For years, the Garden Route has been a fairly well-kept secret, particularly when it comes to buyers from Great Britain. However, since the credit crunch and the sudden drop of the UK pound sterling’s value in relation to the Euro, more and more UK residents are hunting for second homes, holiday villas and retirement accommodation in Mossel Bay, George, and surrounding areas – pushing up prices as they snap up desirable and luxurious properties that appeal to British buyers due to their beautiful setting, nearby wildlife reserves and proximity to the coast. Expats from the UK and beyond have been shunning traditional retirement locations such as Spain and Cyprus and opting to spend their money on Garden Route property instead.
Why Brits are choosing the Garden Route.
Since the economy crashed and the Euro hit an all time high, European properties don’t have the same appeal – or affordability – for British buyers that they used to. In contrast, favourable sterling-rand exchange rates mean that a Garden Route cottage is a bargain compared to a high rise apartment in the Costa Del Sol, and British expats are flooding to South Africa as a result. Even if they don’t want to permanently relocate to the Garden Route, the popularity of areas like Knysna and Mossel Bay mean that they can rent their new purchases out as holiday homes and benefit from additional income. Also, the Garden Route offers everything a potential retiree needs in terms of fine dining, leisure activities such as golf, horse riding and swimming. Not to mention a new, sunny and previously unexplored way of life: something that can’t help but tempt British expats away from their rainy island! Also, British people drive on the left and speak English, meaning that South Africa offers a home from home in a way that Spain- and even Cyprus- don’t.
What UK buyers are looking for.
If you’re considering marketing your property to this burgeoning UK market, you should consider what features British buyers are most keen on before spending money marketing your home overseas. Everyone is different, but the majority of buyers from Great Britain are looking for properties that combine peace, tranquillity, good weather, safety, natural beauty, luxury and affordability. The Garden Route- with its spectacular scenery, high quality amenities, friendly atmosphere and great exchange rate- ticks all of those boxes, meaning that houses are being snapped up all along the East Coast. By choosing to purchase property in South Africa, overseas buyers are striking out into unknown territory and want to ensure they’re comfortable- and welcomed- in their new adoptive country. Estates that offer enhanced security measures tend to be preferred by expats as they want to secure their assets and make the transition to living on another continent in a secure, well managed way. Golfers are also keen to snap up properties in George and Knysna. Like all home buyers, British expats are also concerned with the quality of the property that they’re buying and may want to do additional checks and surveys to ensure that the building materials used are good quality and don’t contain any hazardous or old fashioned building materials.
How prices have been affected.
Homes in Stilbaai have proved particularly attractive to retirees due to the town’s calm atmosphere and low crime rate. For R1 million, UK buyers can purchase a property that – if it was situated in a more usual British expat enclave such as Cyprus- would cost twice as much, although those 1 million properties are rapidly increasing in price as more and more UK residents snap them up. Still more retirees favour larger homes so that they have room for visiting family, meaning that according to Property24.com, this year prices in Stilbaai have averaged R1.5 million, though the highest price achieved was R5.9 million for a five bedroom home- the same price as an ordinary two bedroom family home in a large UK city. Elsewhere on the Garden Route, well off UK buyers are treating themselves to properties costing R20 million or more at the high end of the market in areas like Plettenberg bay, pushing up the cost of exclusive smallholdings at time when you’d expect to see sellers struggling to sell expensive properties.
It’s not yet clear if this housing boom- fuelled by the strength of the Euro and an associated willingness amongst British house buyers to travel further afield- will form an unhealthy bubble, but in the short term one thing is abundantly clear: it’s definitely a seller’s market where Garden Route property is concerned.