Expats investing in prime Garden Route properties

Smallholdings and large stands in prime locations on the Garden Route are attracting new interest among discerning buyers.
SA expats in Australia and contractors currently working on the African continent and in the Middle East are investing in lifestyle properties, particularly smallholdings, on the stretch of coastline between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, says Renate du Rand, owner of the RealNet real estate franchise in Knysna.
"The strong Australian currency now allows expats - who plan to eventually return to SA - to invest in prime local properties and interest along the Garden Route has picked up considerably since the second quarter of this year. We are also receiving increased enquiries from South Africans working on contract in various African and Middle Eastern countries," she says.
Interest among buyers from South Africa's interior who are looking for lifestyle and investment properties has also increased in the past three months, she adds.
Prices of smallholdings in this area range between R1,5m and R3,5m for units of between 2,5ha and 17ha. And those with a main dwelling, a separate cottage, an established garden and river frontage or natural dams are in particular demand.
At the same time, says Du Rand, there is sustained demand for luxury properties at the high end of the market. Properties with price tags of between R7m and R20m are still attracting offers.
Large stands in prime positions are selling at substantial prices.The franchise has recently obtained a sole mandate for an 8565sqm stand on Plett's Robberg Beach - widely regarded as one of the world's prime coastal locations - and Du Rand says several SA buyers have already made enquiries. The property, which has a 40m beachfront, is on the market for R38,5m.
She says privacy and prestige are two reasons why vacant stands in exclusive areas attract high-profile buyers who want to commission designer homes. “For example, two adjacent plots on Robberg Beach were sold for R25m and R27m respectively to an SA buyer who plans to leave the one stand vacant.
Meanwhile, demand for more modest properties on the Garden Route is also healthy. Starter two-bedroom units in complexes are selling well at prices starting at around R585 000, while family homes in the R1m to R2m range are in strong demand.

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