Buyers go wild over Karoo land

Posted On Tuesday, 05 February 2008 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Eastern Cape farm land is fetching record prices and then being converted into tourist resorts, game farms and even used for holiday getaways.


Property-Housing-ResidentialWhile sales around the rest of the country lag and residential property sales plummet, thanks in part to several consecutive interest rate hikes, estate agents say demand for Eastern Cape farms has never been higher, with foreign buyers showing a keen interest.

Agents say the average price for Karoo land is fast spiraling past R2 000 per hectare, at times fetching as much as R4 400/ha – a price buyers described as ludicrous just 12 months ago. In the game reserve-rich area surrounding Grahamstown, prices are fast reaching R5 000/ha.

Andrew McNaughton, a Graaff-Reinet estate agent and former farmer in the region, said average prices for farms in the area in 2006 were less than R1 700/ha.

“Now it‘s shot over R2 000/ha and some smaller farms under 1 200ha in size have gone for up to R3 500/ha.

“It‘s different to the residential market, which is a buyer‘s market. There are very few farms for sale now and they don‘t stay on the market for long. The hike has surprised us all. Two years ago, if someone asked over R2 000/ha for their farm, people would have scoffed.”

Late last year a 9 500ha farm – large for the area – one hour from the picturesque Karoo town fetched R21-million and according to McNaughton was bought “specifically for game purposes”.

Other farms sold recently fetched more than R2 000/ha and went, among others, to a Gauteng tour company set on establishing an ecotourism mecca, a Mossel Bay businessman who wanted to farm, and an extension of the Camdeboo National Park.

Foreigners are also showing interest and McNaugton said 15 000ha had already been bought for a game farm in the Nieu-Bethesda area by Dutch and Italian businessmen.

East Cape Game Management company head Jokl le Roux said: “Overseas investors and local buyers see the lack of tropical diseases here as well as the large variety of biomes, which can carry up to 30 different species, as a bonus. We‘re the preferred destination because people can have more land here compared with buying less land for the same price elsewhere.”

Steytlerville estate agent Linda Henderson said many were “lifestyle buyers” who bought smaller properties as holiday destinations, while others buying larger properties were looking to cash in on the game farm craze.

Port Elizabeth estate agent John Keevy said the starting price for land in the Grahamstown area was R4 000/ha, an asking price fast spreading to surrounding areas like Bedford, mostly for game farms.

“Smaller farms are taking the place of coastal properties. Many people are buying them as a getaway because of the safety and tranquility.”

Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 17:00
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