Stilfontein no ghost town

The closure of the last shaft of the Buffelsfontein mine in Stilfontein is unlikely to sink the charming mining town's thriving property market.
So says Jaco Faurie, co-owner of the local RealNet franchise, who is upbeat despite the predictions of various “prophets of doom”.

Quality three-bedroom family homes with established gardens cost much less in Stilfontein than in nearby Klerksdorp or Potchefstroom and are perfect for young couples who want to get on to the property ladder, according to RealNet.
"Many people believe that Stilfontein is destined to become a ghost town, but the figures tell a different story," he says. "Two years ago, every street in Stilfontein had vacant houses and buyers could pick and choose among distressed properties. Today stock levels are low, most properties in the bank-assisted selling programmes have been taken up and auctions - a strong market feature two years ago  - are now few and far between. What is more, those properties that do go on auction attract keen bidding now and fetch considerably higher prices than just a few months ago."
Prices of entry-level properties in the town have also increased by a wide margin since the second quarter of the year, he adds. “Family homes that were selling for R300 000 to R350 000 four months ago are now valued at closer to R450 000 - and finding ready buyers.”
Faurie says that although closure of the Buffelsfontein mine has alarmed many, they are missing the fact that Stilfontein's property market has diversified greatly in the past decade and is no longer solely dependent on the mining industry.
"Extremely good value, excellent infrastructure and a pleasant lifestyle initially brought droves of retirees to Stilfontein, and a second wave of younger buyers has since discovered the same benefits.
“Stilfontein is a paradise for young first-time buyers who work in nearby Potchefstroom or Klerksdorp. Prices of comparable property here are much lower than in the bigger towns and buyers find it much easier to qualify for 100% home loans since banks find excellent underlying value," he says.
Indeed, State employees, policemen and army officers working in Potchefstroom currently make up a fair percentage of Stilfontein commuters.
A second reason for Faurie's optimism about the Stilfontein housing market is the current construction of a large regional shopping mall on the road to Klerksdorp. "Developers do their homework and are unlikely to erect a shopping facility costing some R1bn next to a ghost town. Indeed, we think demand for homes in Stilfontein is likely to escalate when the mall opens towards the end of next year."
Investors are also showing confidence and are becoming more active in the market. Faurie says they typically target properties in the lower price ranges and either let them or renovate and resell them. Buyers who buy family homes also tend to renovate their properties - Faurie estimates about 50% of buyers do so - and it is not only a firm vote of confidence in the local market, but is also leading to growth in values, he says.
Local prices for sturdy three-bedroom family homes with a bathroom on spacious stands of around 1000sqm now start at around R450 000 (see picture). There is strong demand for homes in the R600 000 to R700 000 price range but little stock. Prices of more upmarket homes have grown from around R700 000 a few months ago to levels of around R850 000, while top properties have recently breached the R1m mark.

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