Tourism growth and historic homes drive Wellington property market

The Boland town of Wellington is experiencing steady growth in tourism appeal – and the change in its profile is having a positive impact on the local property market, says Pam Golding Properties (PGP).  

The town may once have played second fiddle to its neighbour, Paarl, but thanks to significant investment by tourism authorities and the local municipality, it is now developing as a popular destination all on its own.

The result, says PGP’s MD for the Boland and Overberg regions, Annien Borg, is an upturn in residential sales that seems to be climbing steadily as the year progresses. “For the year to date (2012) our agents in Wellington have already sold nearly 30 residential properties to a total value of over R40 million,” she says.  “That’s almost the same number of homes that they sold in the entire year of 2010, and appears to be well on track to exceed their figures for 2011.”

Borg says the Wellington area is now peppered with award-winning wine farms, scenic wedding venues, fine restaurants and challenging mountain-bike trails, all of which are drawing a steady stream of visitors, particularly over weekends and holidays.  High quality educational facilities are also attracting younger families to settle permanently in the area, while a substantial student population attends the local teacher’s training college and CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) campus.  The town’s proximity to Cape Town International Airport, just 45 minutes’ drive away, is also making it a popular choice for businesspeople who want to settle their families in a safe and scenic environment, while still being able to commute with ease.

PGP’s area manager Surina du Toit says a market segment enjoying steady growth is that comprising creative individuals and DIY enthusiasts, who are buying up some of the town’s older properties and giving them a new lease on life.  “Wellington was proclaimed as a town in 1840,” she says, “so we have a number of historic homes dating back to the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century.  Some of these have already been substantially refurbished and re-sold, particularly for use in the hospitality industry. With their large grounds and multiple rooms, they also make excellent homes for families.”

One such property currently on the market is a home in Malan Street - a central location not far from the main thoroughfare of Church Street.  Built in the 1940’s, the home was originally purchased for the princely sum of £40.  Its current owners bought the property in 2002, and spent five years undertaking a complete restoration of the property.  The 692sqm property is now on the market exclusively through PGP, priced at R2.75 million.

Du Toit says the restoration showed great respect for the home’s original features, while at the same time converting it into a home ideal for modern living.  “Walls were removed to open up the living areas,” she says, “while an en suite bathroom was added to the main bedroom.  The existing kitchen, dining room and second bathroom were fully renovated, and the outdoor staff quarters were converted into an office suite, laundry room and undercover parking.  Original features such as wooden floors and inner doors were maintained and restored, as well as the original plaster ceilings in some rooms, and the hand-made iron burglar bars and railings.  In addition, the owners sought out new design pieces to complement the home, such as a series of chandeliers which they purchased during their overseas travels.  The result is a magnificent blend of olden day charm and modern convenience.”

Other modern touches added to the property included “greening” its interior systems. Strategic areas of the house now have an infra-red lighting system imported from the USA, which switches on automatically when sensing movement in the room, and switches off when the area is unoccupied.  To conserve water, the garden has a central irrigation system linked to a rainwater storage system.  Security is also hi-tech, including four motion-sensitive security cameras which monitor the home on a 24-hour basis, and which are linked to the television system for ease of monitoring.  The property has a remote-controlled alarm system which can lock down the house at the touch of a button, in the event of an emergency.

The home now offers three bedrooms, a gourmet open-plan kitchen with Miele and Siemens appliances, a double garage, air-conditioning in all rooms, and a private swimming pool.  The sheltered back verandah has both gas and wood built-in braai’s, a built-in gas patio heater, and Hertex weather-resistant curtains, allowing for all-year-round entertaining.

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