Stellenbosch suburb of La Colline reinvents itself as hip and happening

As years pass, some suburbs wax and wane, while others simply reinvent themselves. Such is the small residential area of La Colline in Stellenbosch in the heart of the Cape Winelands.

Priced at R1.495 million and situated in La Colline in Stellenbosch, this double-storey house with potential is ideal for first-time buyers or young couples wanting to get into the property market. It includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms, swimming pool and scenic views of Simonsberg Mountain and surrounding vineyards.

Excluding a handful of secure complexes and sectional title blocks, La Colline comprises only 75 residential properties in total, all full title semi-detached homes built mainly around the 1940s and with no vacant land available. Situated on a small hill with mountain views all round, this suburb, which has generally been regarded as being on the wrong side of town, is fast becoming a hip and happening location, says Louise Varga, Pam Golding Properties area manager in Stellenbosch.

“Elevated in more ways than one, this area is undergoing a revival and transformation as a new generation of younger buyers and investors are moving in. Many with young families, they see the charm and potential of this suburb and are investing in homes they are then modernising and enhancing, helping breathe vibrant new life into the area while improving the value of their properties.

“Such is their confidence in La Colline, some have even acquired two properties, while others are investing further capital in expanding their homes as well as significantly upgrading them. It’s exciting to see such a turnaround take place, with the best of the old and new features of the properties combining to create a trendy, character-filled residential area.”

Homeowners are investing in significant improvements to properties in La Colline. This photograph shows an attractive garden which has been created.

Pam Golding Properties agent in the area, Lizanne Fourie, says there is already a strong sense of community in the suburb. “Residents look out for one another while their children play together in one of the small parks in the area. Homeowners are a like-minded mix of young people breaking the area out of its former mould with renovations and refurbishments, including extensions that will create good capital growth in the long run. Hairdressers, actors, estate agents, musicians, event organisers, professors and architects are just some of those buying into the area. They realise this makes sense, particularly as a first-time or investment acquisition.”

Overlooking Stellenbosch and the university campus, which is only 1.5km away, La Colline is conveniently situated close to main feeder routes such as the R44 to Paarl and Somerset West, Hellshoogte Pass to Franschhoek and Ryneveld Street which leads through to Dorp Street in the centre of Stellenbosch.

“Plots are from 300 to 900sqm in size, averaging around 450-550sqm,” says Fourie. “There are two types of homes, single level or double-storey, and all semi-detached. In its original form without extensions or add-ons, all these properties would cover a surface of 105 to 110sqm and comprise three bedrooms and one or two bathrooms. Prior to any renovations, if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all as the layout of the properties are all exactly the same for a single level and the same for a double-storey, with the two properties forming the detached being a mirror of each other.”

La Colline was built in 1948 by the National Housing Commission as part of an economical housing scheme. Since then, most of the area has been privatised. Says Fourie: “With Stellenbosch expanding in all directions and traffic becoming an issue, it is inevitable that the first time buyer or investor will buy into and ultimately uplift an area this close to the CBD, especially considering the low prices and potential capital growth and return on investment over the longer term.

An example of the spacious living area in a renovated home in La Colline.

“The homes in La Colline are very affordable when compared to the rest of Stellenbosch. An unrenovated three bedroom, two bathroom single or double-storey home can sell for anything between R1.1 million and R1.58 million, depending on plot size and state of the property. Just below the hill of La Colline is a suburb called Kromrivier comprising another 72 full title properties, where last year a property sold for R2.54 million. Both developers and investors are showing an interest in Kromrivier, where homes are average single-storey properties. At present we have a renovated five bedroom property here on the market for R2.6 million – with a potential rental yield of R237 000 per annum if the owner leases all five bedrooms at R3950 per room.”

Fourie says currently, one would be fortunate to find a home for R1.2 million, however, there have been one or two sales in the past two years under R1.2 million. “Buyers are investing between R300 000 and R600 000 minimum, adding rooms to the property or building flatlets for extra income. With the original shape of the properties being rectangular blocks, owners are breaking away by adding rooms to the front and/or back and thereby changing the ‘box’ appearance of the original semi-detached. Modern perimeter walls with attractive gates are being built, while care and pride in ownership is evident in the attractive gardens and sidewalks in front of the properties.

“The last five properties I have sold in La Colline since 2013 were all acquired by purchasers in the 27-35 year age group, all of whom undertook to improve or change the homes either for themselves or in order to achieve better rental income. A home here can be leased for R7 500 to R11 500 per month for a three bedroom, two bathroom property, and from R3 500 to R4 000 per month for a separate bachelor flatlet with bathroom and kitchenette.

“Over and above this, we are also seeing parents acquire properties for their children to use while attending university in Stellenbosch. While there are well-maintained properties there are few on the market. One available for purchase is a beautifully renovated three bedroom, two bathroom home with a rental income of R11 500 per month, available for purchase at R1.69 million,” adds Fourie.

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