Future looks bright for Northern Cape

Occupying the largest land mass of any province in South Africa, the sparsely populated Northern Cape is receiving increasing attention, with major new development projects offering the promise of economic stimulus, with spin-offs anticipated for the residential property market.

Relax while looking over a landscaped garden and your own vineyards. Situated in one of the best areas, this three bedroom two bathroom home with a vineyard is one of the best properties for sale in Upington. Priced at R6.5 million through Pam Golding Properties, it includes a study as well as indoor pool, open plan kitchen with living room and dining room.

Vallerie-Ann Spathelf, Pam Golding Properties area principal in Springbok in the Namaqualand region is upbeat regarding the future:  “This is definitely going to be the Northern Cape’s time to shine, with a number of major developments planned for the future which will have a positive economic impact on our area, with ensuing benefits for the property market.

Firstly, in excess of 500 mining houses are to be built approximately 100km from Springbok (and 60km from Pofadder) to cater for a new mine – Gamsberg Zinc Mine, which is planned for in the area.  And, as soon as the new mine enters the building and construction phase, we anticipate a demand in Springbok for rental properties for contract workers, as this area has good schools and quality homes and is therefore a desirable place to live.”

She says in addition, major development is planned for Port Nolloth, a small seaport about 140km northwest of Springbok and which now forms part of the Northern Cape Corridor. This will see an export harbor developed as well as a railway line which will run from Springbok through to Port Nolloth. Five solar development contracts are in the late stage of planning, while two retail centres near Bergsig and Simonsig are in planning phases with construction soon to begin.  The first of these is a building supply store with satellite shops and a wing for government, including the new Magistrate’s Court.  The second, a shopping mall, will be constructed towards the end of 2014.

Situated in Springbok in the Northern Cape, this three bedroom, two bathroom, double-storey house is situated close to schools and has quality finishes throughout. It is priced at R1.265 million through Pam Golding Properties.

Says Spathelf: “Sedibeng Water is currently busy with a seven year project to upgrade our water pipeline from the Orange River to cater for water demand for the next 30 years.  Currently there is an aqua culture development in progress at Kleinzee.  Furthermore, Springbok is now a sub-region for the Government sector in the Northern Cape, resulting in a new roster of in- and outgoing flights between Kimberley and Springbok.  All this development augurs well for the Springbok area as the increased demand for residential property will translate into increased activity in the market.”

While residential property in Springbok starts from an entry level price below R400 000 for vacant plots or old mining houses, Pam Golding Properties’ (PGP) buyer market is mainly in the price range between R800 000 and R1 million for the average three or four bedroom house, with upmarket houses priced from R1.2 million to R1.5 million. Currently the bulk of PGP sales are in Springbok’s major suburbs of Doornpoort and Simonsig. For family home buyers, there are several schools in Springbok, which also attract learners from the neighbouring, former mining towns of Okiep, Nababeep and Carolusberg.  A new R50 million school is also in the pipeline for Matjieskloof, an underprivileged neighbourhood in the Springbok area.

Situated in Hanover in the Karoo, in the Northern Cape, this charming historic home is spacious, with three large bedrooms, a study which can be used as a fourth bedroom, bathroom with shower and bath and a delightful winter sun-room. It includes outbuildings that can be converted into flatlets and a garage with space for two vehicles. This appealing property is priced at R495 000 through Pam Golding Properties.

Commenting further on the demand for homes in the area, Spathelf anticipates the new mining project will impact positively not only on homes to rent, but possibly also homes for purchase. “This is dependent on the lifespan of the base metal (zinc, copper and lead) mine being prolonged for a further 10 to 15 years. At present average homes are let from R5500 to R8000 per month, with mine workers receiving a subsidized housing and travel allowance. The development of the mine has the potential to increase the demand for rentals by about 30-40 percent.”

In the Upington area of the Kalahari region, Filon Smit, area principal for Pam Golding Properties, says there is a great deal of activity in the residential property market. “The economy of the town has improved considerably due to a variety of factors. The build of the solar power projects outside Upington - where power is fed into the Eskom grid, has seen a major influx of contract workers, mostly from various Spanish based companies which won the tender for this five to 10 year project - with a maintenance programme to follow thereafter.

Properties in Richmond in the Karoo, Northern Cape are hard to come by. Priced at R230 000 through Pam Golding Properties, this historic home situated on two small erfs on the Ongers River is available for occupation in 2015. In good condition, the house has all its original fittings such as beautiful floors and windows, as well as some additions such as a family room and garage. It includes two bedrooms, bathroom, large lounge/dining room with fireplace and a large Karoo kitchen leading onto the back garden which receives morning sun from the east.

“As a result there are now thousands of Spanish, German and other contract workers from overseas living in Upington. While there was already a strong demand for rental homes among local residents, various overseas corporate companies involved in the above project have significantly increased the demand for rentals. These are mainly in the price range from R8000 per month up to around R14 000 and R15 000 per month, with a few luxury rentals at the top end in the region of R25 000 per month at senior level, namely engineers. While this demand is mainly for rentals, there have also been a few sales concluded to cater for this new market as well as various developments like Bella Rosa with more than 300 houses, and Augrabiespark, which is aimed mainly at the entry level market as well as first time home owners, with more than 250 houses.

“However it must be emphasized that the boost for the local economy is not only due to this project – farming, tourism (guesthouse establishments), the mines and new shopping mall developments all contribute to the improved economic status of the town and the potential for future economic development and success.

“In terms of the general residential market, we are seeing numerous investment buyers active in the marketplace. Generally we recommend they look to acquire properties priced at R2 million and below as this sector is achieving sound return on investment of between eight and 12 percent per annum. However, the higher end market is also very active, which is indicative of sustained growth in all of the sectors and of a healthy economic climate,” says Smit.

Homes in Upington range in price from around R549 000 to R6.5 million at the top end. The average price for a three bedroom family home in a good area is between R1 .6 million and R2 million, and PGP reports the market is very active up to around R2.5 million or even R3 million. “Those in senior executive positions find a larger selection from around R3.5 million for a well maintained three bedroom house with large entertainment areas to R6.5 million which includes your own 4ha patch of vineyard, indoor swimming pool, three bedrooms, study, large entertainment area and an open plan kitchen.”

Adds Smit: “This area is also known as the land of contrasts, which is a key tourism attraction in itself. As the Orange River runs past Upington, you literally see vineyards on one side of the road and semi-desert with Kalahari farms on the other. The river provides ample opportunity for water activities such as canoeing and swimming, while there are game viewing and bushveld attractions in Kgalagadi National Park and Augrabies National Park. For 4x4 enthusiasts there are various routes in the area, while those preferring a more relaxing pastime can unwind with tastings at Bezalel Wine and Brandy Estate and Orange River Wine Cellars.”

Hospitality establishments on the market through PGP Upington include several guesthouses priced from R4.5 million for a riverfront home with seven bedrooms to R15 million - also for a riverfront property, with 12 rooms en suite, swimming area and dining room and with an average rate per night between R750 and R1000. Lodges available to purchase range up to R50 million for a 20ha property with 38 chalets, 19 stands for caravans and tents, restaurant, conference area and curio shop.

Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties manager in the Karoo region, agrees that prospects for the Northern Cape’s Karoo regions look promising, particularly from a lifestyle perspective: “The vast expanse of the Northern Cape is split up into the three well known botanical or ecological regions which are the Karoo, Kalahari and Namaqualand. What sets the Karoo apart from the other regions of the Northern Cape is that the rural Karoo landscape is dotted with small towns and villages which include some of the most ornate historical buildings. Being more accessible and centrally located, these appealing small towns are stimulating increasing interest, which is providing a boost to the local economies. This resurgence of interest in many, if not most Northern Cape towns, has spinoffs in regard to restoration work on properties as well as the new ideas and businesses new entrants to the Karoo bring.

“The Northern Cape Karoo area offers some of the best value for money investments in historic homes. Many of the towns are not yet fully ‘discovered’ and offer appealing opportunities for investors to get in early. It must be noted that very often some of these towns only have a few properties that are on the market. In Richmond, for example all properties that have been on the market in 2014 have sold and at present there is only one house on the market in the town. The nostalgia of a neat remote Karoo town with children playing in the earth streets and walking out into the open veld where there is peace and security is hard to beat, particularly when it will cost you less than R400 000 for a historic Karoo character home. This region is the ideal destination for South Africans to invest in and secure an almost forgotten way of life,” says Rubidge.

In other classic Karoo towns such as Phillipstown, Loxton, Strydenburg, Carnarvon, Victoria West, Hanover and Kenhardt there are very affordable, attractive homes available. Rubidge says as far as agricultural properties are concerned there is substantial interest in the Kalahari region for cattle and game farms, in irrigation farms on the Orange River irrigation scheme and the Vaal Harts irrigation scheme, and perennial interest in Karoo sheep farms.

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