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Home prices keep rising in buzzing Bethlehem

Bethlehem in the Eastern Free State may offer a scenic and peaceful lifestyle, but there is nothing quiet about the local property market at the moment.
 
Upward pressure on housing stock has seen prices rise between 11 and 20% per year for the past four years - and the trend is expected to continue because of infrastructure constraints on further development, says Marna Erasmus of the local RealNet franchise.
 
"Bethlehem is the largest town in the Eastern Free State and serves as the commercial and medical hub of the region. It also offers job opportunities and good schools and thus attracts many buyers relocating from surrounding towns."
 
Farmers from outlying areas are also active in the market, she says. “They typically buy homes in town where their families can stay during the week so the children can more easily attend school and take part in all the extramural and sporting activities.”


13 Bedroom Small Holding for sale in Bethlehem
 
The fast gains in home prices have also caught the attention of investors in surrounding areas and they now represent a strong component of buyers, says Erasmus. Investors quickly find tenants since the rental market is buoyant.
 
As the only town in the region with a private clinic, she says, Bethlehem is also an attractive destination for retirees, who target homes at prices between R900 000 and R1,5m in the local retirement village, which also offers frail care.
 
The safe and peaceful lifestyle in beautiful surroundings is also increasingly attracting buyers from Gauteng who yearn for a life in the “slow lane”. Erasmus says nearly 30% of current buyers are from Gauteng and that they are bringing new vigour to the local commercial sector by starting small businesses or other enterprises.
 
"At the same time Bethlehem and surrounds has a lot to offer. The town is just 27km away from Clarens, the art centre and darling of the Eastern Free State's fly-fishing set, and our town enjoys the same spectacular views of the famous sandstone formations while, on a clear day, the Maluti mountains are etched on the horizon.
 
"For tourists, Bethlehem also offers good trout and bass fishing opportunities, hiking trails and comfortable accommodation in one of the many local guest houses," she says.
 
"And the town still honours the old tradition of closing down between one and two o' clock in the afternoons, when residents retire to their homes for a home-cooked lunch. It's a good indication of the leisurely pace of life here, as is the fact that residents safely go for evening strolls while children play or ride their bikes in the town's tree-lined streets."
 
Current prices for quality homes in Bethlehem start at around R600 000 for two-bedroom apartments in the CBD and R1,2m to R1,4m for sectional title units with three bedrooms and double facilities in security complexes.
 
Top properties in the luxury market reach prices of up to R4m, for which buyers can expect a Tuscan home on the banks of the Loch Athlone dam offering five bedrooms and features such as underfloor heating, an interior swimming pool and sauna.


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