3 surprising provinces offering great returns on property in South Africa right now

 ·13 May 2023

The Free State, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo are continuing their silent but steady upward trajectory regarding property demand, says Rhys Dyer, the CEO of Ooba.

According to the CEO, these provinces are leading the way in the first-time homebuyers segment because they are affordable, offer value for money, and align with the trend of young homeowners moving back to their hometowns to start a family.

Dyer said investing in the Free State, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo is a solid investment strategy – particularly for first-time homebuyers looking to make their big break into the property market.

Free State

Dyer said that the Free State comes out on top for first-time homebuyers, with applications in the first quarter of 2023 sitting at 71.4% of the total applications received by Ooba home loans, followed by Mpumalanga at 59.4%.

“While affordability continues to dwindle amongst rates-sensitive first-time homebuyers, we see healthy activity levels in this market sector in the Free State. In March alone, 67% of the total home loan applications received for the region were from first-time homebuyers.”

The area’s capital Bloemfontein has enjoyed increased property sales over the past few years, said Dyer. The city registered its highest peaks over the past decade in 2021 and 2022.

Property group Lightstone reported that 522 sectional title units and 282 freehold homes had been sold in Bloemfontein this year alone.

The graph below shows the percentage of first-time buyer applications over the last six months:


Regardless of it often being considered a tourism hotspot, Mpumalanga is presenting an excellent investment opportunity with heightened demand for investment and rental properties,

Dyer said the capital Mbombela is also enticing first-time homebuyers, particularly in new developments like Matumi Valley, Green Valley Estate and Intaba Estate.

The average purchase price of first-time homes continues to rise – from R955,000 in Q1 of 2022 to R1.038 million in Q1 of 2023 – an increase of 8.7%.

Dyer said the close-knit estate living communities have been firm drivers of the region’s growth.

“Estates already account for nearly 40% of total housing stock in Mbombela, once again underpinning the need for security, a sense of community, amenities and a ‘lock up and go’ lifestyle.”

There was a decade high of 803 freehold homes sold in 2021 and 741 freehold homes in 2022.

“Over the past 12 months, 116 new plots were sold – 107 of which were located in estates.”

Investment and rental percentage applications over the last three months:


The northernmost province of Limpopo has enjoyed an average purchase price jump of 4.7% in less than a year.

According to Dyer, as of March 2023, the average purchase price in the area is R1.5 million.

“The price of properties for first-time buyers has also seen a sharp uptick in a short time, rising from R918,500 in July 2022 to R1.295 million in March 2023,” said Dyer.

As a result, the average first-time buyer price in Limpopo is higher than the national average purchase price – a good indicator of property confidence in the region.

The CEO said that the town of Hoedspruit has experienced momentum in the price of freehold homes and vacant land over the last three years.

For semigrants that leave major metros for smaller towns, the care-free lifestyle is what sets Hoedspruit apart, said Dyer.

The graph below shows the increase in sales prices in Hoedspruit over the last decade:

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