Property booms on Wild Coast despite slump

Posted On Tuesday, 04 August 2009 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Demand outweighs supply when it comes to real estate in the Eastern Cape region and investors are queuing up to lay their hands on prime riverfront and seaside homes.

Andrew Golding

While the South African property market is in the throes of a major decline in values, the Eastern Cape‘s pristine Wild Coast is experiencing an unprecedented property boom.

With Pam Golding CEO Andrew Golding having labelled the area stretching from Kei Mouth to Port Edward as the “next big thing”, some properties are taking just two weeks to sell.

Port St Johns estate agent Peter Woodford said the area had not been adversely affected by current property trends which have seen the value of houses plummet all over South Africa.

He had a long list of clients wanting to buy along Long Beach, a prime seaside strip in Port St Johns.

“There are only 20 homes along that stretch of beach, so if one comes on the market, we have a list of people we could sell it to. Prime sites get sold very quickly mainly to buyers in Johannesburg, KwaZulu Natal and Bloemfontein.”

Johannesburg resident Patrick Fegen waited “a very, very long time” for the perfect Port St Johns property and snapped it up instantly when it came up.

“The house is on Agate Terrace, which is highly sought after, so when it came up I wasn‘t going to let it pass.

"I paid R2,4-million for it, but I would have gone up to R3,2- million to get it,” said Fegen, who has since renovated the seven-bedroomed property to the tune of almost R1-million.

“I enjoy fishing a lot and Transkei is the place to fish.

"Also my grandfathers grew up in Port St Johns and two of my brothers also own property here.

"This coast still has a lot of wildness to it and you can really get away from people when you come here.”

I am also happy to have invested away from the rat race in Port St Johns is internet café and restaurant owner Ntombekaya Mtakati, who returned to the place of her birth after working abroad and in Cape Town.

“I came back to see my family here, got hooked and stayed.

"I love the relaxed lifestyle and it‘s a lovely place to raise my son,” said Mtakati, who bought a double-storey home on the golf course and enjoys views of Mount Sullivan and the sea.

“I think it is a very good investment – I have already been offered R200 000 more for my home.

"It is because there is nothing to buy here. People hold on to their properties – they are like gold.”

Fegen and Mtakati were keen to buy in Port St Johns, but had they wanted to buy elsewhere on the Wild Coast, their quest would have been a thornier one.

“Port St Johns is the only part of the Wild Coast where you will get a title deed for your property – so it‘s a safe bet,” explained Woodford, who owns the Pam Golding franchise in the town.

“Only hotels and trading stations along this coastline have title deeds. The rest are owned by tribal authorities.”

Before 1993, Woodford said, people had secured idyllic coastal properties by offering tribal chiefs minimum payment or “bottles of brandy” for plots for which they then received “permission to occupy” documents.

These were registered with headmen or the chief and were then noted by tribal authorities, according to the old Transkeian system.

These “brandy plots” were usually allocated to traders operating in Transkei, who would then build modest holiday shacks along the coastline.

These were passed down in families, but the permission to occupy could not be transferred to another party or be sold.

“After 1993 that was stopped,” Woodford said.

“It became illegal, but people continued to do it (get permission from chiefs) and some people went overboard and built huge mansions instead of fisherman‘s cottages.

Three years ago several illegal seaside homes – some worth millions of rands – were destroyed by the government because their owners did not own title deeds or because they were on ecologically sensitive land or too close to the high-water mark.

“These homes went up on prime idyllic spots. Most were built by Eastern Cape people who had been coming to the Wild Coast for years and knew how stunning it is.

"This is why there is more demand than supply in Port St Johns – people will pay premium here,” Woodford said.

In December he sold a house for more than the asking price because two buyers wanted it.

“Also, most are cash buyers and are familiar with this coast, like a Jo‘burg oil company lawyer who used to come here for 25 years and eventually was prepared to pay over R1-million for a two-bedroomed thatch cottage with great views.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:57

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