Somerset West has become the new playground of the rich and famous - both South African and foreign - and already boasts the largest concentration of millionaire residents in the country.
"It's not for nothing that Somerset West's number-plate designation is CFM - City for Millionaires," quips Dan van Zyl, principal of Aida's Somerset West office. "Wealthy people are snapping up properties in the Helderberg because properties are better priced here and the area offers a more attractive way of life than the traditional other Cape hot spots.
"The water is warmer, the beaches longer and the surrounding mountains and winelands make for a very beautiful landscape. In addition, the international airport is only 20 minutes' away, Cape Town CBD is 30 minutes'
away and the town also has some of SA 's top schools."
The value of property sales in Somerset West averages about R140-million a month, Van Zyl says, with the average home price being R900 000. "So, although prices have risen strongly, the area is still very well priced. And although the top end of the market has flattened in the past few months, the demand for homes costing up to R2,5-million is still very brisk."
Indeed, Somerset West, Gordon's Bay, Strand and the surrounding Winelands are, Van Zyl notes, some of the fastest growing areas in South Africa. "The developments are usually carefully planned and well-controlled, with strict aesthetic guidelines, and people are responding to that.
"Several new developments are currently underway, such as the latest 300-home project opposite the Lord Charles Hotel."
With the current oversupply of wine in the global market, the demand for wine farms in the area is flat, he says. However, there is still lively interest in smallholdings of between 10ha and 15ha that can be developed
into boutique cellars. Prices range between R300 000 and R500 000/ha for those with vineyards and labourers' cottages, while farms with homesteads are more expensive.
A recent trend is residential developments on farms with less arable soils. "Owners are developing between 15 and 20 townhouses on their farms. It is especially evident in the area between Somerset West and Stellenbosch and the developments offer buyers the opportunity of a lifestyle where you drive through the vineyards on your way home after a hard day in a city office."
Prices typically vary between R1,8-million and R2,3-million for three-bedroom units featuring two bathrooms and outdoor living areas.