Residential property in Cape St Francis, a suburb of St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape and gateway to the Garden Route, is bucking the national trend and selling rapidly, says Richard Arderne, area principal for Pam Golding Properties.

"Properties here sell quickly - if reasonably priced - and this is one of the few areas that can still be considered a seller's market. Total market turnover for Cape St Francis doubled from R35 million in 2006 to over R80 million in 2007, and we are always seeking stock to cater for the demand," says Arderne, who recently purchased a home there for him and his family, as opposed to a home in St Francis Bay itself. He cites the better surfing for him and his three sons as one of the reasons for buying in Cape St Francis. That - and the extremely sound return on investment.

"Our newest agent, Louis Fox, after just three weeks of joining PGP in Cape St Francis sold a 700sqm plot for R900 000. This reflects a twenty-fold increase in value, from R45 000 12 years ago when the current seller, a Johannesburg family, purchased it in 1996. This is a typical example of the steep escalation in value achieved - particularly recently -in what we refer to as the 'Clifton' of the Eastern Cape," says Arderne.

He says front row properties have appreciated even further, facing as they do onto a world class beach. Recently numerous transactions have been concluded for front row properties - most of them vacant land or old cottages which have been or will be demolished. "Another interesting example of sound price appreciation is that of a front row cottage that sold for R370 000 in 1995 and again in 2005 for R3.25 million - only for the cottage to be demolished in 2007 and with a R5 million-plus, 500sqm house now under construction. This represents a total investment approaching R10 million for a holiday home."

The highest price paid for a home in Cape St Francis remains a R7.5 million luxury home sold by Pam Golding Properties last year (2007). Also noteworthy is a beachfront plot recently sold in the marketplace for R5.15 million. However, further back from the sea, it is still possible to purchase plots, and even cottages, for below R1 million and within easy walking distance from the beach.

Adds Arderne: "Adding to buyer appeal is the area's quiet, village ambience, and the pristine nature reserve surrounding Cape St Francis - ideal for long walks, and which prevents further development. Other attractions include the lighthouse and penguin rehabilitation centre, beach and rock fishing and diving. The coast to the west stretches nearly 100km to the Storms River Mouth, largely isolated and pristine, apart from the small settlements of Oyster Bay and Eerste Rivier. In fact this beautiful coastline can be walked all the way to the famous Otter Trail."
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