In response to the letter from Property24 reader Cathryn Reece of Cape Town, which was described as "an insightful letter this week about the ending of the property boom on the West Coast", the following, from Heinrich Koorts, managing director of Seeff West Coast, who has 13 branches stretching from Koeberg to Hondeklipbaai past Strandfontein:
Ms Reece refers to the "vast array of agency boards littering the side of the road on empty plots of land" as illustrating "the hard time estate agents must be having in selling homes these days". You will find agency boards all over the West Coast - in an area like Port Own and many others - since these areas only started developing a few years ago, and there are still many plots available. For example, in St Helena Bay alone there are over 1,000 plots for sale.
We sell plots on a daily basis. Of course, if you have 500 plots on the market, you are not going to suddenly see 499 "Sold" boards out there. Properties compete against each other in the open market. First, those at the right price in the right location sell and get built on, then people look to buy the others. As we say on the West Coast, "every pot has its lid" – and while there are still plenty of pots, there are also plenty of lids!
Plots in the area are still great value for money: in Velddrif/Port Owen R330k for a plot at the most 10 minutes' walk from the waterway, river or sea. The West Coast is certainly still a worthwhile investment.
She also commented: "If there was a property boom in this area, it seems a distant memory. I began to feel sorry for the estate agents I saw - entertaining empty offices all weekend long." My comment to this is that should an agent be having a hard time currently, then they are not a good agent.
The market is currently very active on the West Coast. For example, when comparing October/November 2006 with the same period in 2007 – Seeff West Coast averaged 68% to 78% growth year-on-year - in terms of both number of units and turnover. For last month, February 2008, we are 65% up on February 2007. Other agents may be quiet, but in February alone just three of my agents did 10 deals. My agents in Velddrif/Port Owen are very busy; one agent I had in Port Owen for most of last year sold R14m of properties over that period.
In terms of disparity in income – yes, the inhabitants of this region have been, and continue to be people who have made their living from fishing.
Many fisherman made very good money and built mansions in Port Owen, but this has slowed due to dwindling fish stocks. Velddrif is an area steeped in history and culture, and many older fishermen are very proud of their traditional old houses, and the area should be appreciated for this. Residents of Port Owen (about 75% newcomers to the town) have boosted the coffers of this municipality substantially, and 150 new low-cost houses will be built this year.
Ms Reece says: "Perhaps I missed the obvious signs of development and growth in the area. But really, to my mind, the story I witnessed on the West Coast is a sad one." I think that what is sad is that she branded an area that is over 400 km long with her perceptions of one town over a limited period.
The West Coast is and will remain sought after for many reasons – its microclimate, the value for money you can get here, the flowers, colourful characters, and relative closeness to Cape Town. It is a very specific and special experience, and our significant increase in turnover is just one indication of the value, enjoyment and lifestyle that people continue to want to be a part of.
Image: This fisherman's cottage in Velddrif is situated on 2,500sq m and is on sale for R2,5m.
Image: This two-bedroom apartment in Port Owen is on sale for R1,350m.
For more information contact Heinrich Koorts on 082 440 2050 or send an email.
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