Younger homebuyers invigorate residential property market in smaller towns
Historically, statistical reports on residential property price appreciation and market activity tend to focus on the major metros and hubs in South Africa. However, Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group, says that in recent years it’s become apparent that there are numerous towns that cannot be underestimated from a medium to long-term capital growth perspective, not to mention lifestyle and value for money – in many instances resulting in an influx of younger homebuyers.
GEORGE, GARDEN ROUTE
George is considered the ‘capital’ of the Garden Route and attracts business people wanting to relocate, semigrators, and retirees seeking a gentler way of life in an appealing environment. According to Lightstone stats, recent buyers (February 2021 to January 2022) are widely distributed across all age groups, suggesting that George’s housing market holds broad appeal.
However, with 43% of recent buyers falling into the 36 to 49 age category, and a further 16% young adults (18 to 35) it seems the town is also attracting a large number of young professionals and families. “The natural scenic beauty of the surrounds is highly appealing – including the Outeniqua Mountains which ensure that the area enjoys good rainfall, providing a lush, tranquil environment. Buyers are purchasing mainly for primary residential use and often with retirement in mind.” says Stephen Murray, Pam Golding Properties area principal in George. “As a property class I also anticipate that in the not‑too‑distant future popular new developments may take the form of sectional title apartments as affordability becomes more important.”
This town services farmers in the area, and 34% of recent buyers were young adults, many presumably first-time young homebuyers. As this is considered one of the top municipalities in the country, many people choose to live in Middelburg and work in nearby Witbank (eMalahleni). “Between May and July 2021 the Steve Tshwete Municipality sold approximately 644 stands to the public, adding to the town’s appeal,” says Louis Greeff, area principal for Pam Golding Properties. These included residential and commercial stands ranging between R98,000 and R2,132m. Accurately priced housing accommodation in the town is also in high demand with a shortage of stock in the R800,000 to R1,2m price range.
RUSTENBURG, NORTH WEST
Following the trend towards a younger generation of buyers, this mining town seems to be regenerating and is experiencing an influx of young homebuyers up to the age of 35, which now comprise more than a third of all purchasers, as well as middle-aged buyers. Although the town has experienced muted price gains, activity has rebounded steadily over the past decade. “Positively, the mines are stable and operating and also re-employing staff. As a result, there is limited rental stock available while there is a strong demand for properties below R1,5m,” says Ian Straarup, Pam Golding Properties area principal in Rustenburg.
This mining town also reports a marked inflow of younger homebuyers, with the majority (57%) of recent purchasers being middle-aged (36 to 49 years) and a further 31% aged 35 years or younger. Although price gains have remained modest, activity has strengthened in recent years. “This is a mining community with an abundance of job opportunities, as well as being a thoroughfare to the Kruger National Park and with numerous tourist attractions within an hour’s reach,” says area principal Andreas Greeff.
DENEYSVILLE, FREE STATE
An extraordinarily high 78% of homeowners here have owned their homes for 11 or more years. After remaining steady for much of the past decade, the sale of freehold homes surged in 2021, while vacant plot sales accelerated sharply in recent years – particularly in 2020 and 2021. “Looking at these graphs shows the amount of people who during the Covid-19 period have opted to move out of the cities to country towns. We have seen this trend with our ‘weekender’ homes whose owners now live at the dam and work from home or commute to Johannesburg,” says Pam Golding Properties area principal, Phil Medlock.
PORT EDWARD, KZN SOUTH COAST
Port Edward continues to attract older buyers such as retirees mainly from the larger metropoles and the Eastern Cape, and the town retains its reputation as a desirable retirement destination. “Value for money, a good year‑round climate, beautiful Blue Flag beaches on a pristine coastline and top-class golf courses are a drawcard for this market, coupled with a close-knit, friendly community,” says Cath Molyneux, area principal for Pam Golding Properties.
Renowned for its trout fishing and with frequent snowfalls in winter, picturesque Dullstroom is experiencing a flush of new interest in houses, cottages, smallholdings and farms. This town trends towards an older homeowner. With 65% of homeowners having owned their properties for 11 years or more, indicating a stable housing market, 35% of these are retirees, while 46% of recent buyers are in the mature age group.
“Apart from the mature age category, we are seeing families who want to work from home and raise their children in the countryside, as well as investors seeking properties to accommodate weekend tourists, leisure buyers and those looking to acquire trout farms,” says Elisme Swart, Pam Golding Properties area principal.
CLARENS, EASTERN FREE STATE
Some three to four hours from Gauteng, Bloemfontein and Durban, this village offers a secure country lifestyle that is attractive to homebuyers of any age, as commuting back to the metros is do-able. “Prices of residential properties here have been on the rise since 2014, and we have seen noticeable interest from buyers from within the province. Most of these buyers are looking for property in the R1m to R2m price bracket,” says Anne Maree, Pam Golding Properties area principal.
At the foot of the Drakensberg, Hoedspruit is arguably the fastest growing inland hub, with an active residential property market. “Our key selling point is definitely the bushveld. The weather is good, we have lovely open spaces and offer a good choice of schools, a broad selection of interesting shops and restaurants, internet and also security,” says the company’s area principal, Engela van Staden. Homes in secure wildlife estates are popular and there is also a demand for townhouse complexes as these are more affordable, as currently homes on the older wildlife estates are priced from R2,5m.