Property group Chas Everitt International will officially open a new office in Oudtshoorn in April to serve property consumers in surrounding Karoo towns.
The franchise, which covers Oudtshoorn, Prince Albert, De Rust, Uniondale, Calitzdorp and Ladysmith, has been acquired by Pieter van Rensburg, who also co-owns the Chas Everitt franchise in George.
Van Rensburg, who will act as principal of the new franchise, says the office is already operational with a team of three agents active in the area. "We started researching the Karoo property market about two years ago and, with the increasing interest in lifestyle properties, judged that the time was now ripe to open a fully independent Karoo office," he says.
"The Karoo experience is increasingly drawing international and Gauteng investors who view the laid-back lifestyle, the vast open spaces and the exhilarating night sky as ideal for a breakaway destination. Retirees are also targeting the region.
"We will focus on the residential market, which includes lifestyle and weekend farms, as well as on bona fide commercial farmland."
The various towns in the franchise area offer a wide variety of properties, he says. "Each town has its own individual charm, but homes in the typical Karoo and Cape Dutch styles are very popular, as are historic sandstone homes.
"Typical small Karoo homes or larger homes in need of a touch of restoration sell at prices starting at around R500 000 while the average selling price is around R800 000. Luxury properties are selling from R1,6m while top homes in Prince Albert - popular among international buyers - can reach around R3m."
Van Rensburg adds that the franchise fully supports campaigns to retain the atmosphere and architecture that makes small Karoo towns so irresistible. "Some towns, such as Uniondale, have guidelines in place that govern restoration and alterations, which ensure that architectural integrity is maintained. In our view it is vital to retain the unique character of these towns, which, after all, is the very substance of their increasing popularity."