Garden Route property market shows good signs of recovery

ACTIVITY in the Garden Route property markets of Knysna, George and Plettenberg Bay has picked up over the last year.

Business has definitely been better in the last year compared to the three preceding years, says Knysna estate agent Billy Rautenbach. Sales though are still predominantly residential with some sporadic retirement and holiday home sales, but still little investment buying.

According to the latest FNB holiday home market report, holiday home market prices have largely bottomed out and demand still sits at about half of what it was pre-2007.

The FNB estate agent survey puts the demand at 2% compared to 4% in 2007. FNB also puts the average price growth at under 1%.

Rautenbach says that especially at the top end, property prices have now flattened, down by up to 40% since pre-2007 as sellers who had invested here before the recession are now desperate to offload their properties. Certainly, she says, buyers are able to find exceptional value on the Garden Route.

About 90% of all sales over the last year in Knysna and George have been in the price band below R2-million. In Knysna, offers usually come in at about 30% under the asking price and deals are being done at about 15% to 20% under, says Rautenbach.

Vacant land offers are usually at around 40% below the asking price. There is still very little new development as there is still plenty of exceptionally priced stock on the market.

Retirement and holiday demand comes mostly from Gauteng and Cape Town buyers as well as from South African expats. In Brenton-on-Sea there is also some business from retired English, German and Dutch “swallows”.

Although there were two recent sales of R3.5-million and R4.3-million in the area, both were well below the asking price and buyers are mostly looking for homes priced around R2-million, says agent Sharon Corsten.

The best value though is above this price band. For example, a modern four-bedroomed home with under-floor heating and sea views throughout is now on offer for around R3.8-million.

The Garden Route remains one of the most naturally beautiful areas of the country and residents and holiday-makers are spoilt for choice in terms of activities.

From nature walks and bird-watching to stunning forests, beautiful beaches and adventure pursuits such as mountain biking, skydiving and paragliding, there is something to suit everyone.

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