Hout Bay dune re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion adds to beach­front ap­peal

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

THE QUAINT sub­urb of Hout Bay re­clines at the tail end of the At­lantic seaboard and with its sleepy fish­ing vil­lage at­mos­phere is re­garded by many as in­con­gru­ous to the other lux­ury sub­urbs on the ex­clu­sive coastal strip.

But this laid-back area is by no means a prop­erty dead zone, says Sylvie Wrankmore of Lew Gef­fen Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Re­alty on the At­lantic seaboard.

She says: “The mar­ket has re­mained very ac­tive with a lot of en­quiries from in­vestors who are drawn to the sub­urb’s life­style. How­ever, there has been a dip in sales this year par­tic­u­larly at the top end of the mar­ket as buy­ers are more re­luc­tant to com­mit be­cause of the cur­rent eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal trends.

“Homes that are real­is­ti­cally val­ued and mar­keted un­der R5 mil­lion are still sell­ing very well and av­er­age sell­ing prices are still on the rise.”

Ac­cord­ing to Prop­stats, in 2011 the av­er­age house price was R2.81m and sec­tional ti­tle homes were sold at an av­er­age of R1.2m, in­creas­ing to just un­der R4.1m and R1.7m re­spec­tively by 2015.

“And de­spite the gen­eral mar­ket slump, the av­er­age sale price of houses be­tween Jan­uary and June this year rose to R4.42m and sec­tional ti­tle homes re­alised an av­er­age sale price of R2.12m.”

In 2015 the fi­nal sell­ing prices of free­stand­ing homes were on av­er­age 7.5 per­cent less than list­ing prices and spent 143 days on the mar­ket, whereas apart­ments dur­ing the same pe­riod only took an av­er­age of 75 days to sell at 5.2 per­cent less than the marked price.

Dur­ing the first six months of 2016, houses re­mained on the mar­ket for 92 days, sell­ing at 6.5 per­cent un­der mar­keted prices and apart­ments took on av­er­age only 39 days to sell at 4 per­cent be­low list­ing prices.

Wrankmore says that homes in se­cu­rity es­tates in all price bands are in­creas­ingly sought- af­ter and that these prop­er­ties are sel­dom on the mar­ket for long. Most of the re­cently re­leased plots in the new Con­stan­tia Nek es­tate have also al­ready been sold.

“There are a num­ber of pri­vate es­tates in Hout Bay from which to choose, but there is now very lit­tle avail­able land left for devel­op­ment, so we ex­pect that in time there will be a short­age of avail­able stock.”

Es­tates ac­count for just 5 per­cent of the over­all res­i­den­tial prop­erty in South Africa, ac­cord­ing to Light­stone, but 15 per­cent of the land value.

The Hout Bay mar­ket is also be­ing spurred by the ris­ing prop­erty val­ues in Con­stan­tia – which are con­sid­er­ably higher than in Hout Bay – as well as the de­mand for larger agri­cul­tural prop­er­ties where horses can be kept.

Says Wrankmore: “The Val­ley Road area with its scenic horse trails and the up­per pocket of Longk­loof still have two acre prop­er­ties that are zoned as agri­cul­tural, of­ten at a third of the price of Con­stan­tia, with the added ap­peal of the con­sid­er­ably re­duced rates due to the zon­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to Lew Gef­fen, chair­man of Lew Gef­fen Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Re­alty, the thriv­ing rental mar­ket has also re­mained bul­let- proof, how­ever there is an on­go­ing a short­age of long term rental prop­er­ties avail­able.

“Many land­lords want to cap­i­talise on the short term rental mar­ket dur­ing sum­mer and of­fer their prop­er­ties for medium term lets of six to eight months dur­ing win­ter, which doesn’t suit lo­cal fam­i­lies who are drawn by the area’s laid back life­style and scenic beauty as well as the fact that Hout Bay is still the most af­ford­able of the At­lantic seaboard sub­urbs.

“The grow­ing in­flux of peo­ple mov­ing from Gaut­eng is also fu­elling the de­mand, and many of them have higher bud­gets than the lo­cals and are able to rent the up­per bracket fam­ily homes which are more of­ten avail­able on long leases.”

Wrankmore, who has just bought a beach­front prop­erty in the vil­lage, says that un­til re­cently she would not have con­sid­ered buy­ing in that area as the de­graded dunes and re­sul­tant mo­bile sand have been a ma­jor prob­lem to prop­erty own­ers for years.

How­ever, the City of Cape Town re­cently im­ple­mented a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and man­age­ment plan and Wrankmore be­lieves this will have a very pos­i­tive im­pact on prop­erty val­ues on the beach­front.

A re­cent eco­log­i­cal as­sess­ment found the dunes to be se­verely de­graded, with the chief nat­u­ral causes be­ing a com­bi­na­tion of un­usu­ally strong sum­mer east­erly and south-east­erly winds and sum­mer drought over the 2010/11 sea­son, ex­ac­er­bated by a lack of main­te­nance.

But the sin­gle most de­ci­sive fac­tor in the degra­da­tion of the dunes was dam­age caused by pedes­tri­ans, and devel­op­ment en­croach­ment onto the beach and river es­tu­ary al­lowed by dis­jointed town plan­ning has also se­verely com­pro­mised the dy­nam­ics of the mo­bile dune sys­tem and me­an­der­ing of the river mouth.

How­ever, once the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion is com­plete and if the dunes are reg­u­larly main­tained, this beau­ti­ful stretch of beach should once again be pris­tine.

Buyer in­ter­est on the beach­front in Hout Bay has surged since the City of Cape Town im­ple­mented a two-year plan to re­ha­bil­i­tate the badly eroded dunes lin­ing this sub­urb’s main beach area. Prop­er­ties such as this 10-bed­room beach­front guest­house with spa­cious re­cep­tion ar­eas and a restau­rant, which was re­cently sold for R7.5 mil­lion, sim­ply weren’t mov­ing un­til the dune re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion was ini­ti­ated.

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