The emergence of the Karoo as a leading alternative lifestyle choice continually attracts interest from home buyers in its diverse variety of properties on offer.
The wide open spaces and myriad of towns offer a broad spectrum of appealing properties to choose from. Whether it is Karoo farms, historical houses or classic Karoo cottages, the region has something of interest for almost everyone, says Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties (PGP) manager for the Karoo region.
"Although the Karoo has no coastal towns, it does have two of the largest inland lakes in the country and many freshwater dams around very scenic towns such as Graaff-Reinet, Gariep and Vanderkloof. The 'trophy' homes of each of these towns are sought after because of their unique value, and to many investors these are their prized property portfolio investments. Many of these homes were built by Karoo 'barons' of a bygone era – from the ostrich and wool booms of the 19th and 20th century," he says.
Graaff-Reinet, the fourth oldest town in South Africa, and surrounding towns such as Aberdeen, are intrinsically linked to these former, prosperous times.  PGP is marketing some of these choice homes, including one of Graaff-Reinet's original farmhouses built in 1850 – complete with wine cellars, yellowwood floors and all you would expect from a prestigious Karoo character home. Located on a spacious stand and currently being renovated, this property of historical and cultural value to the town is priced at R1.75 million. Apart from producing sweet wines, part of the original estate's history was that of a wool wash for the farmers who brought their wool clip by ox wagon.
Another striking property on the market in Graaff-Reinet is an elegant, double-storey Edwardian, Cape Dutch style home built in 1911 for a well-known sheep-farming family, and which was sold for the first time in 1987. The main homestead includes four bedrooms, four bathrooms and four reception rooms. In a park-like garden are a further five en suite guest rooms, with a further three being leased from the adjoining property – all with private parking. This property, which has potential for development as a boutique hotel or upmarket retirement village, is currently one of the town's most popular and successful guesthouses and is marketed at R6.3 million.
In the quaint and sought after town of Aberdeen an elegant Victorian home, built in the ostrich boom years around 1897 is also on the market, priced at R950 000.  Over the past 112 years only four families have lived in this stylish home, which has six bedrooms, two bathrooms, three fireplaces and Oregon floors. Situated in the tower is a former gambling room with views over the 'plein', useful for scanning for any approaching policeman intent on disrupting this popular pastime. When the police did arrive the table was turned upside down and the members were hastily reading the Torah. Some of the walls are still covered with the original wallpaper such as those used in smoking rooms back in 1940, while the front hallway light is the original from the 1800's.
Adds Rubidge: "Many other towns such as Somerset East, Prince Albert and Carnarvon offer such uniquely Karoo homes. The history and heritage of some of the homes PGP has marketed in the past include those of Olive Schreiner, Laurens van der Post, as well as other well known personalities. The town of Carnarvon is expected to benefit form the next Karoo boom – eclipsing Sutherland as the 'astronomy capital' of the Southern Hemisphere with the anticipated announcement of South Africa being awarded the sites for the international SKA (Square Kilometre Array – the world's most powerful radio telescope) project, thereby encompassing a large area of the Northern Cape's vast Karoo."

Issued by Gaye de Villiers

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