Gautengers saving Clarens

The scenic town of Clarens in the Eastern Free State is experiencing renewed interest among residential property buyers, reports Pam Golding Properties area principal Anne Maree.

"In addition to increased enquiries, sales have definitely picked up — for the three month period from July to September this year we've sold homes to a total value of R8-million compared with R1.8-million during the same period last year, says Maree.

Buyers are mostly from Gauteng, purchasing a leisure home or for future retirement. Being a tourist town and just three to four hours away from major cities such as Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Durban, Clarens attracts numerous weekend visitors and holidaymakers, and in fact most homes offer self-catering and/or bed and breakfast facilities.

"With property prices having adjusted over the past year, this area offers home buyers very good value for money," says Maree. For example, in the appealing suburb of Larola you can acquire a three bedroom, two bathroom home for just R656 000, while the average price of a home in Clarens — e.g. a three bedroom home in a complex — is under a million rand. A three to four bedroom, double-storey, sandstone or plastered home located in the village is priced in the region of R2.7-million."

Vacant stands are also available — competitively priced from R150 000 to R985 000 — with no time constraints in terms of commencing construction. In the town stands range in size from 798m² to 3000m², while on Clarens Golf Estate they are between 500m² and 1000m². On Clarens Mountain Estate which provides uninterrupted views of the Maluti Mountains, the average stand size is 1400m². At Sandstone Gorge and Riverside Estate, just outside the town, stands vary from one to four hectares in size. One hectare plots are also available in sectional title developments.

Clarens has a permanent population of approximately 1000 and, depending on activities taking place, this can escalate to around 8000 on weekends. With its crisp mountain air, breathtaking scenery and host of arts and craft shops, this picturesque village is known for its appealing sandstone buildings and is also within easy reach of Golden Gate National Park. The town itself is mainly bounded by large farms and green conservancy areas.

"Apart from the fact that Clarens enjoys an idyllic, relaxing lifestyle with very low crime, the area is renowned for its variety of activities and events," adds Maree. "Just recently Mini-Cooper held their 50th birthday celebrations in Clarens Square and during this month (November) we host the 'Steelwings' Harley Davidson national rally as well as the annual Cherry Festival on 20 November. During the Christmas holidays there are various attractions including a flea market over the long weekend."

Tourists are often bussed in on day trips — sometimes with large groups of international visitors. With a total of around 350 guesthouses, B&B's and self-catering accommodation facilities, Clarens is fully geared towards the tourism industry. However, says Maree, only three guesthouses are currently on the market as trading is brisk. Priced between R4.4-million and R5-million, these comprise guesthouses of two to six bedrooms while the third consists of six self-catering units.

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