10 Oct 2012
A country getaway or retirement place is a dream for most people, but buyers are often discouraged by escalating property prices.
This is according to Seeff Country managing director, Ian Badenhorst, who says there is still a wealth of properties with historic value and authentic Victorian, Cape Dutch and Karoo style architecture priced below R400 000 and not above R900 000, in the towns of the Nama Karoo - you just need to know where to look.
He says the flat house price growth, combined with the historically low interest rate, makes this the best time in decades to buy and if you buy well now, it can turn out to be an excellent investment in the long run.
Up-and-coming towns offer the best value, but once a town gains prominence, you can expect demand and property prices to rise significantly, especially for historic or architecturally unique homes.
Prince Albert is a good example. About ten years ago, you could still pick and choose homes priced below R900 000, but buyers will now have to dig a little deeper says agent Yolande Singery. In 2007, the average house price was R463 000, while today it is over R1 million.
The wide expanse of the Nama Karoo stretches from the Touws River in the Western Cape up to the Northern Cape and across the interior of the Eastern Cape. The southern or Klein Karoo area is greener and fertile while the northern, more inland Great Karoo is flatter and dry, but no less scenic.
With spacious rooms, wooden floors, country-style kitchens and verandas with great views, as well as a real community feel, home-grown food, clear skies and clean air awaits buyers; Badenhorst says you are not likely to get bored.
There is a growing entrepreneurial spirit as well as an abundance of leisure activities such as hiking, exploratory and horse riding trails, star-gazing, fishing and bird and wildlife-spotting. For the more adventurous folk there is mountaineering and river-based adventures.
The towns are easily accessed from the metropolitan areas and require only a few hours’ drive. Most have developed basic infrastructure and amenities since they already serve farming and other industries. These towns tend to be popular with artists and creatives and those 'in the know' often buy homes initially as weekend escapes and later retire here.
There is of course always the option of relocating and setting up shop or getting into the growing tourism trade, says Badenhorst.
Closer to Cape Town you will find the Klein Karoo valley, bordered by the Swartberg and Langeberg Mountains. Here, towns such as Barrydale and Ladismith offer a selection of country cottages with stunning mountain views. In Barrydale, these are priced from R440 000 to R950 000 for a beautifully preserved Cape Dutch cottage, says agent Johan van Eeden.
In Ladismith, buyers can opt for a cottage in a Conservancy Estate located next to the Klein Swartberg River for R670 000, says agent Christo Liebenberg. There is growing interest from out-of-town buyers and 70 percent of the 10 properties to the value of R7 million sold by the agent here over the past year were bought by out-of-towners.
Further north and spanning across the Northern Cape border, are the towns of Victoria West and Calvinia. Here, buyers can choose from Victorian styled homes, priced at R480 000 and R900 000, say agents Chris Hickman and Corna Coetzee.
Further inland towards the Eastern Cape, are the towns of Prince Albert, Beaufort West, Graaff-Reinet and Middelburg. Typical Karoo-style homes in Beaufort West cost between R400 000 and R750 000, says agent Ilmarie van der Berg.
In Graaff-Reinet, you can still find homes with original yellowwood floors, windows and doors, priced below R900 000, say agents Andrew and Lynette McNaughton. Interest here is also growing amongst out-of-town buyers. Nine of the 25 properties sold by the agents over the past year were bought by out-of-towners.
Another lesser-known gem is Middelburg, adds agent Ponnie van der Merwe. Here, buyers can choose from Victorian cottages, priced between R325 000 and R800 000.
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