UNLIKE in many regions throughout the country, property prices in Grahamstown were not affected by the recession period at all, according to Remax South Africa chief executive Adrian Goslett.
Since 2004, property values in the area have seen a steady appreciation, with the current average price of a freestanding home about R1.2-million and the average price of a sectional title unit about R703000.
Property in the area consists of 87.18% freestanding homes and 12.82% sectional title units, according to Lightstone’s property report.
While property prices were not affected, Goslett says sales transactions were, with numbers decreasing by almost half in 2009.
Sales from 2009 up to the end of last year have remained fairly stable, with an average of 155 freestanding homes and 43 sectional title units sold per month. Goslett notes that about 50% of the recent buying activity in Grahamstown is from consumers aged between 36 and 49 years old, while about 25% of buyers are aged 18 to 35 years old.
The largest group of existing homeowners in the area are aged between 50 and 64 years old, Goslett points out, the same demographic that accounts for nearly 40% of the recent sellers.
DEMAND FOR PROPERTY
The most sought-after real estate in Grahamstown are properties that fall within the R800000 to R1.5-million price bracket, Goslett says.
These homes account for 38% of all properties sold in the area from March last year to February this year. Also popular are homes priced between R400000 and R800000, with 29.1% of homes sold in the same period falling within this price range.
Homes priced between R1.5-million and R3-million, along with those under R400000, each accounted for 15% of all the property sold last year.
About 2.8% of properties sold last year were priced at more than R3-million.
HISTORY OF GRAHAMSTOWN
Founded in 1812 by Lieutenant-Colonel John Graham, the original purpose of Grahamstown was to act as a military outpost for British soldiers securing the eastern frontier of the Cape Colony against the Xhosa.
The Xhosa were almost able to take the town on April 22 1819. However, in spite of many losses, the British were able to ward them off with heavy artillery and gunfire.
Nxele, the leader of the Xhosa, surrendered and was imprisoned on Robben Island where he later died during an escape attempt. Following the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, Grahamstown experienced massive expansion as many of the settlers left farming to pursue other occupations.
Over the next few decades, Grahamstown became the second largest city in the then Cape Colony, second only to Cape Town itself.
By 1852 it was commonly known as the cultural hub of the Albany area – an English- speaking and culturally diverse district.
During 1872 the Cape Government Railways began constructing a railway line from Grahamstown to Port Alfred along the coast, as well as a national inland railway network.
By September 1879, the railway was completed, which helped in Grahamstown’s expansion and population growth. Grahamstown became known as an education hub with the establishment of the Rhodes University College in 1904, following a grant from the Rhodes Trust.
It became a fully fledged university during 1951 and is now known simply as Rhodes University – a world-class tertiary education institution.
Grahamstown is also home to a high court, which is a local division of the Supreme Court of South Africa located in Cape Town.
It has become synonymous with the National Arts Festival, Africa’s largest and most colourful arts and culture festival.