a R19,25m guesthouse property overlooking the Great Brak River and close to the airport, and several gracious homes in the sought-after Kingswood Golf Estate. We also have multimillion-rand mansions for sale in Fancourt, Bergsig and Heatherlands, as well as smallholdings, lifestyle farms and stands in several secure estates.”