Desirable' Bloemfontein market is blooming at last

WITH most residential property pundits focusing on the Cape Town and Johannesburg property markets, scant regard has been paid to Bloemfontein.

But Bloemfontein is experiencing a boom of its own, and estate agents there attribute this to factors such as an emerging black middle class, a shortage of land and low interest rates.

Jan Janse van Vuuren, principal of real estate agency ERA Bloemfontein, attributes the buoyant residential market mainly to people in the emerging black middle class now selling their houses in the townships and entering traditionally white areas.

Another reason, Janse van Vuuren says, is that the pace of development in Bloemfontein has not kept up with the demand in the middle-class residential property market. "There is a huge gap in the R350000 or lower market. There is just no new development in that area," he says.

Janse van Vuuren says rapidly rising prices are forcing first-time home buyers to change their buying patterns, leaving the northern suburbs of the city to become more than ever the preserve of wealthier buyers while they focus on the southern suburbs.

This in turn is bringing about a renaissance in property standards in the southern areas, where the home-improvement and refurbishment market is flourishing as buyers, many drawn from previously disadvantaged communities, transform their neighbourhoods with the help of housing loans from parastatals and big business.

Janse van Vuuren says this has led to rising property values in the south, adding to the buoyant conditions of the Bloemfontein market in general.

He says prices in the southern suburb of Wilgehof, which were in the R80000-to-R120000 bracket 18 months ago, are now in the region of R200000, while those in Fichardtpark, one of the more upmarket established southern suburbs, have risen as high as R700000.

Prices continue to rise in the northern suburbs as well. Janse van Vuuren says that in areas such as Dan Pienaar, which 18 months ago commanded prices in the region of R400000, prices have virtually doubled.

Theresia Wysoke, sales manager at estate agency Aida Bloemfontein, says the Bloemfontein market has experienced a "good few years".

She says that the desirable suburbs are totally built up, which is driving prices higher. "The newer areas where they are building are far-flung. Some of the areas are very nice but you are paying more per square metre," says Wysoke.

However, Fred Sadie, principal for Nationlink in Bloemfontein, attributes the strong market to the lower interest rate environment and booming South African property market in general.

Pam Golding Properties' Bloemfontein office says that large shopping complexes have sprung up and the waterfront continues to expand.

Verna van den Blink, area principal for Pam Golding Properties, says: "Bloemfontein is today a thriving metropolis and recognised as a highly desirable place to live."

Article From: www.bday.co.za