Rich heritage in the heart of Kwazulu-Natal

What makes St Lucia a popular tourist destination and hot investment node is that fact that it is the only town in the world that is situated in a World Heritage Site, the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park.

St Lucia offers buyers and visitors a unique experience that they won’t find anywhere else on the planet, says Lourens de Lange, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Heritage, whose office services St Lucia and surrounding areas Monzi, Mtubatuba and Hluhluwe.

“There are approximately 400 stands and St Lucia cannot get any bigger, which will make it very exclusive for property owners in the near future. St Lucia has been a well kept secret for some time, but more and more people are starting to visit and tourism is beginning to grow at a rapid rate. The town is surrounded by the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, which is 280km long and makes up 8% of the South African coastline. There are no lion in the park, however, it hosts the other Big 4. There is also whale watching and Leatherback turtles in season, along with South Africa’s biggest lake system featuring the 65km Lake St Lucia with over 1400 crocodiles and 800 hippos,” says de Lange.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park must be the only place on the globe where the world’s oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world’s biggest mammal (the whale).”

According to de Lange, when buyers purchase property in St Lucia they are buying into the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park and everything it has to offer. “With an R500 per year Golden Rhino residents can go in to iSimangaliso Wetlands Park everyday for R5 per person. Where else in South Africa can one buy property and get a Big 4 game reserve, ocean and a lake all together. Properties can be changed or renovated but the area can’t,” says de Lange.

He notes that after every long weekend and school holiday there is generally an influx of buyers to the area that want to move out of the city. Many investors are also looking to purchase holiday homes and flats in the area as it is only six hours from Pretoria and two and a half hours from Durban. De Lange says: “Many properties have also been sold to foreign buyers from Netherlands, Belgium and England with some having started B&B’s. A six-bedroom guest house was sold two years ago for R6,2 million, which is the highest paid for a B&B in the area. St Lucia is predominantly a holiday destination with quite a lot of B&B’s and lodges that have emerged over the last five years. It is changing from a fisherman’s town to world class holiday destination.”  

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that many buyers often purchase holiday property that offers something completely different to what they are used to. St Lucia has a range of different options available for those looking for a change in lifestyle.

De Lange says that property sales have been quiet over last two to three years. Along with the approximate 400 stands, St Lucia has around 200 sectional title units. “We use to sell around 24 properties a year, but over the last two years that has dropped to around ten. Between 2005 and 2010 property prices doubled, however they have stabilised and stayed the same from 2010 to 2012. Recently our office sold a few properties where the price was dropped by 20%. Needless to say, they sold almost immediately,” says de Lange.

Prices for an entry level one-bedroom flat in St Lucia will cost in the region of R500 000, a two-bedroom will sell for around R645 000 and a three-bedroom in will be priced in the region of R970 000, all of which have furniture included. A sectional title unit in the amazing Hluhluwe development, which is situated on a 170ha private game reserve, will cost R540 000.

A free-standing entry level home in St Lucia with three bedrooms and a one-bedroom granny flat will cost approximately R1,26 million, depending on its condition. A mid-level, four-bedroom home with a one-bedroom flat and a swimming pool will cost around R2,65 million, and a top-end four-bedroom home in a prime location bordering the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, with quality finishes throughout will cost in the region of R4,6 million. A private 250ha game reserve in Hluhluwe will be priced around the R6,48 million mark.

Commenting on the future of the property market in St Lucia, de Lange says: “We know the market in St Lucia is going to take off in the near future. While buyers can purchase relatively cheap houses and flats in need of renovation at the moment, once they are all gone it is not going to be cheap to buy into St Lucia. Buyers that want to purchase good value for money property should do so now,” de Lange concludes.

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