Here comes the Free State!


The Free State area has been highlighted by real estate group, Pam Golding Properties, as a growth area in terms of the property market as well as increasing their market share.

Comments Dr Andrew Golding, CE of the PGP group: "Property values in these areas continue to increase due to the demand, and there is an ongoing surge of interest in the leisure and lifestyle second home market in areas such as Clarens, Fouriesburg, Parys and Denysville. Clarens anticipates the launch of a residential golf estate, which will further entrench the appeal of this extremely scenic mountain retreat."

A popular tourist destination close to major cities — some three to four hours from Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Durban, Clarens has only approximately 800 residents and most of whose properties have excellent views. PGP area principals Anne Maree and Odette Parris report that house prices for two to three bedroom homes vary from R650 000 to R1.7-million. Their main market is from Johannesburg buyers, mainly for investment and holiday homes, homes to retire to, or even third homes.

"Vacant land is in high demand, and has seen exceptional growth in value in recent years. For example, stands which just three years ago sold for R45 000 are now selling for R320 000. House prices have also increased significantly with a good quality three bedroom face brick home which sold for R340 000 three years ago now selling for R680 000.

Houses with views over the Maluti Mountains sell rapidly, and holiday homes — particularly sandstone — are always in demand but not readily available, as are homes which can be renovated and small cottage-type lock-up-and-go properties," says Parris.

PGP Clarens is currently marketing homes at Gino Park, a six-unit sectional title development in the Swartland area, where upmarket three bedroom/two bathroom homes with underfloor heating and single garage are selling for just over R1-million. At the Clarens Mountain Estate, PGP are selling 90 stands adjacent to the golf club, ranging from 1200 to 2000sqm priced between R399 000 and R790 000.

Value for money Bloem

In Bloemfontein, PGP area manager Estie Olivier says properties sell across a broad spectrum of prices and areas.

"Buyers want value for money, and the main demand for homes is not necessarily for any specific area, but rather across a specific price range eg R600 000 to R850 000 in the south, and R850 000 to R1-million in the north — the latter mainly from out of town buyers.

The buy to let market remains strong, and there's a great demand from retirees looking for secure, affordable units. At present, the summer 'buzz' is on the way where more buyers will traditionally enter the market. This is further boosted by the fact that Bloemfontein is perceived to be relatively safe when compared with other cities, with a lower crime rate," she says.

The city's new casino in the south is expected to further increase the demand for homes, while a new shopping centre in Langenhoven Park — a popular area among younger buyers in particular, especially for townhouses — may also impact positively on the residential property market.

The price range of properties available varies considerably from area to area, and good value can still be achieved with neat, well maintained three- to four-bedroom family homes with swimming pool and entertainment area available in aeras like Universitas and Fichardt Park, priced between R850 000 to R930 000.

Buy-to-let booming

In Willows, two bedroom flats and units in complexes, popular among the buy to let market (catering for student accommodation) range from R250 000 to R600 000. At Pentagon Park in the north, three to four bedroom luxury units sell from R850 000 to R1-million, in Universitas in the west, older spacious homes — some with modernised kitchens and bathrooms — with large gardens can be bought from around R780 000 to R1.2 million, while at Fichardt Park in the south, there's a huge demand for freestanding units in the R680 000 to R860 000 price range.

Olivier says in Heuwelsig, where strong annual capital appreciation of homes — averaging at 26 percent — has been achieved since 2001, buyers are currently not prepared to pay in excess of R1.5-million. In some instances, return on investment has been exceptional - a home in Fichardt Park which sold for R355 000 in 2002, recently sold for R860 000.

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