George a retirement haven

NAMED after a British monarch and established as a result of the growing demand for timber, George is situated along the Garden Route, halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

Although now a popular holiday destination, George was initially established as an outpost in 1776 by the Dutch East India Company who required wood for building, transport and furniture.

At the time, the outpost had a small population made up of woodcutters and their families. However, this changed after 1795 when the British took occupation of the Cape.

During 1806, it was decided that the Swellendam magistracy was to be subdivided as it was too large. George was the logical decision as it had availability of good water and was declared a separate district in 1811 with Adriaan Geysbertus van Kervel appointed as the first magistrate.

On April 23 that same year, George was proclaimed a town by the Earl of Caledon and governor of the Cape Colony.

George remained a fairly quiet, slow-growing town until the 19th century, when the improvement of communications exposed the charm of the region resulting in vast growth.

Today it is regarded as the administrative capital of the Southern Cape and has transformed from an industrial town into a major tourist hub.

CEO of Remax of Southern Africa Adrian Goslett said in George central a large number of consumers are purchasing property for their retirement.

According to Lightstone data, about 66.67% of recent buyers are over the age of 65, while remaining buyers are split equally between the 50- to 64-year-old age group (16.67%) and those between 36 and 49 (16.67%).

While consumers between the ages of 50 and 64 represent the highest percentage of current homeowners (42.55%), it is the 36- to 49-year-old demographic that represents the highest number of people selling their property, accounting for 75% of recent sellers.

Goslett said property in George central consists of 55.32% sectional title units and 44.68% freestanding homes.

He noted that from 2004 to 2007 the average price of a freestanding home grew by large increments, dipping slightly in 2008, but recovering in 2009.

The average price of a freestanding home stabilised around the R2-million mark until 2011, when the price saw another drop.

Prices in George central have continued to decline with the current average price now at about R849000.

Since 2008, the average price of a sectional title unit has not climbed higher than R620000, with the current average price about R450000.

According to Goslett, unlike most regions throughout the country, the property market in George central peaked in 2004 and again in 2011, however has remained fairly stable otherwise.

Goslett said most properties sold in George central between September 2012 and August 2013 were those priced between R400000 and R800000. These homes accounted for 88.9% of all sales during this period.

The remaining 11.1% of properties sold in the area during this time frame were priced between R800000 and R1.5-million.

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