|Property group Aida National Franchises has opened a new franchise in the Eastern Cape to serve the property needs of buyers and sellers in Aliwal North and surrounding areas. |
Franchise owner Willem du Randt, who spent 20 years as a building contractor, says he decided to "switch sides" and open an estate agency when he became aware of a gap in the local property market.
"We identified a need for a professional property service and were delighted to acquire an Aida franchise," he says. "Aida is a well-known and trusted brand and will enable us to reach a wider market through its established referral network."
The area, steeped in 1820 Settler history, is increasingly drawing tourists as well as city dwellers looking for a more rural lifestyle. "The market in especially Lady Grey is driven by tourism. It is a pretty little town set among mountains and offers a safe environment," he says.
Indeed the tourist potential of Lady Grey has seen property prices there outstripping prices in nearby Aliwal North, which is the commercial hub of the area.
Du Randt says basic three-bedroom family homes in Aliwal North now sell at between R650 000 and R850 000 while in Lady Grey you would be lucky to find a much smaller home needing renovation in this price category.
Many residential properties in the region date from an earlier era when the Cape Dutch architectural style was in vogue and older homes are typically large with Oregon pine floors and window frames. Many sandstone buildings are also in evidence.
Prices of development land in Lady Grey have also risen sharply thanks to demand driven by tourism with large stands of about 1000sqm now costing up to R500 000.
The new Aida Aliwal North office is open at 20 Levy Street and will initially field four estate agents.