The main attraction, says Osie van Niekerk of the RealNet Plotte & Plase franchise, is space. "Many buyers do not plan to turn their hand to farming but with space comes a certain freedom. It often enables buyers to move their businesses to their new properties and to work from home.
"In such cases owners enjoy right of use, which means rezoning is not required. However, building regulations are in force and any new building requires approval from the relevant municipal authority. It is a win-win situation since owners can turn their properties to account while controlled development means that the rights of neighbours are not infringed.
Agricultural enterprises do, however, offer additional income streams, as do storage enterprises. Some buyers also add value to their properties by establishing guest houses. This is particularly popular among buyers who want to establish a regular income stream for their retirement.
A second attraction is indeed the rural lifestyle. Van Niekerk, whose office serves property consumers on the eastern and southern boundaries of Pretoria, says the area offers spectacular views of open vistas, kloofs with dense bushveld vegetation and a rich variety of bird-life.
"A big bonus is the great community spirit among smallholders. Not only does this foster good relations among residents, but it also keeps crime low. There is an effective community patrol and residents are very aware of what is happening in their area. Regular informal get-togethers, such as 'street parties' enhance residents’ sense of belonging and serve as a valuable point of contact with neighbours," he says.
Prices for undeveloped acreage with a borehole on a gravel road start at around R600 000 while undeveloped units on tarred roads start at around R800 000. Holdings with homesteads on the outer boundaries start at around R1,5m while those closer to the urban edge start at R2,5m.
Buyers who hanker after the country life but who baulk at the upkeep of a large holding often opt to buy units in one of the several country estates in the area, notes Van Niekerk. Stands of half a hectare are priced from about R900 000 while prices of homes in these estates range from R2,5m to R4m.