Kimberley readies for new campus

The new Northern Cape university located in Kimberley is expected to register its first students in 2014 and the city is scrambling to provide housing for the expected inflow of new residents.

Kobus van der Walt, local developer and co-owner of the Aida estate agency in the city, foresees great demand - and shortages - in the rental market when the campus opens. "Varsity residences are being planned but are unlikely to provide enough room to accommodate all students. But the rental market here is already under severe strain with prospective tenants take up whatever is available, irrespective of their preferred price bracket," he says.

"This strong demand has seen rentals escalate and landlords here are consequently earning much better returns than in other nearby centres such as Bloemfontein. Investors have been quick to spot this and are very active in the market.

"However, new development is urgently needed and we hope that development land will be made available in good time to prepare for the expected influx of students looking for accommodation."

Van der Walt says development land is currently in short supply, with private developers last in the queue. "Furthermore, electricity supply in the city is taking strain and the power infrastructure needs urgent attention. It is to be hoped that all interested parties in the city will work together assiduously to tackle this issue in the short time remaining and that existing capacity and expertise will be employed by the council."

An indication of the dire need for new units is the fact that a small 22-unit development in Cassandra that Van der Walt recently brought to market was sold out in record time, with the final eight units selling off-plan. The units sold at prices between R695 000 and R850 000.

Similarly, a planned development of 44 homes in Rhodesdene drew more than 100 enquiries as soon as the advertising boards went up, says Van der Walt. The sectional title project is expected to be completed in the next 18 months and will offer two-bedroom units at prices from R850 000 and three-bedroom units from just more than R1m.

The residential market is currently also very lively, he says. "As the capital of the Northern Cape, Kimberley houses many provincial departments and we are seeing an influx of buyers drawn from surrounding areas as they find employment in the city."

Two-bedroom townhouses are currently selling at prices from from R735 000 to R850 000, while townhouses with three bedrooms sell at around R950 000 to R1,1m.  Average family homes are priced at R1,1m to R1,5m while luxury homes in Carrington Road - home to professionals such as medical doctors, lawyers and judges - and Royaldene are selling at prices of up to R3,5m.

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