Ex­plo­sion of growth as Cape projects ma­te­ri­alise

De­mand for res­i­den­tial prop­erty in Uping­ton now out­strips sup­ply, writes Anna-marie Smith

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

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.

Pic­ture: SE­EFF PROP­ER­TIES

An aerial view of Uping­ton on the Or­ange River where prop­erty in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties abound.

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