Seeff Property Group says that people are increasingly choosing to relocate to smaller towns following the onset of the Covid pandemic, citing data from research group Lightstone.
Lightstone data shows that about 20% fewer people are now moving from cities to cities, while, according to Seeff, more people are also purchasing second homes in small towns.
“It is not just older buyers in the 45-65 year age range, but younger professionals and families who are also ditching the cities for the countryside,” it said.
The largest recorded exodus is out of Gauteng, which makes up 44% of the people leaving cities, followed by the Western Cape with 30% and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) with 12%.
Seeff noted that those moving from Western Cape and KZN cities tend to choose smaller towns in their own provinces whereas people from Gauteng are moving long distances, often to the Western Cape and KZN, and to a lesser degree Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and North West.
Seeff Properties pointed to the following towns as attractive spots for semigrants:
Small country and coastal towns in the Western Cape have significantly benefitted from the pandemic-induced lifestyle shifts, said Ian Badenhorst, managing director for Seeff Country and Karoo.
Located as a popular stop-over to the Garden Route, Swellendam boasts a robust agricultural economy, good schools, clean air and retirement options. Rentals average around R9,000 to R14,000 per month while there is still good value in the R2-3 million range market.
Swellendam recovered quickly to pre-pandemic levels and saw the highest turnover since 2017, according to Seeff, adding that well-priced properties in Swellendam can sell within 3-5 days after listing.
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Harebeessport remains a popular choice for people from Gauteng,
Donna Nass, Seeff’s licensee for the area, said that the town’s proximity to Johannesburg and Pretoria makes it ideal. The large volume of estates in the area draws in a lot of people to the area, complemented by leisure and basic amenities around the town.
Over last year, the market ended 52% higher than in 2020 and 56% higher than the annual average since 2011.
Ladismith in the Karoo is another small town drawing buyers from as far as Gauteng, KZN and Mpumalanga, said Sonja Claassen, a property practitioner for Seeff.
Only 90-minutes away from George and the beachfront, Ladismith offers an affordable alternative, with most properties ranging between R850,000 – R1.5 million. Rentals are priced at roughly R4,500 to R6,00 per month.
The housing market in Ladismith has seen its highest turnover in five years, the property group said.
The Riversdale market is up on pre-Covid levels as people flock from the cities, said Willie Janse Van Rensburg, a property agent from Seeff Riversdale.
“Lifestyle farms in the R4 million to R5 million range are particularly sought after, and a sizable chunk of buyers are from around the Cape metro looking to relocate to the Southern Cape.”
The coastal town of Gansbaai, just south of Hermanus also achieved record turnover over the last year. Marlene Uys, a property agent with Seeff Gansbaai said there has been an influx of buyers, largely from Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal.
Gansbaai is very accessible from Cape Town and a great place to retire or invest in a holiday home. It has good basic facilities including fibre. The busiest property band tends to be around R1.5 million to R1.7 million while the average monthly rental is R7,500.
Struisbaai, Aghulhas and Suiderstrand
Further south, Richard Pratt, manager for Struisbaai, Aghulhas and Suiderstrand said the pandemic has been a big boost with property demand spiking since the onset of the first wave.
Houses under R3 million seem to be most in-demand, but vacant land under R600,000 is also attracting interest. Affordable property has become very scarce, he said.
People are mostly buying holiday houses, however, many, and especially younger people in the 30-50 year age group are starting to relocate here permanently. If priced correctly, a property can sell within a month, or even less. Pratt said properties which offer something extra like location or views will sell very quickly.
The town of Plettenberg Bay has seen a record year with several high-value sales as people flock to the town permanently as well as invest in second homes, according to Alet Ollemans, sales director for Seeff Plettenberg Bay.
According to New World Wealth, Plettenberg Bay is the top location in South Africa for ultra-luxury homes, after Johannesburg and Cape Town. The town has 150 homes valued at over R20 million.
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The Cape West Coast town of Langebaan has recorded an all-time high amount of transactions over 2021, amounting to a significant market value of R1.3 billion with huge demand, especially in the R1.5 million to R3 million range.
KZN South Coast
The KZN South Coast has attracted more buyers from elsewhere since the onset of the pandemic, according to Michelle Harris, licensee for Seeff in the area.
Local markets here not only bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, but areas such as Amanzimtoti, Hibberdene, Port Shepstone and Margate all achieved record transactions last year.
“We have seen more people looking to relocate to the smaller towns or invest in second homes to escape the cities given the rising ‘work from anywhere’ trend,” said Harris.