RE/MAX Suburb Trend Report – Knysna

Area history

A gem along the Western Cape’s Garden Route, Knysna was established during the eighteenth century and was originally the home to both wood cutters and stock farmers alike. Although the word Knysna is derived from the Khoi language, the exact meaning remains unknown, however it is said to symbolise water - an apt description considering both water and wood played an intricate part in the history and development of Knysna. Evidently, it was the demand for wood from the British Royal Navy in the early nineteenth century, which resulted in the town’s vast expansion.
The famous George Rex, who is largely considered as the town’s founder, arrived in Knysna in around 1797. Rex was involved in the Royal Navy and believed to be of Royal descent. It was through his encouragement that the Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy, Sir J. Benton, saw fit to ship wood from Knysna using its lagoon as a Port. Knysna’s port could hold up to 50 ships. This resulted in the first attempt to ship timber through the Knysna Heads to the Atlantic Ocean in 1817. However, due to the fact the passage was extremely hard to navigate and often treacherous, it was only many years later in 1831 that the first ship was able to make the voyage successfully, carrying a cargo of 140 tons of Stinkwood. The port was officially closed in 1954.

On the market for R12.6 million, this home is built above the fairway of the picturesque third hole at the Simola Golf and Country Estate, one of the most desirable estates in South Africa. The design of the house is sophisticated and elegant. The 500m2 home has four bedrooms all en-suite, a TV room, open plan kitchen, bar, dining room and lounge with top class fittings and finishes throughout. 
The Thesen family, who arrived in Knsyna from Norway, played a major role in further developing the town from 1869 onwards. Arndt Leonard Thesen and his son Charles founded and expanded the timber and shipping business. Charles also served as Knysna’s mayor for several terms.
Once the railway was developed in 1907, it was used to haul and deliver timber from the inland forests to the harbour of Knysna. Today Knysna is a bustling town and a popular retreat for holidaymakers.
Area property information

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that property in Knysna central consists of 43.80% sectional title units, 34.61% freestanding homes and 21.58% estates. He notes that the highest percentage of recent buyers in the area are those aged between 50 and 64 years old, who account for around 49.37% of all buyers in the area. This age group also represents the largest group of existing homeowners in Knysna, making up nearly half of the current property owners.

Goslett says that property prices in Knysna central have reacted quite interestingly over the past 10 years.  He notes that between 2004 and 2007 the property prices saw a gradual but steady increase; however in 2008 the price of a freestanding home skyrocketed to a record high of R1.837 million. In contrast the average price of a sectional title unit dropped from R866 000 to R735 000. In 2009, the average price of a freestanding dropped dramatically reaching R1.085 million, while the average price of a sectional title unit recovered to around R822 000. Goslett says that while freestanding property prices have seen a steady increase since 2009 with the current price around R1.264 million, sectional title unit prices have seen a decrease, with their average price now down to approximately R454 000.

According to Lightstone data, from 2004 to 2007 freestanding homes consistently outsold sectional title units, however in 2008 that changed with sectional title units outselling freestanding homes for the first time. Since 2008 sectional title units have continued to be the more popular choice, often outselling freestanding homes by two to one.

Property price trends

Demand for property

Goslett says that around 46.2% of all homes in area sold between August 2012 and July 2013 were those priced between R400 000 and R800 000. Properties that fell within the R800 000 to R1.5 million category represented 24.6% of the area’s sales, while properties below R400 000 represented 20%. He notes that properties sold during this period for between R1.5 million and R3 million represented 9.2% of the market.

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