Slow but steady recovery in George residential property now evident

The long-awaited and recently much-publicized recovery in the residential property market in George and its surrounding areas is taking place, says Mariaan Lubbe, co-franchisee with her husband Stephen of the Rawson Property Group’s George franchise. 

Prices, she says, are not rising yet, but they are ‘at last’ showing signs of firming up and the dramatic drops of yesteryear are a thing of the past.

“It is quite possible,” says Lubbe, “that no other area in South Africa was quite as severely affected by the 2008/2009 downturn in property values as George.  The reasons were, firstly, that there is relatively little heavy industry in this area – we rely largely on the tourist trade – and, secondly, about 30% of all middle and upper rank housing here is owned by overseas, Cape Town and upcountry buyers. Many of these were forced to offload their second properties in the downturn, even though in many cases it meant accepting a 30 to 40% drop in value.”

This year, says Lubbe, demand has been noticeably stronger and the number of website enquiries has more than doubled.

Particularly pleasing, she says, is the greater demand for the more expensive homes, something not seen for a very long time in this area.

In the last two weeks, she says, her team has sold a four bedroom home in Camphersdrift for R3,5 million and a four bedroom home in Heatherlands for R1,9 million. Further sales in the R2 million plus category are now in the pipeline.

Houses of this value, says Lubbe, could quite easily sit on the market for 18 to 24 months last year and in some cases simply not sell at all. Now it looks as if, if correctly priced, they will find buyers within six to nine months.

The market for less expensive George homes (those in the R600,000 to R1,2 million bracket) has, she says, been strong for at least a year now and in this price category the Rawson team is selling some five to eight homes per month.

At the lower price levels, adds Lubbe, some ‘incredibly good’ buys are possible, particularly if the home has been repossessed by one of the banks. The Rawson Property Group’s franchise in George can have as many as four to six of these homes on their books at any one time.

One buyer, a Pretoria client, says Lubbe, bought two such repossessed homes in Denneoord for R250,000 each, sold one a few weeks later for R490,000 and, after extensively renovating the other, has put it up for sale at R900,000, which, she says, in view of how well the improvements have been done, is a fair price. This home, she thinks, will be sold within one month.

Much of the success of this franchise, says Lubbe, is due to their being able to raise their ‘hit rate’ on bond applications to above 90% - and this figure is likely to be maintained in the future because co-franchisee Stephen Lubbe has now completed training as a Rawson Finance consultant and can serve clients as far afield as Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Oudtshoorn.

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