Chas Everitt International opens in booming Upington

Both house prices and rentals in the Northern Cape town of Upington have risen steeply in the past year thanks to the thriving local economy and a lack of new development to meet increasing demand.

That’s the word from Jan Becker, owner of the new Chas Everitt International Kalahari franchise, which is based in Upington and the group’s first in the region.

“The lack of new development is due to a shortage of serviced land,” he says, “and the short supply of homes for sale means that even entry-level homes are now selling for more than R1m in some cases. This is of course not affordable for most local buyers and has boosted the demand for rental properties, which are now also in short supply.

“There are also very few ‘distressed’ sellers in Upington, and there have only been three sales in execution in the past year.”

Meanwhile, the town continues to attract new residents, with new business and job opportunities being created by several major projects.

Two new shopping malls are planned and groundworks have already begun on one, the R350m Kalahari Mall situated in the eastern suburb of De Rand, which will be a retail hub for local residents and consumers from the nearby towns of Kathu, Keetmanshoop and Prieska.

Tourism to Upington and the surrounding area is also growing, as the town is a popular stopover on the major routes to Namibia, the Augrabies Falls and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and also has its own attractions, such as the Orange River Wine Cellars and great facilities on the river for watersports enthusiasts, anglers and golfers.

A new State hospital has just been completed and is expected to open early next year (2013), as soon as about 600 staff posts have been filled. “And apart from all the new hospital staff and business owners who will need accommodation,” says Becker, “the town continues to attract families keen for their children to attend the top-rated local high schools, as well as an overflow of buyers from the surrounding mining towns of Kathu, Kuruman and Postmasburg.”

Becker, who is a qualified agriculturalist, entered the real estate industry in 2001 and specialised in farm sales. He has been a partner is the local franchises of two other national real estate companies but recently decided to go on his own under the Chas Everitt International banner.
The good news in the local market, he says, is that those who can afford to buy homes here are generally buyers who have sold an existing home elsewhere before relocating to Upington – which means that they usually have cash available for a deposit and can obtain home loans more easily.

“In addition, both developers and the city council are now beginning to anticipate the economic potential in the massive solar energy plant that has been proposed for this area, and land has at last been identified for new residential development. Environmental impact studies are underway and there’s a strong possibility that by this time next year we will have some more affordable stock to sell.”

The Department of Energy is currently testing the feasibility of the 5GW solar park and has said it would create some 12 300 direct construction jobs per year over a nine-year construction period and more than 3000 permanent operations and maintenance jobs once completed. This would represent a major addition to the town’s population, which is currently around 75 000.

According to property data company Lightstone, 70% of recent homebuyers in Upington have been between 35 and 50 years of age, and the average sold price for freehold properties for the first nine months of 2012 has been R1,34m, compared to R518 000 during 2011. This average has been positively influenced by the fact that 25% of the properties sold this year have reached prices of more than R3m each.
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