In the area 1 – Observatory

Craig Gilfillan, Rawson Properties’ new franchise principal serving Observatory and related areas, takes on his new position with two great advantages, says Tony Clarke, MD of Rawson Properties.

“The first is that he has eleven years’ property marketing experience in exactly the area he is now serving – he was formerly employed by a rival agency here – and made a huge success of his job with them.

“His other big advantage is that he has rented 60m² right in the centre of this precinct, at 100 Lower Main Road. This is the focal point of activity in Observatory. The area is alive and on the go 18 hours a day.”

Craig said, after taking over on the 11th January that he expects to be employing three agents in the next three months. His confidence is based on the fact that for some four months now he has been seeing a steady increase in interest from buyers and on his contact list – he believes he is probably the “best connected” agent serving the entire area.

The new optimism, said Craig, has not yet affected prices but he believes these will show a marked upward increase from the middle of this year.

“For some time now,” he said, “Observatory has been a prime investment area for property holders because it offers good value and above average rentals. This, in turn, is the result of its very large student and young professionals population and because there is almost no room now for new development, only for conversions.”

One of the characteristics of Observatory, he added, is that although it is a high density precinct, it has very few flats, the majority tenants here occupying rooms in communal houses.

Until the slump, said Craig, Observatory property was rising at 10 to 15% per annum but from the second quarter of 2008 it started to lose value. Nevertheless, the falls were not that drastic and he now predicts an 8 to 10% rise will be seen again by the end of this year.

“By the end of 2012, there will most certainly be no properties in this area that have not increased by 10 to 15% in value, if not more.”

Craig points out, however, that right now the value for money obtainable in this area is almost unequalled in the Cape Peninsula. On his books at present is a two bedroom home in Woodstock giving a rental of R4 800 per month. The asking price for this property is R649 000. Another very good buy, he believes, would be a freestanding Victorian home with three bedrooms which is being offered at R1, 395 million.

Although he himself will continue to focus on Observatory, Craig says that his territory covers Salt River, Woodstock, Upper Woodstock and Lower Walmer Estate. All these areas, he says, will be served by the new team that he is recruiting. He has also been given a caretaker role for Pinelands pending its sale to a new franchise.

Certain commentators at the Rawson head office have said that the great potential of this entire area has been greatly increased by the growing reluctance among Capetonians to spend time commuting to the city centre. Observatory, Woodstock and related areas being within ten minutes’ drive , the area is bound to continue to see upward moving prices.

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