Record house price achieved by PGP
Lifestyle or country getaway farms are in demand in the flourishing country town of Riversdale, situated on the N2 between Swellendam and Mossel Bay and about 300km from Cape Town.
"Each month during 2009 we sold an average of one to two farms situated in the Riversdale area to buyers from around South Africa," says Jennifer Seggie, area principal for Pam Golding Properties (PGP), which also covers the nearby areas of Heidelberg, Witsand, Breede River area, Barrydale, Albertinia and a charming hamlet called Vermaaklikheid.
And during a six-week period alone PGP sold 11 properties in Riversdale, comprising both houses and farms and in the price range between R317 000 and R3.95 million. In addition, the company achieved the highest price ever paid for a residential property in Riversdale – a three bedroom home with separate cottage on a 9 000sqm erf sold for R2.1 million. The previous record price for a home in the town was R1.9 million.
"Since 2008 we have experienced ongoing interest in lifestyle farms – with an influx of clients flying in from Gauteng, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal and travelling from the Western Cape, to view farms they had seen on our website or in print advertising. Previously this area, which we refer to as the 'Gateway to the Garden Route', had been somewhat of a Cinderella area, being about two-and-a-half to three hours from Cape Town and one-and-a-half to two hours from George. However, purchasers are discovering that prices here are much lower than in areas closer to these cities and feel that the slightly longer drive is well worth the effort. Lifestyle farms sell from R5 000 to R7 000 per hectare with no buildings and slightly more if buildings are included. Those with sea or navigable river frontage sell for more but are still priced below similar properties in other areas," says Seggie.
Lifestyle farms range in size from 40-400ha and are often situated close to or in the Langeberg mountains with rivers, streams and even waterfalls as added attractions. Seggie says: “Buyers don't necessarily wish to farm, they just want to escape the stresses of city life and allow their children to experience the great outdoors and natural wonders, with freedom to wander unhindered and without the worry of crime.
"Young families seek to leave the rat race behind, settling out here and conducting their work via computer. Their aim is also to become self-sufficient by growing their own vegetables and so on, while others are looking at conserving our fragile mountain fynbos heritage. In this regard two Americans bought a 900ha tract of mountain land and have established a nature reserve where people from all over the world come to study the endangered flora and fauna."
Currently PGP is marketing a 150ha seafront farm for R5.325 million and an exceptional 30ha 'gentleman's retreat' or country estate well positioned on the Goukou River near Stilbaai – in the heart of excellent 'horse country', where properties are highly sought after and seldom become available. Priced at R9.95 million this property is suitable for the cultivation of olives and red grape varietals.
Seggie says in addition to these lifestyle or weekend getaway farms, they also find buyers for commercial farms are attracted to this secure area with no land claims. The municipalities are relatively well run and seem to be keeping up with the demand for low-cost housing. Commercial farm sales by PGP include two dairy farms – each going concerns - one sold for the full asking price of R9.9 million, and another sold for R6.6 million. Currently a dairy farm with 100 cows, 24ha under irrigation, good infrastructure and in a scenic mountain setting is on the market at R3.95 million; a 48ha farm in the same valley with plenty of water and suitable for approximately 300 sheep, or olives, is on the market for R2.3 million; and a well priced grain/sheep farm comprising 600ha, including 700 sheep and all implements, is available for purchase at R4.975 million.
"Historically this area, stretching from the Langeberg Mountains to the sea, has been a water rich area with an incredible network of canals bringing water from the mountains and dams to the farms below. The rainfall close to the mountains is 800-1000mm a year, decreasing closer to the sea to around 350mm a year. The drier side has grain (wheat, oats, barley), ostrich and sheep farms, selling between R10 000-R15 000 per hectare of arable land, whereas those with more water (irrigation) can fetch from R30 000-R80 000 per hectare of irrigated land.
"It's interesting to note that more people are moving here from the cities with new farming ideas and looking at olives, pomegranates, nut trees and different types of stock such as buffalos, emus and Nguni cattle, as well as more sustainable eg organic forms of agriculture," she says.
Commenting on the residential property market Seggie says the bulk of buyers are those relocating from other areas, again due to the safe environment, friendly community, good schools and affordable property prices. With an entry level house price of R500 000-R600 000 for a two to three bedroom home, the average house price is in the region of R850 000 for a three bedroom home while at the top end of the market a three to four bedroom house will sell for around R1.3 million–R1.4 million. "Those priced above this are not selling at the moment. However we do have available for purchase properties on large plots with separate cottages which are good value at R2 million and upwards."
Adding further appeal for home buyers are the numerous leisure activities on offer in the area with mountain trails just 10km away and the ocean 40km. There is also a nature reserve just north of the town and a large recreational dam about 15km to the north-west.
Issued by Gaye de Villiers

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