Mining boost for Kalahari towns

Expanding iron ore and manganese mining activity near Kathu in the Kalahari is boosting the region's economy and the housing market in particular.

This upmarket home in Kuruman is for sale through Chas Everitt International for R3,21m.It has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, spacious open-plan living areas and kitchen, a study, double garage and pool.
Dr Hardus van der Westhuizen, owner of the Chas Everitt Kuruman and Kathu real estate franchise, says prospects for the region in the short, medium and long term are excellent and that new commercial, industrial and residential development are major spin-offs of the jobs being created by expanding mining operations.
"For example a new mall in Kuruman is under construction with the opening date set for the end of the year and smaller shops and restaurants are proliferating in Kathu and surrounding towns such as Vryburg.
“A regional casino is also currently under construction and will provide further job opportunities. At the same time, demand for industrial space is increasing as more mining support industries set up shop here.”
He says residential demand is strong thanks to the inflow of new residents employed both at the mines and in the commercial and industrial sectors. “And in spite of the new Westwood residential extension in Kathu, stock levels are again under pressure."
Homes priced at R1m and less are in great demand, but, says Van der Westhuizen, stock in this category is virtually unobtainable. Most three-bedroom family homes now sell for between R1m and R2m, while stock is more readily available in the R2m to R3m price range.
Rental stock is also under pressure and although mines include rentals in pay packages there is currently little interest among buy-to-let investors, he says, because current house prices in the area make for unsatisfactory returns.
Local homeowners have, however, stepped into the breach and many attached or separate cottages and flats on large properties are being offered for rent. “In fact in some cases, owners have let their homes and moved into the smaller accommodation themselves to maximise rental earnings.”
Van der Westhuizen says one-bedroom flats currently achieve monthly rentals of between R3000 and R4000 and that two-bedroom units achieve up to R6000, while three-bedroom units typically achieve between R8000 and R10 000 a month. Luxury homes in the Kathu golfing estate are being let from about R20 000 per month.
Meanwhile, he says, the fast pace of new development and the growing number of new residents is putting local infrastructure under pressure, “and while some roads are already being upgraded, we foresee the need for significant improvements to other elements in future to keep pace with the region’s growth.”

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