RE/MAX Suburb Trend Report – Ladysmith, KZN

Area history

Located 230 km north-west of Durban and 365 km south of Johannesburg, situated in the Uthukela District of KwaZulu-Natal is the town of Ladysmith.

Settlement in the area came about when a number of Boers purchased the land from the Zulu King Mpande in 1847. The Boers originally called the area the Republic of Klip River as it was set on the banks of the Klip River.  In June 1850 the British seized the republic and proclaimed it a township, which they called Windsor. In October that same year the name was once again changed to Ladysmith after Juana Maria de los Dolores de Leon Smith, who was also known as Lady Smith. She was the Spanish wife of Sir Harry Smith, the British general governor of the Cape Colony and high commissioner in South Africa from 1847 to 1852.

During the Second Boer War, Ladysmith fell under siege from October 1999 to March 1900. British commander Lieutenant General Sir George White had made Ladysmith the centre of his operations to protect Natal against the Boers. The Boers saw attacking Ladysmith as a strategic move to overthrow the British Empire. About 12 000 British soldiers were faced with defending the town and after 118 days of siege approximately 3000 had died. After several attempts, British General Sir Redvers Buller was able to relieve the British forces at Ladysmith, breaking the siege and defeating the Boers.

Today Ladysmith serves as the gateway to central and northern Drakenberg and acts as a commercial hub for the large surrounding farming district in the region. Other important industries in the area include food processing, textile manufacture and tyre production.

Area property information

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that property in Ladysmith consists largely of freestanding homes (87.76%), while the remaining 12.24% is made up of sectional title units. He notes that market activity in Ladysmith is currently predominantly from the 36 to 49 year old age category who account for around 52.63% of recent buyers, 40.74% of recent sellers and 37.08% of the existing homeowners in the area.

Goslett says that between 2004 and 2006 the area saw its highest number of property sales transactions with around 63 properties selling each year on average. He notes that while most regions saw their highest sales volumes at the height of the boom in 2007, the number of property sales in Ladysmith dropped to around 26. Although property sales have subsequently improved, volumes have never quite reached the numbers seen pre-2007.

According to Lightstone data, from 2004 to 2009 property prices in Ladysmith saw excellent growth with the average price of a freestanding home hitting an all-time high of R811 000. However in 2010, the average price of a freestanding home dropped to around R616 000, while the average price of a sectional title unit continued to see growth. This same pattern of freestanding home prices falling and sectional title prices rising repeated itself again until 2012. In 2012, the average price of a freestanding home was around R548 000 and the average price of sectional title unit was only R44 000 less at R504 000. This year that has changed with freestanding home prices improving to approximately R667 000, while sectional title prices have fallen to around R329 000.

Property price trends

Demand for property

According to Goslett nearly 58% of homes sold in Ladysmith between August 2012 and July 2013 were those priced between R400 000 and R800 000.  Around 32.1% were priced below R400 000 and properties that fell within the R800 000 to R1.5 million category represented 7.1% of the area’s sales. He notes that properties that were sold during this period for between R1.5 million and R3 million represented only 3.6% of the market.

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