Grahamstown High Court decision a boon for local property

Homeowners and property investors in Grahamstown have widely welcomed the recent official decision that the seat of the Eastern Cape High Court will remain in the town.

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A strong legal fraternity, including Lower and High Court officials, attorneys in private practice and an office of the Legal Aid Board, represents a major component of the local real estate market, according to Aidan Sparrow, co-owner of the local RealNet franchise, and many property owners were concerned that moving the High Court would result in a sudden flood of properties for sale that would drive values down.
"The official announcement that the seat of the Court will remain in Grahamstown instead of moving to Bhishohas thus been enthusiastically welcomed by these owners as well as many others in the wider community that have been campaigning for this decision.”
Traditionally, Grahamstown has enjoyed a resilient property market thanks to educational institutions such as Rhodes University and several top schools, various local institutes and the nearby army base, in addition to the strong legal fraternity.
And now prices are expected to maintain a steady upward curve, says Sparrow, especially as there is very little new development going on in either the sectional title or freehold sectors. "It is still much cheaper to buy existing homes than to build from scratch," he says.
The existing sectional title market, mainly geared to student accommodation, usually picks up momentum in the last quarter of the year when parents whose children complete their studies start marketing their units. However, Sparrow says that enquiries for available units are starting to trickle in much earlier than usual and he expects a long waiting list by the time current owners start to market their units.
Prices for sectional titles suitable for students currently start at around R800 000. Units at this price level are usually compact 60sqm flats with two bedrooms in secure estates. Larger sectional titles of around 120sqm with three bedrooms and a garage sell at around R1,2m.
Family buyers currently prefer older homes outside security estates. "Their preference is mainly value-driven since older properties typically offer spacious rooms and large gardens at prices from about R1,15m in the lower ranges to about R1,7m for homes in desirable areas. Many older properties offer period homes that reflect the town's rich history, which allows a genteel, yet comfortable, lifestyle," Sparrow says.

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