Property prices soar in Port Alfred

GAUTENG and Western Cape buyers are snapping up holiday homes in Port Alfred, which has become a sought after retreat by South Africa's rich and famous. Estate agents this week said they were recording record sales.

Once a less popular holiday destination, Port Alfred - situated between East London and Port Elizabeth - is attracting record prices due to the "phenomenal demand" for upmarket homes and vacant plots with sea views.

Property owners now include cricketers Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and some of the country's top business executives.

This week estate agents said four years ago house-hunters once could expect to pay between R250,000 and R600,000 for their dream holiday home.

But now some properties are fetching as much as R6-million.

According to Seeff Properties, available properties include luxury apartments, cluster homes, retirement villages, small holiday houses, riverside homes with private jetties, and marina mansions.

Mike Neave, principal of Homenet Port Alfred, said developers and investors were swarming into the area.

"There is already a limited supply of beachfront properties, and these will command an increasing premium as that supply in sought-after locations is taken up," he said.

Isobel Meyer, a principal of the Pam Golding Properties, said: "A wide range of transactions, ranging from developers buying land in the new Rosehill area to repeat holidaymakers flying in to find a plot for their retirement home, are currently taking place."

She said recorded property sales last month alone were in excess of R30 million. The highest price paid for a property last year was R3.9-million compared to a recent R4.5-million sale earlier this year.

Official deeds office records show that a staggering 454 properties sold between January last year and June this year amount to a staggering R304-million. Estate agents said they expect to see more transactions this year, especially towards December.

Sales figures provided by The Knowledge Factory, the firm that compiles the authoritative SA Property Transfer Guide, show that 327 properties, worth a combined value of R206-million, were sold last year. In the first six months of this year, 127 properties transactions worth R97-million have already been made. To capitalise on the boom, several old family-owned businesses have also been put on the market.

Meyer said the businesses include an oyster farm, a baby boutique, a second hand furniture shop and several eateries and guesthouses.

"Interest [for residential property] is particularly strong from city folk looking to cash out and enjoy a slower pace of life on the Sunshine Coast," said Meyer. Other agents said developers were also snapping up properties and scarce vacant land for shopping malls and houses.

"One such complex is the Rosehill Shopping Centre on the western outskirts of the town," said Meyer. Also on the cards is a freehold retirement village including an assisted living centre, restaurant, sporting and recreational facilities; a medical centre and light industry zones. Estate agents said although several developments were under construction, the coastal town has retained most of its English fishing village feel.

The town also boasts a huge yacht harbour and residential marina, the Royal Alfred Marina. About 20-minutes from the town is the Gary Player golf course at the Fish River Sun hotel and neighbouring game reserves such as Shamwari.

Sunday Times Online

Articleby: Simpiwe Piliso - www.sundaytimes.co.za