Magic of the gar­den route

Plet­ten­berg Bay is still weav­ing its spe­cial spell. Lea Ja­cobs re­ports

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

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.”

Pic­ture: SA TOURISM

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