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Worcester market big on low cost

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24 Nov 2008

The property market in Worcester is seeing a mix of private sales, high demand from buyers in the lower price ranges, and owner landlords trying for top dollar.

So says Desiree Koen of Realty 1 International Property Group's Worcester office. Although "no particular area in our region currently stands out as being notably active in terms of sales, there are houses being sold, but a lot of these are sold privately," she says. "The sales which do take place are mostly in the affordable price range up to R700 000, and the houses are situated in areas such as Roux Park, Bergsig, Meirings Park and Somerset Park as well as the so called Coloured areas."

These homes are mostly two or three bedroomed houses with a bathroom and a garage, she says, while another area currently of interest is Van Riebeeck Park. This area has larger older houses mostly situated on large stands of approximately 1200m2.

"Although most of the houses on sale in this area are overpriced, they are usually a good option for the extended family or as an investment or for a 'work from home' option," says Koen. "Many of the houses in this area have one or two cottages on the grounds and also have the potential for the stand to be subdivided and sold off."

However, it's not plain sailing. "Most buyers have difficulty in settling for the smaller properties that they can afford, and three bedroomed houses with garages remain popular," she says. "Buyers who need a deposit and have to pay their transfer fees find it especially difficult to get into the market. There are a lot of buyers who wish to buy for under R300 000 as they can still obtain 100% loans in some cases, but in this price range properties are very scarce."

Koen says she has had some interest from buyers wanting to farm olives, which is quite successful in the area along with the wine cellars that dominate the agricultural scene. She does not expect any price growth this year, as buyers are forcing prices down. "I predict this will continue at least into next year," she says.

In terms of rentals, properties priced below R4000 per month are sought after, but even rentals are not easy to achieve. Tenants are fussy and shop around, says Koen, and they want property that is centrally located. Meanwhile, owners have picked up on the increased demand and are trying to obtain high rentals. "Some properties remain for long periods on the market until the owner is forced to accept lower rentals," she says, "but all the same rental properties are becoming scarce."

Koen believes rental properties on farms and small holdings are popular as tenants usually expect to pay lower rentals for houses that farmers generally rent out privately.

Recent developments in the Worcester area include the Golden Valley casino and conference centre and the Mountain Mill shopping mall. Growing numbers of investors from Gauteng are becoming aware that local property prices are very competitive for the region, and buyers are also attracted by the lifestyle and the setting among the Boland mountains with views of the valley and vineyards.

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