The towns all along the Western Cape’s beautiful Whale Coast have seen such massive growth in real estate demand over the past 18 months that prices have risen by an average of around 15%, compared with the national average of around 4,5%.
That’s the word from Chas Everitt Whale Coast franchise owner Dean Meijer, who says three main factors have been behind this growth, with the first being the huge increase in remote working, and the resulting freedom that many breadwinners at all levels now have to live where they please, rather than necessarily close to a corporate workplace in a city.
“Places like Hermanus, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond, Onrus, Vermont, Sandbaai, Gansbaai and Stanford are real magnets for people in this position because of their beautiful scenery, great opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxed coastal lifestyle combined with proximity to a wealth of amenities such as shops, good public and private schools and excellent medical facilities.
“Not forgetting, of course, that this stretch of coast is arguably the best whale-watching area in the world.”
The second growth driver, he says, is the fact that the area still offers incoming buyers excellent value for money, despite the recent price increases. “For the price of a two-bedroom townhouse in Cape Town, for example, buyers can purchase a family home in this area, especially in the smaller towns around Hermanus.”
And then there’s the third factor, which is the Overstrand municipality, recently named as one of the best-run local authorities in SA.
“There is no doubt that good management and maintenance of roads, other public infrastructure and amenities, along with reliable service delivery by the local authority, is becoming an increasingly important issue for South Africans trying to decide where to buy their next home, and this area is attracting many new permanent residents from Cape Town and other parts of SA as a result.”
Meijer says the recent influx of new residents has substantially altered the age profile of the local population, which used to consist primarily of over-60 retirees. “Now there is a dynamic mixture of all age groups, from young couples in their 20s, through families with children and teenagers and empty nesters who are still working, to people well into their 80s.
“And not everyone relocating here is a digital or online worker, so we are also seeing all sorts of new businesses springing up, which is great news for the local economy and job creation.”
The most in-demand properties along the Whale Coast, he says, are “anything priced at less than R3m, although we have also sold 15 to 20 homes in the over-R6m category in the past year, and there is also strong interest in the luxury homes in the legacy suburbs of Hermanus and the local high-end lifestyle estates such as Hemel & Aarde and Fernkloof.
“In fact, there are now more prospective buyers across the whole price spectrum here than there are homes available for sale, and that’s a first for us in all the years we have been operating here.”
And this stock shortage also extends to the rental market, Meijer says, as many of the Airbnb units which became available for longer-term rentals in 2020 and 2021 are now being sold off by owners making the most of the current strong buyer demand and rising prices.