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City-slickers escape to Drakensberg

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29 Nov 2007

High crime levels and the frenetic pace of city life are behind a growing number of enquiries for permanent homes in and around the central Drakensberg locale.

So says Dave Abraham, principal of Realty 1 International Property Group, who adds that there is not only a rising demand for second homes but also for primary residences in Bergville, Winterton, Champagne Valley and Geluksberg.

Though demand for holiday homes has definitely slowed since the promulgation of the National Credit Act (NCA) and the upsurge in the interest rate, Abraham says interest from primary home buyers is rising steadily. He says it's undoubtedly being driven by people's desire to get out of the rat race and away from crime and smog, with purchasers hailing predominantly from Gauteng and the greater Durban area at this point in time.

"Those with school-going children are mostly looking at such a move from a longer-term perspective, but others, especially empty-nesters, are making plans for the near future. Interest is rising to such an extent that I foresee this becoming a major trend in the central Drakensberg, which has traditionally been a holiday destination."

Currently sales are most common in the R400k to R600k price bracket, which buys a stand on a residential estate. This initial expenditure represents an average and ultimate commitment of between R1,5m and R2m for a complete building package, he says.

The steady one-way trickle of townsfolk into the country is also evident by take-up of freehold stands on the 900 hectare Highlands Farm Estate, which sits on the border of KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State and is exactly midway between Durban and Johannesburg.

Abraham says the homestead section offers 40 stands of 4,000sq m in size each, priced from R400k to R600k. Buyers then have up to five years to complete their homes in accordance with the estate's prescribed architectural style, namely traditional South African farmhouse.

The estate will run as a working cattle and game farm with a strong focus on horse polo and other equestrian facilities as well as numerous outdoor activities, he adds.

There will also be a retail village section where the owners of the book store, butchery, coffee shop, general dealer and saddlery (all of which have been bought) will live above their shops in a style reminiscent of the charming Free State town of Clarens, although on a much smaller scale, he says.

A few stands remain for sale in the village, sized at 750sq m and priced from R350k to R485k. Zoned for mixed-use, Abraham says they can be used for residential dwellings and/or small businesses such as a bed and breakfast establishment, office or art gallery. In addition, one further erf remains - zoned as a boutique hotel, it is available for R1,5m.

"Tarred roads all the way translate to easy access to schools in both Ladysmith and Harrismith. The construction of a private medical centre in the near future will extend its existing appeal to retirees," he says.

And if 900 hectares isn't enough space, he says residents will automatically have traversing rights to the neighbouring farm of 1,200 hectares, which will allow even more freedom for horse riding, walking and running in picturesque scenery.

For more information contact 036 468 1122 or click here to visit the website.

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