Rise in house sales continue in bouyant St Francis property market

By Bev Mortimer

Home sales are up in a buoyant market. Agents are extremely busy and pleased with the continued increase in sales that started in 2013.
This is the verdict from the three of the biggest estate agencies in St Francis Bay. And the good news for the property market according to Jennifer Cooper of Harcourts Oyster in St Francis Bay, is that banks are granting mortgages more freely than before “and if our experience is anything to go by, buyers are willing to open their wallets in this exquisite part of the Eastern Cape.”
Pam Golding’s (PG) Richard Arderne says that after doubling our turnover for the 12 months to 28 February, PG has continued to be busy with numerous sales. “In May and early June we concluded a number of top end sales, which was very pleasing, with a few more in the offing!
Cooper says that while Harcourts is pleased with the recent increase in sales activity throughout all its offices, none of the agents are surprised. “The property market has been showing encouraging signs for some time,” she says.
Chas Everitt International franchisee, Brendon Lahana and his team of agents has sold 13 properties in St Francis Bay in the past five months for a total value of R32m; 9 of these were waterfront properties on the Canals and Kromme River. He says that like the rest of the Eastern Cape the St Francis Bay area is enjoying a resurgence of its property market, with demand and sales having been on the increase since the start of 2014.
Arderne points out that the excellent performance by PG SFB is is way ahead of the growth being produced by Pam Golding nationally, where turnover continues to climb by about 25% every month when compared with the same month a year ago – as it has done for the past few years, fuelled partially by market share growth.
Cooper concurs about increased performance: “Simply put, we had a terrific first quarter fielding double the usual number of enquiries on our Property24 and Harcourts sites from people wishing to invest in this beautiful part of the world. To say that St Francis Bay and Jeffreys Bay have become busier during the school holidays and over public holidays is an understatement.
“We have literally been swamped by visitors, many of whom are keen to invest in property in our area,” she continues. “What has really grabbed our attention though is the fact that sales in the second-home market have increased dramatically over the past couple of months,” she continues.
“While we are thrilled by the renewed interest in the second-home market, we are aware that it’s not only pleasure seekers who are driving the local property market.
“The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm project is rapidly taking shape and is boosting demand for residential homes in both Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp with some purchasing in St Francis. The increasing demand for homes in these areas is also boosting the demand for commercial property from national tenants. The news that an announcement on the Thuyspunt nuclear plant in Oyster Bay is imminent will bring an interesting dynamic.”
Lahana also refers to the second hand hone market: “Traditionally a holiday town where most properties were second homes, St Francis Bay is now attracting an increasing number of permanent residents, including retirees, as well as investors who foresee good capital growth in coastal property over the next few years. And there’s good rental demand in the meanwhile due to the infrastructure development projects currently taking place in this area,” he says.
Arderne notes though that prices are still under pressure, particularly for plots, with buyers having a wide range of options to choose from.
Cooper maintains the majority of interest remains in the entry level properties and the very top end of the market. For the first time in many years, buyers are turning to plots with numerous sales in the Spanish area of plots under R250 000, and a good couple of canal plots.”
Lahana remarks that the town is getting ‘younger’ and it is these type of buyers who have noted that after a few years in the doldrums, property prices here have slowly started to shift back towards their pre-recession highs. “So these buyers are moving quickly to ensure they will catch the next upturn.”
Turning to the performance of PG nationally, Arderne says that he and Gold Club agent, Lois Fox, attended the annual PG national conference and awards ceremony at Arabella, near Hermanus. The PG national top agent made an amazing R350m in sales (in Sandton), and she will travel with the other top 20 agents to the Formula 1 in Budapest in July.

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