Young home buyers, especially first-time buyers, are flocking to smaller, more outlying towns in the Western Cape’s Boland and Overberg regions, such as Malmesbury, Wellington, Worcester, Elgin and Grabouw.
“Apart from security and an appealing lifestyle, a key element of the attraction of relocating to small towns from metropolitan areas is the proliferation of more affordable freehold homes on larger plots, ideal for young families with small children,” said Annien Borg, who heads up Pam Golding Properties in the Boland and Overberg regions.
“In Malmesbury, one of the largest towns in the Swartland, which is consistently rated as one of the best-managed municipalities in South Africa, and just over an hour from Cape Town via the upgraded dual carriageway N7 freeway, approximately a third of recent buyers were young adults (18-35 years) – the bulk most likely first-time buyers.
“In addition, an estimated 41% of recent buyers were between 36 and 49 years, which suggests that the town appeals to families and young professionals.”
Also indicative of heightened demand for homes in Malmesbury are statistics from Lightstone which reveal that over the past decade (2012-2022), freehold prices in the town have risen by a solid 184% to a median price of R1.56 million for the year to date.
Sales of freehold homes have remained buoyant over the past 10 years, with particularly strong activity in 2021 when 183 freehold homes across the market in total were sold, which is the highest sales activity in a decade. Furthermore, the 147 vacant plots sold last year (2021) was also the largest number of sales during the same 10-year period, said Pam Golding.
Adding to the appeal of the area as a regional hub is a new 11ha mixed-use development which recently broke ground on the northern boundary of Malmesbury, adjacent to the N7 and the town’s main road. De Zwartland Werf will include a sizeable retail centre, office space, residential apartments, a 102-bed private hospital and motor showroom, the property specialist said.
The development will generate significant commercial activity in the area and is expected to boost employment while offering towns in the surrounds a much-needed space to shop, eat, work and play in a scenic setting.
According to local Pam Golding Properties area principals, Arno and Elize van der Merwe, the demand for accessibly-priced homes soared after the first, hard lockdown, when many people began working from home, seeking residences – including those in security estates – ranging from R1.4 million to R1.8 million.
“Although prices have increased in the past 18 months, Malmesbury still offers great value for money as one can buy a spacious 80sqm, two-bedroom apartment plus a lock-up garage for around R900,000 while similar properties in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs sell for around R1.3 million,” said Elize van der Merwe.
In Malmesbury two-bedroom entry-level houses sell for under R1.5 million and three-bedroom family homes for under R2 million – which is between R300,000 and R500,000 less than in the city.
“A new secure estate, Olive Place, with two and three-bedroom homes available to purchase off-plan from R1.489 million and offering modern, country living, is selling well, with 70 of the total of 90 homes already snapped up. Phase one is already sold out and phase two is partly sold or under construction,” said Arno van der Merwe.
“A key attraction in our area is country living – this well-managed town has all the essential amenities and easy access to large shopping malls like Cape Gate while enjoying a more relaxed country-type lifestyle. With the N7 upgraded to a dual road, we see a lot of people who lived in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs and work in the Milnerton/Blouberg area relocating here, as it’s now a relaxed 35-minute drive for them from Malmesbury instead of a stressful hour to hour-and-a-half drive to work.
“We also have home buyers from upcountry who want to live close to Cape Town but not in the city.”
Established schools include Swartland Primary in the centre of the town, Christelike Privaatskool Malmesbury on the edge of town close to the N7 and Mount Royal Golf & Country Estate, Schoonspruit Secondary School and Wesbank Secondary School in the suburb of Wesbank, Ilingelethu Secondary School in Ilingelethu and the well-respected Swartland High School close to the centre of town.
“Just 35km north of Malmesbury, the small town of Moorreesburg is also attracting high interest and demand for home buyers, with family homes affordably priced below R2 million, with two and three-bedroom homes averaging at around R1.75 million.”
Wellington, situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands and approximately 45 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, is another town which is benefitting from the ongoing semigration trend and ‘zoom boom’, and is drawing an influx of young and first-time buyers and families attracted by the relative affordability of homes and the lifestyle offering, said Pam Golding.
The town enjoys a very stable housing market, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of homeowners having owned their homes for 11 or more years, while nearly a fifth (19%) of homeowners have owned their homes for less than five years, suggesting an influx of new residents.
This is reinforced by the fact that 34% of recent buyers (June 2021 to May 2022) were under the age of 35 years, many of whom are likely to be first-time buyers, while a further 34% were between 36 and 49 years of age, supporting the view that the town is attracting an influx of younger people and families.
Increased demand for homes in the town is also evident in the strong increase in vacant plot sales last year (2021), with 109 registered sales, which is the highest number of plots sold since 2016 when 115 plots were sold, the property group said.
The increased demand for homes in Wellington has resulted in strong growth in the median price of freehold homes in recent years – from a median price of just R1 million in 2018, the median price of freehold homes has risen steadily in recent years, reaching R1.85 million for the year to date.
Pam Golding Properties area manager for Wellington, Grabouw, Paarl and Franschhoek, Surina du Toit, said Wellington is extremely sought after among home buyers, with stock needed to meet the high demand, which is pushing up prices.
“Approximately half our home buyers are singles and young couples seeking homes in the price bracket from R1.2 million to R3.5 million. Purchasers are from far and wide, not only locals but also from Cape Town, Johannesburg and even overseas. They are looking to buy duplexes, simplexes, homes in security estates, or two or three-bedroom homes which they can renovate and expand in later years as the family grows.
“Especially for young buyers, there is still tremendous value for money in Wellington, for example, a two-bedroom apartment with a parking bay in a complex can be had for R1.2 million, a three-bedroom townhouse for R2.5 million, a three-bedroom, approximately 230sqm freestanding home with braai patio, swimming pool and double garage for around R2.4 million to R3 million – depending on area and condition, and a 250sqm+ home including the above features for between R2.6 million and R3.5 million.”
Schools include Hugo Rust Primary, Huguenot Primary and High Schools and a Wellington Preparatory School and College in The Diemersfontein Village, among others.
Another town proving a drawcard for younger buyers is Worcester, located 120km northeast of Cape Town, set on the banks of the Breede River amid the Du Toitskloof Mountains. This important wine-producing area is considered the ‘capital’ of the Breede River Valley.
Much like Wellington, there has been a strong demand for vacant plots, a trend which increased markedly since the start of the pandemic. Prices of homes average from around R1.5 million to R1.8 million for an entry-level two or three-bedroom house, while more upmarket areas such as Bloekombos and Panorama achieve prices between R2.1 million and R2.8 million for family homes, and Langerug and Fairway Heights in the region of R3 million-plus.
Meanwhile in the Grabouw/Elgin areas in the Overberg, affordability and the desire for more spacious properties are attracting family buyers.
“Grabouw, which is situated in the Elgin Valley about 70km south-east of Cape Town, and Elgin generally, offer far more space, for example, property sizes in Klipkop Estate range between 2 000 and 5 000sqm with many incorporating two dwellings, ideal for work from home and/or dual family living. This is far more affordable than the Helderberg area, where most of our buyers are from, or Cape Town,” said du Toit.
“In Elgin Village, a housing development on a working apple farm, vacant stands vary from R950,000 to R1.7 million, old houses from R2.5 million to R3 million, and new houses set on 1 500sqm from R4.5 million to R5 million.
In Klipkop Estate (which is not a security estate), properties with large grounds averaging at 4 500sqm, mostly suited to dual-family living, are priced between R3 million and R4.5 million, while in Grabouw residential property can be acquired between R1.2 million and R1.5 million for a family home on erven from 800 to 1000sqm.”