Oudtshoorn property - demand from out of town buyers

This may come as a surprise to many, but, according to Isidore Langenhoven, the Rawson Property Group’s franchisee for Oudtshoorn (which has seen its monthly sales double in 2013), over 60% of today’s home buyers in Oudtshoorn are not locals but from the north, particularly Gauteng, or from the Southern Cape coastal towns.

They are, says Langenhoven, attracted to Oudtshoorn because of three main factors: the low crime rate, the warm and dry climate (usually with less than 350 mm of rainfall each winter, although this year was far wetter than usual) and, most importantly, the very marked affordability of the housing in this attractive town, put on the map in the 1920s and 1930s by the ostrich feather boom and at about the same time, in literary circles, by the poignant Little Karoo stories of Pauline Smith.

4 Bedroom House for sale in West Bank, Oudtshoorn

Although, on his stock list, he can offer homes up to R3 million or more, says Langenhoven, the majority of today’s middle class buyers are targeting homes in the R600,000 to R900,000 bracket and in this bracket, he says, any correctly priced home will usually sell within one month.

“A buyer from out of town, particularly from Gauteng or such towns as Knysna and George,” says Langenhoven, “can sell where he currently lives and then buy the same size and quality of home here for roughly half what he would receive for the home he has just sold.”

What is more, says Langenhoven, although Oudshoorn is recognised as being a bastion of the Afrikaner culture and tradition, English speaking South Africans enjoy living here and fit into Oudtshoorn very well.

Some 20 to 30% of this franchise’s sales are not, however, in the middle class areas but in the previously disadvantaged districts and here, says Langenhoven, homes can be had for as little as R180,000, the majority of sales being between R450,000 and R500,000. Here again, he says, the value for money is quite exceptional compared to similar low cost homes elsewhere.

A very big plus factor in Oudtshoorn’s favour at the moment, says Langenhoven, is that local banks are now taking a far more lenient view of applicants’ financial positions and awarding almost double the number of mortgages they awarded in 2012. This, he says, has been a huge blessing to the residential sector, but, regrettably, a surprisingly high percentage (over 80%) of applicants in this area are found to have credit blemishes or to be over-indebted.

“Pre-qualification counselling can help a great deal, but I have a strong feeling that people have to learn to cut back on the less important spending. Many reviews of applicants’ financial positions reveal that they are heavily indebted on non-essential items, particularly cars and this, in my view, is totally contrary to South African traditions. As the National Manager of Rawson Finance, Mike van Alphen, has said, until only 30 years ago we were known as a country which did not encourage spending and was prepared to live fairy austerely.”

From a buyer’s viewpoint, says Langenhoven, the good news is that the current low prices will probably be here for some time to come. Although there have been steady price rises in 2013, they are still below 5% and in the upper brackets no significant price rises have been seen at all.

“The surplus stock will ensure that prices remain reasonable, at least for the coming year. We have over 100 homes for sale and until this figure is reduced, it is unlikely that sellers will be able to increase their prices radically, except possibly in the R600,000 plus bracket mentioned earlier.”

Oudtshoorn’s affordable prices make it ideally suited to today’s cash short, downscaler or to younger people with limited means looking for a pleasant semi-rural Little Karoo lifestyle – and, it should be noted, says Langenhoven, that once people have lived in Oudtshoorn a few months, they almost invariably become devotees of the town and are always very reluctant to move elsewhere.

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