Knysna sees new release of properties to meet strong demand for estate living

As the popularity of secure, estate living continues to attract home buyers in regions around South Africa, the scenic Garden Route town of Knysna, with its lagoon playground, clean beaches, magical forests, renowned Oyster Festival and host of leisure activities, is gearing up to cater for this growing demand.

Scenic view from Fernwood Country Estate in Knysna
Ling Dobson, Pam Golding Properties area principal for Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, says while both these towns offer a broad variety of lifestyle accommodations, with a range of existing beach, marina or golf estates to choose from, new stock in secure estates is now being brought to market. 
Pam Golding Properties (PGP) has just been awarded an exclusive mandate to market 72 vacant stands in Fernwood Country Estate - which is situated on the Heads, adjacent to the famous, award-winning Pezula Estate - as well as seven houses in the second phase of Simola Golf & Country Estate, set high in the hills above the town.
“Severely impacted by the economic recession and subsequent property market downturn in 2008, which saw a number of developments put on hold, Fernwood was sold to a local, Knysna developer who is re-launching the development at prices some 50-60 percent lower than the original launch prices of 2007,” says Dobson.
“Now all services are installed, roads paved, landscaping completed and the entire estate securely fenced with access security gate, together with the security system linking all the properties already installed in the gatehouse. The developer, an established, local businessman, is also supporting local contractors by involving them on the project.

The view from ‘Woodlands’ in phase two of Simola Golf and Country Estate in Knysna.
“We believe the timing is now right for this development as we see the market showing definite indicators for improvement. The municipality is reflecting a huge increase in demand for approvals for architectural plans, and locals are demonstrating an appetite for investment once more. Encouragingly, there is also a strong demand for vacant land, while international buyers are back and showing considerable interest in acquiring property here.
“As at the end of October 2014, PGP sales at our Knysna and Plett offices are up over 30 percent on last year and we anticipate a good season ahead.” Properties sold by PGP include top end properties such as a guesthouse on The Heads which sold for R9 million, homes sold for R6 million on Leisure Isle, R5.9 million and R4.5 million on Pezula Golf Estate and R6 million on Thesen Islands, to entry level homes priced in the R1.3 million mark in the suburbs.
Fernwood Country Estate comprises a total of 46.5ha, of which 25 percent will be developed, with a recreational area around a large, natural pond and large open spaces contributing to the exclusivity of the development. Stand sizes range from 400sqm up to 1600sqm, at prices starting from R375 000 up to R1.95 million. Architectural guidelines are in place and buyers have four years to build their new homes.
Dobson says over and above the 15 stands sold via the developer or when the estate was originally launched, local buyers have already committed to investing on the estate. “Besides Pezula Golf Estate, Fernwood is the only secure estate in Knysna that offers such exceptional views and at such accessible prices. Being situated right on The Heads, residents will enjoy expansive vistas across the lagoon to the Outeniqua Mountains as well as some ocean views. The estate is home to a butterfly sanctuary and a host of natural, indigenous fynbos, providing a unique and highly desirable setting. We believe the new development caters for both permanent residents and leisure buyers seeking a getaway property or home for partial use during the year. It is within easy reach of Knysna CBD and close to medical facilities, making it ideal for retirees.”

An artist’s impression of one of the homes in ‘Woodlands’ in phase two of Simola Golf and Country Estate in Knysna.
In the 325ha Simola Golf & Country Estate – which includes a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, the seven new three-bedroom homes in ‘Woodlands’ comprise a small portion of the second phase of the development. Says Dobson: “The first phase on Simola is well developed with many exquisite houses, a number of which are permanently occupied. Phase two is large, with properties scattered to the front – some with spectacular lagoon views on the northern side adjacent to the indigenous forest. Priced from R2.95 million and 275sqm in size, the seven new homes will be situated at the entrance of the second phase gate en route to the hotel and close to the banks of the dam, below the forested area and fairways.
“Given the past five-year slump in the market the launch of these new homes in Woodlands offers a sound buying opportunity with good value for money.”  Homes in the first phase in Simola start at R3.75 million – being the top 10 townhouses with scenic river views, while golf villas are priced at R4.5 million. Probably the closest residences comparable to the seven new homes are currently priced in the R5 million - R7 million mark, while homes on the estate range up to the mid-R20 million’s. A recent top end transaction concluded by PGP on Simola was for the sale of a four bedroom home with study and cinema room which fetched R12.9 million.
Adds Dobson: “Generally this year there has been a notable increase in the number of residential buyers from Cape Town, but also a good basket from all over South Africa as well as international purchasers. Quite a few young families with school-going children are relocating to Knysna, and the second home or leisure market is seeing an increase in activity.
“Many people are semi-grating to live and commute as their families can enjoy a healthy lifestyle, as crime is minimal compared to large cities, allowing children to still be themselves and unencumbered in the outdoors.  Many entrepreneurs and professionals who do not need to be in an office on a daily basis, find their way here, while many internationals retire here as the weather and cost of living is favourable.”

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