Now more buyers can taste the delights of Franschhoek properties

Many lyrical words have been written about the scenic beauty, cultural heritage and and tranquil lifestyle of Franschhoek, which lies at the foot of the Drakenstein mountains and is one of the oldest towns in SA.

However, says Bev Malan, owner of the local Sotheby’s International Realty franchise, while all of this is true, it has recently tended to obscure the excellent real estate opportunities currently available in the town and surrounding wine, lifestyle and golf estates.

“Because if its history and continental flavour, Franschhoek was for many years a great favourite of overseas investors, with the result that many developers here pitched their offerings to those who, buying in pounds and euros, could afford - and were prepared - to pay more than all but the wealthiest South African buyers.

“Consequently, although Franschhoek has an award-winning tourism programme that draws thousands of visitors a year and exposes them to all the charms of the town’s location and special ambience, most of them simply assume that, attractive as the idea might be, they could never afford to buy a home here.

“Fortunately, however, this just isn’t true anymore. The recession of 2008/ 09 and the ongoing financial crisis in Europe has just about dried up the stream of overseas buyers and prompted many local sellers to revise their price expectations, with the result that there are now many excellent value properties to be had here.”

For example, she says, her office has recently sold two homes on the beautiful La Petite Provence wine estate for substantially less than their original asking prices.

“The first, which sold for R3,5 million, was originally listed two years ago at R4,8 million, while the second, which sold for R2,6 million, was originally listed about six months ago for R3,8 million.

“The moral of this story is also that buyers should not be afraid to reach their own conclusions about the value of a property and make an offer that is perhaps considerably lower than the asking price – you never know when a seller might be ready to accept.”

Meanwhile, Malan says, it is worth noting that the average price of the freehold homes sold in Franschhoek in the first nine months of this year (including estate properties) was R2,7 million, compared to an average of R2,8 million for such properties last year.

As for sectional title properties such as the apartments available in the village itself, the statistics from leading property data provider Lightstone show that the average sold price so far this year is R1,05 million, compared to R2,44 million last year.

A total of more than 40 homes have been sold in Franschhoek since the start of the year and while only 2,5% of homeowners in the town were under 35 at the start of the year, the stats also show that 12% of recent buyers fell into this younger age group, with another 38% being in the 36- 49 age group.

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