THE affluent suburb of Walmer in Port Elizabeth is regarded as something of an establishment, with some of the city’s oldest families calling the area home.
Originally farmland, the area was subdivided into various portions. The portion initially known as “Muller town” was later renamed Walmer after the Duke of Wellington, who died at Walmer Castle.
This explains the link between Walmer and some of the more established families within the Port Elizabeth region, with some them putting their roots down in the area as early as 1850.
A party of about 4000 British settlers first arrived in Port Elizabeth in 1820, encouraged by the government of the Cape Colony.
The acting Governor of the Cape Colony at the time, Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin, founded the seaport town, naming it after his wife, Elizabeth. By 1861, Port Elizabeth was granted the status of an independent municipality and the region expanded into a diverse community with the area’s population growing particularly rapidly after the railway to Kimberley was built in 1873. Although much development has occurred in Port Elizabeth since the railway was built, the suburb of Walmer has maintained its natural beauty and become known as a garden suburb.
The large homes have not only become popular among home buyers, but businesses as well, with parts of Walmer now demarcated as business zones.
This is due to the fact that the suburb is well positioned, acting as a feeder area to the entire coastline of the city.
Walmer is in close proximity to the airport and incorporates amenities such as the Walmer Park Shopping Centre.
Adrian Goslett, CEO of Remax of Southern Africa, says while the largest group of existing homeowners in the area are those aged between 50 and 64 years (38.22%), it is the slightly younger demographic which has been the most active in the area. He notes that consumers aged between 36 and 49 years account for nearly half of all the recent buyers in Walmer. This age group also accounts for 38.34% of the recent sellers. Goslett says property in Walmer consists mostly of freestanding homes (71.31%), while 24.33% are sectional title units and 4.36% are estates.
According to data from Lightstone, between 2004 and 2007 the number of property sales transactions in the area was relatively high, with an average of 261 properties sold per year.
However, in 2008 this dropped to 173 and to 118 in 2009. Up until last year, property sales have stayed at the 2009 level, with 121 properties sold last year.
PROPERTY PRICE TRENDS
According to Goslett, the average price of a freestanding home grew rapidly in Walmer between 2004 and 2008, jumping in increments of about R300000 each year until it reached R1.919-million.
During the same period, sectional title unit prices also saw growth but not nearly to the same extent; with the average price about R600000 in 2008. The price of a freestanding home dipped to R1.746-million in 2009, but recovered in 2010, reaching a record high of R2.026-million in 2011.
Prices dropped again last year, with the current price of a freestanding home R1.707-million and a sectional title unit at R567 000.
Goslett says a great number of the homes sold between June last year and May were those priced between R800000 and R1.5-million, with 37.5% of properties falling into this category.
Properties within the R1.5-million to R3-million category represented 30.9% of the area’s sales, while properties between R400000 and R800000 represented 19.1%. Almost 7% of properties sold during this period were priced above R3-million, while only 5.9% were sold for less than R400000.