St Francis Bay property sales & building boom continues

By Bev Mortimer

There is still a positive and upbeat mood in St Francis Bay as increased building activity and property sales continues.

The first house, almost complete that has been constructed (by Custom Construction) on the canals after the fire in November last year. Photo: Richard Arderne

The first house, almost complete that has been constructed (by Custom Construction) on the canals after the fire in November last year. Photo: Richard Arderne

One year after the dreadful fire of 2012, the town is still rising above the ashes and as much as half of the 76 burnt plots are having new houses built on them or renovations done there.
According to Harcourts’ Mary-Lou Neate, from telephone and Internet enquiries, St Francis Bay seems to be entering a positive renaissance to the delight of those who have invested in this beautiful part of the world. “Whether the request is for upgrading, relocation, downsizing, renting or holiday accommodation, there is an increase in activity across the board,” Neate says.
“It is too early to report on the recent registered sales statistics, issued by the Deeds Office, (usually they only reflect about 3 months after the sale) but gathered information accounts for a number of concluded sales and again not in any one specific area. Correctly priced houses are finding new owners and there has been a continued interest in vacant land.
Richard Arderne of Pam Golding says the tempo of sales this year has been higher than for the past few years: 6 transfers in the first 6 months of this year, after an average of only 3 p/a for the past 3 years. Four of this year’s sales were between R1.2m and R1.7m, and 2 prime plots at R2.9m (north-facing Marina Village plot) and R3.6m (Ski Canal plot). There have been at least 3 more canal plot sales, still to be transferred, around the R1.4m – R1.8m level. The average price since 2006 has been R1.9m, dropping to R1.6m over the past three years.
A lot of renewed interest was created after the November fire of last year, he says. “We now have more canal plots on the market than at any time over the past few years, in excess of 30. Of these, more than 10 are fire related.
“Prices are under pressure, but most sellers are holding their prices reasonably high. However, for the first time in quite a few years, there are plots available at under R1m, a few more just over R1m, and some other plots being offered at excellent prices.
“St Francis Bay property transfers for the first 8 months of this year grossed over R200m for 90 sales. These figures, which include Cape St Francis and St Francis Links, are substantially higher than the last few years. Locally, we at Pam Golding St Francis are 100% up year-to-date versus last year. Obviously this does mean prices are up, and in fact a recent bank report indicates that prices are still below the 2008 high.”
Arderne agrees with others that the fire sparked a building boom with almost half the 76 houses burnt now being re-built. “This has obviously been good for the building contractors, and allied businesses, and the town in general.
“The houses being built on the canals will bring a modern look to the village, and all this action has resulted in St Francis Bay being in the spotlight which has alerted buyers to realising that perhaps this is the time to buy.
Brendon Lahana of Chas Everitt says recent 12 month statistics indicate that there were nearly 130 successfully concluded St Francis Bay property sales (this includes new and established homes). Of these property transfers, some 22 were sectional title townhouse or apartment units, 26 estate-based (such as the St Francis Links) and 79 free-standing houses. Around 50 of the concluded purchase and sales were R800 000 or less in value, while more than 70 were transactions above R800 000.”
Arderne also reveals statistics that reveal that St Francis has seen transfers totalling over R170m for the first 6 months this year, including Cape St Francis and St Francis Links. “This figure is substantially higher than the last few years, and notably there have been 17 transfers over R3m, indicating that the top end of the market has picked up.
“The houses being built on the canals will bring a modern look to the village. All this action has resulted in St Francis Bay being in the spotlight which has alerted buyers to realising that perhaps this is the time to buy.”
Not only St Francis Bay , but Cape St Francis too has had increased sales this year. and Dane Shaw from Resort Estates enthuses about the sales boom in this tiny neighbouring village . He says the Resort Estate has had four sales mid year, with three of them in two days in July. He believes the levies in the Resort’s security estate, with its own task force operating 24/7, offer the best value for money.
Also up at St Francis Links the sales boom continues with 7 property transfers last month and with another 18 transfers pending. Sales prices achieved still make for a buyer’s market. In addition, another a site handover for construction was carried out at the end of October, making it 14 homes under construction!
Marsha Haupt from Links Living says the local housing market is gaining momentum at a steady, positive pace. “House prices continue to rise and demand is increasing with consumer confidence moving back to property.
Haupt points out that with the low interest rates that continue to support the property market, it makes it affordable for most to obtain mortgage finance, thus creating positive activity that has been lacking for four years. She believes the coastal area of St Francis can most certainly look forward to a busy summer season.
Neate remarks that enquiries for second home investments and vacant land have increased. “Recent sales reflect registrations at the higher end of the market showing an upswing and confidence in the area and we believe this will continue to improve.”
There is no doubt that St Francis Bay has also been experiencing a mini building boom since the beginning of the year.
Around 21 houses are being re-constructed. All the burnt houses, bar five, were demolished. New homes are being built or renovated. In June and July combined 43 building plans were approved by Kouga Municipality for additions alone.
The huge cash injection into the construction industry and allied trades was a necessity, says builder Arthur Joubert. “It was a tragic thing that happened but the resultant building boom has helped the town survive.”
“It’s been a very good year for BluView Construction,” says the company’s owner, Willem du Bruin. “We’ve completed The Water Club (17 units on the canals). We’re currently busy rebuilding St Francis Bay.
“It is good to know that people are still spending money to rebuild or even do alterations and renovations to keep their houses in good shape – so that they can still enjoy St Francis Bay! We’re looking forward to next year to be of service to the people of St Francis Bay with quality eco-friendly building and finishes!”
Other builders point out that 2012 was a bad time for the building industry with many tradesmen considering relocating to Port Elizabeth before the fire occurred. “But with the regeneration in the industry, St Francis Bay is reaping the benefits of the cash injection,” Joubert says.
Builders agree that ‘out of the bad, the good did come.‘ “This building boom benefits all associated with the trade – there’s a spinoff to carpenters, plumbers, painters etc,” says builder Jean Hugo. “There is a lot of positivity in the industry and service suppliers are inundated with work. This naturally has a knock-on effect for all other businesses. “
The money is being spent in St Francis. So the whole town is benefitting.”
Hugo and Joubert are just two of the builders who are extremely busy right now. Both foresee much more work in the pipeline, some jobs dependent on tenders. It is widely predicted that, going by current trends, in the next three to five years all those levelled plots in the sought after canal area of St Francis Bay will most likely have been rebuilt and the area will continue to reap the benefits.
The houses being built on the canals will bring a modern look to the village, and all this action has resulted in St Francis Bay being in the spotlight which has alerted buyers to realising that perhaps this is the time to buy Arderne maintains.

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