In the area 3 – Knysna

Pam Golding Properties' sales in Knysna during May was up by 52 percent compared to the same month last year.

"Historically, Knysna's residential property sales occur mainly between November and May and as an area in total we are seeing sales activity back up to levels experienced two years ago. Our total sales for May 2009 were R14.9-million compared to R9.8-million for the same period last year. In other words, it's up by 52 percent," says Ling Dobson, area principal for Pam Golding Properties (PGP).

Knysna remains one of South Africa's most sought after destinations among national and international home buyers, says Dobson, who recently purchased the company's Knysna office as a franchise. A top Gold Club agent in the PGP group, in 2005 Dobson sold one of the well-known Knoetzie Castles for R25-million, which is still the highest price for any single residential property sold in the area.

"In recent weeks we have received enquiries from buyers — including investors — from South Africa and abroad and have achieved a number of sales in the sought after Belvidere area, among others, priced between R1.5-million and R3-million. In Belvidere there has been quite a lot of movement with sellers relocating to smaller homes, coupled with overseas buyers who have been waiting for the right prices. Other areas in demand and experiencing sales include Leisure Island, Brenton-on-Sea and central Knysna.

"While this area, like others around the country, is experiencing challenging market conditions, we are seeing that prices have rationalised, allowing for many sound investment opportunities across all price sectors — particularly for cash buyers, which form the bulk of our sales. An example of this is a 320m², three bedroom, two bathroom home situated on Leisure Isle, which sold for R2.3-million," she says.

Dobson says an important factor in Knysna's ongoing appeal is that it is considered a premier holiday destination and offers a lifestyle which draws those wishing to escape the crime and frenetic pace of busy city life to a more appealing and relaxed way of life in a scenic coastal environment. She says the area is also home to many families where the breadwinner commutes on a regular basis to cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town — an increasing trend, as well as those who have retired.

Another noteworthy and rapidly growing trend is the growing interest from overseas buyers, mainly for high end properties priced from R10-million to R30-million and mostly located at Pezula and Leisure Isle, with most of these enquiries initially received via the PGP website.

"During the past several months we have had many international visitors in town — from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Russia, Holland and France — as well as South Africans browsing for the best buys available," says Dobson. "Despite the negative impact of the global economic crisis, Knysna has retained a reasonably sound value in areas such as Belvidere, Leisure Isle, Thesen Islands, Sparrebosch, Pezula and Eastford Estates. While in many other suburbs we have experienced a rationalisation of prices, very few showed extreme bottom-out prices and those home owners who felt no pressing need to sell preferred to take their homes off the market rather than drop to unrealistic values.

"Moving forward we are optimistic that the property market in Knysna will show growth this year, especially from the early summer onwards and leading into 2010. Knysna is still a developing area and we foresee some promising new residential projects starting in the future which will not only attract buyers but help our local community in terms of jobs and economic injection."

Bucking the national trend PGP recently increased its staff with two additional agents and has plans to expand to a third office on Thesen Islands. "We also intend growing the rentals division substantially as there is significant potential growth in terms of both long-term rentals as well as short-tem holiday rentals," says Dobson.

Currently long-term rental prices range from R3000 per month upwards for two bedroom flats, from R6500 to R12 000 for three and four bedroom houses — depending on location, while secure, luxury lifestyle estates such as Sparrebosch and the area of Belvidere commands higher rentals. Leisure or holiday rentals range from an average of approximately R2000 a day, up to R5000 per day at a location such as Pezula.

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