In the area 3 – St Francis Bay

Eastern Cape hamlet booming

Despite constrained economic conditions, and it being winter, buyers in St Francis Bay at the gateway to the Garden Route is coming out of hibernation.

During recent winter months the Pam Golding Properties office in St Francis Bay has achieved its highest sales in the past few years, with sales turnover totalling R35-million for the months of July, August and September 2009.

Sales are doubling

"This is just over double our sales turnover for the same period last year (2008), and after only seven months we have already achieved our sales target for the current financial year, which commenced in March," says Richard Arderne, area principal for PGP.

"It seems there is more demand for St Francis Bay than many other coastal towns — no doubt attributable to the fact that we have world class sporting facilities (i.e. surfing, golf, etc.), a unique and highly successful canal waterway system, a secure, clean and well-run town coupled with St Francis Bay's village atmosphere and quaint size, making it possible to walk or cycle everywhere."

More full-time residents

He says an indication of the growing popularity of this scenic coastal hamlet is the fact that the percentage of full-time residents has increased from around 25 percent to approximately 35 percent, with more people choosing to make St Francis Bay their permanent base.

"Most of our buyers are successful business executives in the 40-55 year age group, who believe the property market has bottomed out. The bulk are from Johannesburg with the balance from elsewhere in South Africa as well as from around the world. They have been looking, offering and purchasing in the R3-million to R7-million price range, primarily for use as holiday accommodation and a sound leisure investment. However, most of these buyers plan to spend more time here as the years go by.

Prime locations popular

"They look at prime locations — on the canals, the beach or river. The going rate for homes on the waterfront is from about R3-million on the canals, from approximately R4.5-million on the river, from around R6-million on the beach and from about R4.5-million on the rocks.

"Generally they seek fairly large homes, in excellent condition and with modern layouts. Some are prepared to renovate, but most prefer to buy the finished product, preferably furnished. Buyers are well informed and many have spent holidays here or were previously homeowners in the village. While they comprise mainly cash buyers, some have sizeable mortgages. One of our Gauteng-based clients, who has been holidaying here for some years, has just made a cash purchase of a luxury home on the beach for R6.8-million, having finally found his dream holiday home after looking for a number of years."

Locals relocating, retirees moving in

Arderne says in addition to the out of town and top-end buyers, there are always locals relocating and retirees moving in, typically looking in the price range between R1.5-million and R2.5-million, and who usually have to sell before they can buy.

He adds: "While buyers tend to make offers below asking price, it's a fact that values in prime positions in St Francis Bay have not reduced to any significant extent. There are, however, other properties that have been on the market for far too long, and these owners may well be asking unrealistic prices. Unfortunately, currently the demand for old-fashioned houses and for plots is not strong. Most of our sales have been in instances where we have had a sole mandate, which enables us to market the properties extensively and achieve the best price."

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