Areas and Places

Dullstroom shows signs of post-2020 lockdown recovery


Like many tourism towns, Dullstroom in Mpumalanga was hit hard by the strict 2020 national lockdowns, but it is reclaiming its space as a preferred fly-fishing and adventure destination as well as a cultural hub.

Positively, visitors during 2021’s first quarter were more likely (29%) to stay for more than a day in the corresponding period last year.

On the other hand, day visitors are down by 5% in 2021 compared to 2020 – perhaps a reflection of Covid-19.

Also known as ‘Emnotweni’ or ‘the place of prosperity’, Dullstroom has become a popular getaway for Gauteng city workers or as a half-way stop for those visiting the Kruger National Park.

In 1994, Dullstroom had just 238 properties. By 2021 this had soared to 1 278, and like much of the country, preference is swinging away from Freehold to either Estate or Sectional Title, or a combination of both”, comments Hayley Ivins-Downes, Head of Digital at Lightstone Property.

All the stock in 1994 was Freehold, and while this category had increased to 642 properties by 2021, Estate properties are not far behind at 579 with just 57 Sectional Title units making up the total.”

Oak Lane Estate was the first major estate development in Dullstroom between 2002 and 2004, followed by the Critchley Hackle Sectional Title development in 2005. In 2006 and 2008, new properties were registered in the Highland Gate Golf & Trout Estate to the east of Dullstroom, and today Highland accounts for 461 of the 579 estate properties in the village. The graph below depicts how the stock available in Dullstroom has evolved between different property types.

Upon closer examination, less than 53% of properties are in the R1 million to R1.5 million range, with those in the R1.5 million to R3 million bracket accounting for 16%. Those in the R770 000 to R1 million range make up just over 15%, and the balance are evenly spread among the last three bands – up to R250 000, between R250 000 and R500 000, between R500 000 and R700 000 and above R3 million.

Transfers in Dullstroom peaked in recent years in 2018 at 88 and dropped to 72 during 2020 – perhaps unexpectedly strong given the negative impact of Covid-19. In these years transfers were evenly split between Freehold on the one hand, and Estate and Sectional Title on the other” says Ivins-Downes.

Lightstone’s data further reveals that in 2021’s first quarter, transfer volumes were strong, and higher than those recorded in any of the three previous years. The performance is mainly due to activity in Highland Gate Golf & Trout Estate (14), which also accounted for the large increase in Estate transfers towards the end of 2020.

The data unpacks further to show transfers by property type and a relative percentage break down on the property type.

Ivins-Downes says that most out of town buyers are from Gauteng and in 2020, 45% of these buyers came from Pretoria and Centurion, which included both permanent movers and those buying a second home. Buyers came from fewer provinces in 2020 because of the restricted movement from the lockdown.

In 2020 and 2021 most transfers have been from the sale of land, which suggests the town could be in line for increased construction activity in the future which would add to the number of households and is good news from an economic activity point of view.

Dullstroom is particularly popular with the 36-46 age group, who typically make up to around 50% of the buyers in a year, followed by the 50-60 age group (accounting for 30% of buyers per year). This trend continued in 2020, with two slight variations at either end of the spectrum – there were less buyers in the 65+ age group, and slightly more younger buyers under 35.

Numbers also revealed that in general, Dullstroom is more popular with repeat buyers than first time owners, showcasing it further in a positive potential investment area.

Perhaps the most telling graph about this tourist town’s resilience, is the number of median properties on the market, which increased to seven months in 2020, this is most likely a consequence of Covid-19. However, in 2021’s first quarter, it is trending at six months, where it was in 2018, suggesting the recovery is underway” concludes Ivins-Downes.