Agent has fun riding surf and selling turf

HE’S an ex-civil engineer turned real-estate fundi who has mastered the St Francis Bay ideal of balancing hard work with a healthy devotion to the surf. This week’s realtor in the spotlight is Richard Arderne, franchisee and principal of Pam Golding Properties St Francis Bay since 2005.

“I was born and raised in Alcock Road, Walmer, and attended St George’s Prep and St Andrews in Grahamstown,” Richard said. He then spent a year in the Netherlands as a Rotary exchange student, four years at Stellenbosch University and two years in the navy.

“My wife, Jane, was at DSG in Grahamstown and a successful painter until she and a friend started BugZoo Children’s Clothing in 1992. She sold her share after 10 years and is now an estate agent who still produces many creative pieces.

“Two of our three sons have almost finished their engineering studies at Stellenbosch and the youngest has one more year at Woodridge College. They’ve enjoyed the St Francis watersports, and two of them are also sponsored skateboarders.”

Richard’s own passion is surfing. He also surfskis twice a week and he and his paddling partner have broken a couple of records in the local paddling club’s weekly 10km canal time trials.

How did your career in real estate begin? I returned to South Africa in 1986 as a 28-year-old civil engineer, after working in Scotland, and was offered 20% more by a property developer in Johannesburg than any engineering firm offered me.

What is the best thing about this career? And the worst? I enjoy owning my own business, the flexible lifestyle of being able to work in the evenings and early mornings, and during bad weather, and taking off time when the surf is good. The worst is having most of our sellers far away, and having to e-mail them.

What was your first buy and did it bear fruit? My wife and I bought our first house in Johannesburg in 1988, for R190000. We sold it for R220000, less than a year later, to move to Cape Town.

We bought a plot in 1991 in the second row from the beach in Llandudno for R200000 and built a house, which we still own today. We lived there until 2005.

Where do you currently live?We’ve been in five houses in seven years in St Francis: we first rented on the river, then in the village, then on the beach. We then bought in Cape St Francis, where we lived for three years until houses were built on the tennis court in front of us. We sold at a small profit and the last two years have rented what we believe is the nicest house on the canals. We will buy again in St Francis, but currently the rentals are very attractive.

Why did you choose to live here? My wife persuaded me to move here from Cape Town, and I’m very grateful she did! We miss the mountains, but the lifestyle is better here.

What was your worst property decision ever? I bought an old commercial building in Observatory with five friends. It was a mission to evict some squatters.

Why is now a good time to buy in St Francis Bay?Some St Francis plots have reached the point where they can’t really go any lower.

The property market is still fairly depressed. Do you see the situation improving? I doubt we’ll see meaningful improvement until at least mid-2013. But very few economists predicted the severe downturn of 2008/9, so perhaps an unexpected upturn is around the corner!

What is a savvy property investment at the moment? Plots at St Francis Links are now half the price they sold for at the launch in 2004. It’s without doubt the best security estate between Plett and Durban.

What words do you have for first-time buyers? I reckon they’re luckier than their friends who bought a few years ago!

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