Hout Bay dune rehabilitation adds to beachfront appeal
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.