Explosion of growth as Cape projects materialise
Demand for residential property in Upington now outstrips supply, writes Anna-marie Smith
THE property industry in the Northern Cape is gearing up to benefit from two new projects, resulting in an influx of skilled artisans and employees of new businesses in the fields of science, engineering and technology.
The Northern Cape’s proven potential as an astronomy hub of international significance, has led to the shared hosting of the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) project, along with Australia, in all likelihood to be situated in Carnarvon, as well as Eskom’s new solar plant in Upington. Predictions by local real estate professionals presently dealing with insatiable demand and a lack of supply of housing are for the town to be doubling in size over the next five years.
Seeff Upington licensee André Mostert says Upington’s ideal location with consistent solar radiation, flat and sparsely populated land, good transport and electricity grid infrastructure, and the Orange River as a reliable water source, has resulted in the town being awarded the 100MW concentrated solar power plant.
Industrial and business visitors from afar have long recognised this unique setting high above sea level amid wide open spaces and perfect skies. Upington Airport’s high elevation above sea level and extreme length runway of4 900m offers ideal landing facilities in extreme heat conditions, and facilitates refuelling as well as large cargo carriers.
As a result, this small town is no newcomer to both foreign and local tourists who frequent the over 100 guest houses when stopping over en route to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Augrabies National Park and Falls, Namaqualand flowers, Namibia and the Richtersveld.
Mostert says increased demand, in particular for rental property is seen, as well as buyers from wide and as far as Johannesburg and Cape Town.
“Development is starting to boom and the town is expected to double in size over the next five years. Some of the development includes two new shopping malls, a new provincial hospital and the development of the airport into an international cargo hub. The town is also a possible location for the province’s first university.”
He says middle to upper range housing is already becoming a scarce commodity, resulting from the significant impact of the two large projects planned for the area. He says the scarcity of typical older homes, around the R500 000 to R600 000 price mark, results in selling within 48 hours as they are also ideal for first time buyers.
He says it leaves ideal opportunities for new entry level housing developments, but also for buy-to-let investors wishing to capitalise on growing rental demand. The average price of a standard three-bedroom home ranges from R800 000 to R1m and these command good rental rates.
Dirk Myburgh, principal and owner of ERA Properties in Upington says the need for additional housing in the area might see corporate players entering the market, possibly by providing temporary housing. He says new hospital personnel and contractors, with their families, need to be accommodated, and feels that the town would greatly benefit from new property development.
Myburgh says senior corporate employees are either buying or renting upmarket homes and property owners aware of the future demand are already increasing rentals since luxury homes will soon demand top rental incomes. He says that although local farm land is selling well, and in view of the longer-term solar power plant project, Upington would benefit from the local municipality demarcating and releasing additional residential property for development as a matter of urgency.
Also illustrating demand is the recent expansion of the local hotel, home to those commuting long distances to their workplace, such as the 180km between Upington and Pofadder.
Also showing a marked impact on property in the area is the local mining industry further north of Upington.
Pam Golding Properties franchisee owner Filon Smith says luxury homes are snapped up by mining executives employed in Kathu, Buffelshoek and Kuruman who relocate their families to Upington, and stock below R1m is almost nonexistent. Smit says heavy demand for houses priced at over R1m remains, with property owners seeing returns on investments of between 8% and 10% a year.
Also feeding the tourism market as result of the unique location and extreme summer temperatures is the regular influx of technical motoring experts from Germany, for testing of BMWs and Mercedes Benzes, says Smit.
While the solar plant development is at the earliest stages of approval, the real estate industry expects new residents from Spain and Italy by June next year.
Smit says demand for property in private estates is high.
An aerial view of Upington on the Orange River where property investment opportunities abound.