The Karoo takes centre stage

As a region, the Karoo is rapidly moving in a direction that is encouraging sustained growth and investment – with focus areas which include conservation, heritage, food and quality of life, says Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties manager for the Karoo.

“The towns and farms that make up the Great Karoo are alive and busy developing their own unique styles of the ‘brand Karoo’”. Examples of initiatives based on what makes the Karoo unique in the world include The Karoo’s Meat of Origin Initiative, which underlines the fact that the most distinctively flavoured lamb and mutton in the country – maybe even the world, is from the Karoo, where sheep graze among fragrant shrubs and grasses.

“Another is The Camdeboo Mohair and Dunhill Partnership for the Dunhill Camdeboo pure mohair blazer, which is described as ‘one of the must-have articles for any gentleman’ by British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. A further example is the wool story that is emerging, where South Africa is now sustainably producing some of the world’s best wool and 50 percent of the world’s mohair – with the most sought after from the Karoo. Then there is the Karoo Food Revolution where the region’s cuisine is recognised as promoting a unique healthy style based on what is produced in the Karoo. There are a number of food-related festivals and initiatives such as the Prince Albert Olive Festival, The Karoo Food Festival in Cradock, the Karoo Slow-Cooked events and many more, not to mention successful books such as ‘Karoo Venison’.”

In conjunction with these are various other events taking place in the Karoo. The month of November sees the second sitting of the Karoo Parliament in Cradock.  In October Richmond hosted the Heritage South Africa’s National Symposium where the town showcased its historic, flat-roofed houses which are like no other town in South Africa. With specialists such as historians, archaeologists and palaeontologists invited to present short lectures raising awareness of what makes the Karoo so special, the symposium served to highlight the unique attributes and properties of the Karoo.

“Each town has the opportunity to create it owns niche within the burgeoning groundswell of interest which began gathering impetus from around 2004/5. This interest was initially sparked by a growing appreciation of the special categories of property the Karoo has to offer, coupled with increasing interest in investing in a country lifestyle – particularly in the various regions within the Karoo,” says Rubidge.

This well known and popular guesthouse in Hanover in the Karoo (Northern Cape) is being sold as a going concern. With six private, en suite rooms, large lounge, dining area, large kitchen and ample parking space, it is on the market at R1.595 million through Pam Golding Properties. 

The Karoo represents around 40 percent of South Africa’s landscape dotted with a wide range of distinct towns, where interest in residential property continues unabated. This includes the ongoing discovery of special properties in emerging Karoo towns. Northern Cape Towns like Hanover, Richmond, Phillipstown, and Loxton remain attractive and offer a wide range of Karoo vernacular architectural styles and unbeatable value.

Says Rubidge: “The Karoo offers a wide range of towns with properties across all price bands. In Graaff-Reinet and Prince Albert, for example, many homes change hands for in excess of R1 million, while in smaller towns the most popular price band is under R500 000.

“Those buying property in the Karoo do so for a variety of reasons, including retiring to a secure and affordable location with a relaxed way of life. Others, particularly in the 50 plus age group, choose the Karoo to work from, with a number of new buyers opening businesses. The ever-popular lifestyle attracts well-known authors, journalists and artists, with young couples and other buyers often looking for cheaper historic properties which they can renovate or restore themselves.”

 Located in Loxton in the Karoo (Northern Cape), this attractive five bedroom (two en suite) property is set across two plots of 1268sqm each and is entitled to two hours of leiwater (flood irrigation from the town fountain) per week. The property includes a main five bedroom house with private courtyard, adjoining self-contained flatlet, self-contained corrugated iron cottage, two splash pools and a 60-seater restaurant, all set in gardens shaded by pear and a variety of other fruit trees, with beautiful roses and grape vines. The property is priced at R1.65 million through Pam Golding Properties.

Pam Golding Properties’ Phillipstown office reports an interesting new trend towards sustainable farming in order to be almost self-sufficient. Says Rubidge: “These buyers are into sun and wind power, providing their own water as far as possible and sewerage disposal, and keeping chickens, pigs and the like. Of the past 18 properties sold in the town, four were couples relocating for retirement, while we’ve seen others acquiring old, dilapidated houses for R50 000 to R100 000 to renovate. We also find a number of people in their 50s working from Phillipstown in IT and design work, bringing an injection of new money into the local economy.

“In Hanover we recently concluded the sale of a three bedroom family house which has been transformed into a seven room (all en suite), 5 Star guesthouse. The buyer had the vision when viewing the property to turn this into a business venture to capitalise on a gap in the market. Hopefully, to coincide with the opening of this beautiful guesthouse, fitted with imported interior items and specially designed sash windows, will be the migration of the Lesser Kestrel birds from as far as Kazakhstan and Siberia on their sojourn to Southern Africa.”

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