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Karoo country living & bargain homes

01 Jun 2014

Nothing beats the special reward of acquiring an original character home. Interest in Karoo property is rapidly reaching the levels experienced during the last property boom up to 2008/9.

This seven bedroom house in Richmond offers four bathrooms, scullery and pine floors throughout. It is selling for R540 000 - click here to view.

This is according to Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties manager for the Karoo, who says there are many reasons why interest in Karoo property is currently so high and is being spurred on - with the four main drivers being value for money, the quality country lifestyle on offer, escaping urban pressures and the need to ‘get away’, as well as the safety and security of Karoo living.

He says coupled with the generally improved market sentiment, there are a variety of other reasons that are stimulating interest in the Karoo. “For example, where else can you acquire a historical home that meets these criteria above and more - all for R250 000.

“The Karoo region is vast, comprising around 30 percent of the surface area of South Africa and home to over 50 towns and farming districts. This bouquet of destinations offers buyers an unbeatable range of investment choices. Each town is located in a unique setting with a myriad of property choices all offering the four key points of interest.

This two bedroom house in Philipstown has high ceilings, wooden floors and a borehole. It is on the market for R440 000 - click here to view.

“While each town is different from the next, there is an underlying commonality between them as most towns in the Karoo were built in the 19th century, making them approximately 150 years old. The common thread in all these towns is that they all offer the classic Karoo style vernacular architecture which includes wooden floors and ceilings that are most often Oregon pine or Yellowwood, the famous Karoo stoep or veranda and spacious rooms with high ceilings well adapted to the Karoo climate.

“Added ‘charm’ factors for Karoo homes are other features such as a borehole with a windmill in your backyard, stone features such as those found around the perimeter walls or stone outbuildings still with original features. In many cases fittings are still original and incorporate nostalgic features like an Aga stove, as well as numerous fireplaces which all further enhance the special reward of acquiring a Karoo home,” says Rubidge.

He says currently many of the smaller classic Karoo towns are receiving a facelift as a result of the investment by owners into their unique properties. Towns like Richmond, Phillipstown, Steynsburg, Aberdeen, Bethulie, and many more offer exceptional value, and a three bedroom home can be bought for as little as R300 000.

“Some towns such as Lady Grey, Rhodes, Nieu Bethesda and Loxton are in country villages where country living is taken to a new level. In these areas property prices tend to be slightly higher than the classic Karoo towns due to the small size of these villages, with limited availability of property and sustained demand. The slightly larger towns are also showing signs of a mini property boom. Towns such as Middelburg, Somerset East, Beaufort West and Carnarvon, which all have schools and a wider range of services, are attracting different buyers due to the extra amenities and services on offer.”

This four bedroom house in Bethulie offers landscaped garden and entertaining areas. It is on the market for R930 000 - click here to view.

Rubidge says Karoo towns like Prince Albert and Graaff-Reinet are examples of what a country town can achieve and many of the smaller more out of the way towns are starting to mimic the success stories of these towns. A case in point is Richmond, which is the official Book town of Africa with over 50 000 books on offer.

Carnarvon is at the epicentre of an international astronomy project which began with ‘Meerkat’ and eventually saw the multi-billion rand SKA project come to fruition. Each town is drawing on its unique potential and is showing signs of sustainable country living, with more and more visitors travelling to the Karoo to participate in the over 100 events and festivals taking place on an annual basis.

Prospective property buyers in the Karoo should look to acquire now while there is still a large selection offering great value, he advises. Interest in Karoo property covers most price ranges and categories from affordable, unbeatably priced vacant stands starting at R15 000 and historic houses starting at R200 000 to luxury homes and includes farms of all categories and price ranges.

When looking to buy a property in the Karoo - whether you are a first time homeowner looking at entry level properties, a property investor considering commercial opportunities, a property restorer wanting to buy and restore a historical Karoo home, or you are looking for a lifestyle change - the following aspects can be taken into consideration, says Rubidge.

This three bedroom house in Graaff-Reinet has a TV room and an undercover entertainment area with braai. It is selling for R1.39 million - click here to view.

“Almost anywhere in the Karoo you can be within three hour’s drive of a city or a big urban centre, so choose the town that is in close proximity if you plan on using the property as a holiday or weekend home.

“Each town has its own pulse and beat, therefore choose a town that meets your needs. For example if you want to grow produce, and have gardens choose a town that has abundant water which is often in the form of lei water. This means that water rights are attached to each property with the lei water often running in stone furrows from the village or town fountains.

“Choose the town that offers properties in your price range. For example Prince Albert is the flagship Karoo town with an unsurpassed quality of life, good cuisine, secure environment, and like most towns - great scenery and a healthy outdoor life. In Prince Albert, large luxury homes sell for up to R3 million, with perennial demand due to the town’s proximity to Cape Town (approximately a four-hour drive) and a vibrant community.”

Rubidge says not all houses in the Karoo are of historical origin and most towns also have more modern homes with less restoration undertaken or required. He says an alternative is to invest in a vacant stand in the Karoo. In Phillipstown there are numerous large agricultural stands in excess of 2 000 square metres in size which are available from R20 000.

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