Magic of the garden route
Plettenberg Bay is still weaving its special spell. Lea Jacobs reports
THERE is and always has been something very special about Plettenberg Bay. Tucked away on the Garden Route, the area has proved to be a popular holiday destination for thousands of South Africans.
John Fuller, principal of Chas Everitt Plettenberg Bay, says the town and surrounds are still the most beautiful and natural destination in SA. “A complete lack of industrialisation and sound planning standards have resulted in the town retaining its holiday-resort status.”
He says that despite well-documented political differences, the town is extremely well run in relation to its peers.
“The streets are clear of potholes, natural areas are pristine and the town’s drinking water was recently voted as the third best in SA.”
Situated 522km from Cape Town and 104kms from George Airport, the area has, like other quieter outlying places, started to attract those looking for a more relaxed lifestyle. Fuller says the region offers far more than gorgeous beaches. “The area boasts a pristine environment with clean air and crystal-clear rivers. Visitors are spoilt for choice with a combined mix of sea, mountains, beaches and forests.”
Although Fuller says that the area has become more popular with socalled semigration buyers, the town has certainly not been flooded by buyers who live in the area and commute to major centres.
“There has, however, been a high population of thirty-something entrepreneurs migrating to Plett, and the entire Garden Route is increasing being populated by extremely creative people who have started small businesses.”
Ideal for couples with young families, Fuller says the area has two outstanding government schools.
“For new parents it’s like experiencing an education time-warp. There is parental involvement, quality education, outstanding academic standards, healthy activities, good discipline and excellent teachers at primary and high school level.”
Plett is regarded as an up-market holiday destination and Fuller says property sales in the area started dropping year-on-year as far back as 2005. He believes this is due to a decline in the number of investors who have either emigrated overseas or migrated to Cape Town.
“Consumers have moved into the fast lane and weekend getaways within 150kms of Johannesburg, on rivers, dams, in the bushveld, golf estates and game parks, have become increasingly popular with upcountry investors.”
Knowledge Factory’s SAPTG statistics indicate that 31 sales have taken place in the town over the past year. The highest price achieved for a free-standing property was R10m. There were 13 sectional-title sales and the highest price paid for a unit was just over R3,6m. The predominant price band for a free-standing property is between R2m and R5m and from R1m to R1,5m for a sectional title unit.
“There is a misconception that Plett’s prices are exorbitant,” says Fuller. “Prices have dropped quite dramatically over the past five years and are very competitive, and in most cases are cheaper than in major metropolitan areas.”
Entry-level sectional title apartments start at about R650 000. The best performing free-standing sector ranges between R1m to R2,5m, although there is demand for newer, more modern homes priced in the R3m to R5m price range.
Some sellers in the area are still overpricing their homes, although Fuller says that serious sellers are taking the advice of estate agents.
“Certain sellers continue to live in the past even though the market has changed. In many instances buyers are looking for modern properties and are keen to buy in secure estates. Offers for overpriced homes are often 30% less than the asking price. There are, however, value properties available, and cash buyers are in a strong position to negotiate.”