Captivating charm of scenic inland hamlets lures home buyers

Pam Golding Properties provides information on all the beautiful inland areas where you could buy a home.

Not everyone aspires to live on the coast – many home buyers, including a large number of young, first-time buyers, are finding their ideal lifestyle in a variety of appealing inland hamlets around the country, says Pam Golding Properties.

New residential developments, including estates – many off-the-grid – coupled with numerous lifestyle attractions are drawing new residents to the increasingly popular and scenic town of Hoedspruit in Limpopo.

Seen as the gateway to the Kruger National Park, individuals are attracted to the region for its scenic beauty and serene lifestyle, providing an idyllic contrast to urban environments, while the surge in remote work opportunities has augmented the appeal.

Local Pam Golding Properties area principal Engela van Staden says that the opening of a state-of-the-art hospital later this year (2024), and strong rumours that Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport is anticipated to gain international status soon, add to the destination’s appeal both from a permanent residence, leisure retreat and tourism perspective.

“Buyers are predominantly motivated by a desire to escape urban living, resulting in a demand for residential property across freehold, sectional title and vacant plots for bespoke construction, as well as properties within gated estates and lifestyle or wildlife estates.

“Entry level prices start at around R1.1m for sectional title units, full title complex living from R2.4m, and homes in secure, gated estates from R2.4m, while three-bedroom homes in wildlife estates range from R3.5m,” says van Staden.

Pam Golding Properties is currently marketing two-bedroom, open-plan apartments and penthouses in Leopard’s Lane, an off-the-grid development comprising 22 units with spectacular views over the Drakensberg, starting from R2.4m including VAT. Further developments, which cater for varying price bands, range from townhouse complexes to Big Five lifestyle estates including Raptors View, Wild Rivers, Moditlo and Leadwood.

Says van Staden: “For aspiring homeowners, the entry-level pricing is appealing to first-time buyers, young couples, and speculators. For example, pricing starts from R1.9m for a two-bedroom townhouse. This trend signifies an influx of a younger, affluent demographic into the local real estate market as well as continuing the trend of longer-term real estate investors.”

According to Lightstone statistics, freehold homes in estates enjoy a price premium over freehold homes outside estates. For example, during the past 12 months to April 2024, 52 freehold homes located in estates were sold (repeat sales) at an average price of R3.41m compared to nine freehold homes outside estates which sold at an average price of R2.07m.

The market has also seen notable high-end transactions, featuring luxury residences with commanding views and vast farms open to the Greater Kruger National Park, allowing owners the opportunity to enter the tourism trade via their own eco-lodges or live in ultimate privacy and luxury. Two noteworthy farm sales recently concluded by Pam Golding Properties are a 4400ha Big Five farm, which sold for R275m, and a 1500ha going concern Big Five Lodge, which was purchased for R103m.

Says van Staden: “With the new hospital due to open towards the end of the year, new retirees see this as a viable location to retire to, while it has already brought many professional newcomers to our area acquiring homes in different segments of the market, from rental accommodation and entry-level housing to high-end homes.

“International buyers are also discovering Hoedspruit, and the recently completed Radisson Safari Hotel with 138 double rooms will undoubtedly introduce more international and local people to the area, some of whom will make it permanent.”

Adds van Staden: “Contributing to the robust demand for homes in the Hoedspruit area are various positive factors, including expanding business opportunities, an upswing in tourism, infrastructure enhancements – as apart from the new hospital, several shopping centres have sprung up – good schools and educational institutions which cater for diverse ages and subjects, including ecotourism rangers and guides, plus the possibility of an international airport. Collectively, these developments augment the desirability of this region as a lifestyle destination for foreigners and South Africans alike.

“While set in beautiful natural surrounds, this is a vibrant, cosmopolitan community, including a large farming community exporting produce worldwide. Entrepreneurs, professionals, conservationists and internationals all have a common driving force – conservation and a relaxed lifestyle. The town has an extensive security system, with 24/7 monitoring by the community, and the latest addition to our sports amenities is Padel, apparently the fastest growing sport in the world.”

Country living near the city in Malmesbury

With the N7 now a dual road, creating easy access to Cape Town and also being upgraded further northwards through to Moorreesburg, Malmesbury offers country living within reach. Good primary and high schools draw learners from far and wide, a new mall with major retailers opened in November last year (2023), and a new private hospital is currently being built; the town is enjoying an increased demand for homes.

Due for completion at the end of 2025, the Malmesbury Bypass Project involves the construction of a 7km road connecting the R45 road corridor between the N7 and R46 roads, which will create some 220 job opportunities as well as opportunities for small, medium and micro enterprises.

Say Arno and Elize van der Merwe, area principals for Pam Golding Properties: “The bulk of our home buyers are from Cape Town and elsewhere in the Western Cape, as well as from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, with the most popular price range up to around R2.5m. Freehold and gated estates are the most sought after, as the bulk of purchasers are relocating from a city environment, so prefer spacious accommodation.

“Due to the growing demand for homes, the entry-level price is currently R1.1m for a two-bedroom flat with a garage and R1.6m for a two-bedroom townhouse. Set to launch later this year is De Zaailand Estate, a new plot and plan, gated residential development, comprising 83 three-bedroom, double garage units starting at R2.5m.”

According to Lightstone statistics, 29% of recent buyers were young adults, suggesting an influx of first-time buyers to the area. However, the area is popular among all generations, including middle-aged (36-49 years), which comprised 39% of recent buyers. During the past 12 months, 69 freehold homes in estates were sold (repeat sales) at an average price of R2.33m, compared to the resale of 121 freehold homes located outside estates at an average price of R1.47m, reaffirming the premium buyers are prepared to pay for homes within estates.

Springbok draws young buyers and retirees

The largest town in the Namaqualand area in the Northern Cape and renowned for its magnificent, annual spring display of wild flowers, the flourishing town of Springbok lies on the N7 and is a popular stop-over en route to Namibia. Supported by tourism, mining activities, commerce and farming, Springbok has a small airport, several schools, including a private school, and a TVET (Technical and Vocational Education) College.

Well situated 100km from the sea and 125km from the Orange River, visitors and residents have a variety of options for camping and nature expeditions, says Val Spathelf, Pam Golding Properties area principal.

Says Spathelf: “Home buyers are mostly from Gauteng, Cape Town and mining towns such as Kathu, with relocation for work at the Gamsberg zinc mine in Aggeneys, about an hour from Springbok, being a key incentive to purchase property here. Three-bedroom, two-bathroom family homes are most in demand, priced between R1.7m and R2m, as well as farms in the R1.8m to R3.5m price range. While most of our enquiries are from those relocating for work, we also have buyers wanting to escape city life, including retirees who enjoy the peace and tranquillity here.”

This is borne out by Lightstone statistics, which reveal that the largest age cohort among stable home owners is retirees at 39%, while the two largest groups of recent buyers were middle-aged (36%) followed by young adults (33%).

Adds Spathelf: “Due to the expansion of the zinc mine, we are currently experiencing a high demand for rental properties for contractors. We are also seeing a higher demand for industrial properties to purchase.”

Young farmers returning to Underberg

Situated in the foothills of the Southern Drakensberg, the scenic Underberg region in KwaZulu-Natal continues to attract an influx of young families as well as retirees, says Pam Golding Properties area principal, Angela Walker. “Significantly, young farmers are returning after completing tertiary education to take over family farms for the next generation. This is encouraging as the farming industry forms the backbone of our economy and community, followed by tourism and supporting businesses.

“Purchasers in this area emanate mainly from Gauteng and the KwaZulu-Natal coast, with a few who have returned from the Western Cape. Retirees move here for about 10-15 years, then relocate to be nearer their families or more centrally situated, while young families want their children to enjoy the country lifestyle and find great value for money in the R1m to R2m price bracket, which can acquire freehold homes or smallholdings. They can even purchase a two-bedroom, sectional title unit for R795 000, with freestanding homes starting from around R1.3m. More mature buyers tend to buy in gated or lifestyle estates. Lightstone statistics show that 44% of stable owners are mature, followed by 32% who are retirees; however, in terms of recent buyers, 19% were young adults, 35% were middle-aged (36-49 years) and 31% were mature.

“Generally, since Covid, we’ve seen much more interest in freehold properties, such as one-acre residential properties in Himeville. The increased demand has also been prompted by the arrival of fibre, making remote working possible. Recently we are also seeing some interest from international buyers, which is not surprising as this is a beautiful environment with an abundance of outdoor activities and a strong, caring community,” adds Walker.

Underberg is famous for trout fishing with three main rivers as well as many well-stocked trout dams shared by local farmers. Schools included Underberg Primary School, which is well supported, at full capacity with dedicated staff and teachers, and Faithway Christian School – a private school, takes students to matric, while other parents elect to send their children to high schools in nearby Howick, Hilton and Pietermaritzburg as weekly boarders.

In the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, appealing areas such as Howick, Dargle, Hilton, Merrivale Heights, Nottingham Road, Lynnfield Park, Ashburton and Camperdown attract a diverse demographic of home buyers, with many relocating from urban areas seeking a more tranquil lifestyle while still enjoying proximity to essential amenities including hospitals and good schools. Easy access to the Drakensberg Mountains and numerous outdoor activities are also major drawcards, says Pam Golding Properties area principal, Belinda Driemeyer.

“Part of the Midlands Meander, Howick is favoured among a large contingent of retirees, with home buyers moving there from all over South Africa as well as globally, including expats looking to return here or to purchase a property for their parents. Sectional title homes are most in demand, having comfortably exceeded freehold sales each year for the past decade – despite accounting for less than half of the housing stock. The popular price range is from R1.2m to R1.5m. With excellent medical facilities, for families with children nearby private schools include Hilton College, Michaelhouse, St Anne’s Diocesan College, and for primary school children, Cowan House.

“Hilton is attracting a younger set of home buyers, especially professionals with families, as the schooling options, both private and government, are good for boys and girls. The general trend is towards gated estates like Garlington, The Gates, Castle View and Jacana, as well as smaller estates or complexes with good sized properties such as Broadacres, Cresthaven, Fernridge, Quarters, Milnerdale, Shepstone Place and Eastgate. Apart from all the good schools, from pre-primary to high school, Hilton Life Hospital has attracted medical practitioners to the area, as well as other home buyers.”

Convenient to the N3, with Durban an hour-and-a-half away and Johannesburg a four-and-a-half hour’s drive, charming Nottingham Road, en route to the Drakensberg on the Midlands Meander, draws buyers mainly from Johannesburg, the Free State and Durban wanting to escape city life – especially for their children, or to retire to. Driemeyer says the most popular price for freehold and sectional title homes and lifestyle properties is R3m, and vacant residential land is between R1m and R2m. “However, homes can sell up to R12m with some sales from R15m to R30m and farms up to R100m. With many semigrants able to work from home, or commute as required, they are buying because of the security of the area, outdoor activities such as fly fishing, cycling, hiking and golf, and the beauty and tranquillity of the mountains. The area is also water-rich with rivers, dams and lush green grasslands.

“Home buyers in Lynnfield Park, Ashburton and Camperdown attract a similar varied mix of purchasers, coupled with the strategic location, with easy access to major routes, Pietermaritzburg Airport and essential amenities. Recent sales include smallholdings ranging from R2.7m to R4.25m, with entry-level homes for young couples typically starting at around R1.25m, albeit limited in availability.”

Tzaneen drawing first-time buyers

At the foot of the Northern Drakensberg in Limpopo, between Polokwane and Hoedspruit and with access to each of these town’s airports and good medical care, lies the bustling and scenic town of Tzaneen. Surrounded by lush vegetation and with abundant rainfall, numerous agricultural enterprises and good schools, home buyers are mostly local first-time purchasers.

Dawie Venter, area principal for Pam Golding Properties, says the demand for residential property has increased as prices are affordable. They range between R1.5m and R2.5m, with freehold homes in security complexes the most popular.

Schools include Merensky Agricultural School and Tzaneen Primary School, while the area is home to Tzaneen and Magoebaskloof Dams, the Modjadji Nature Reserve, and a number of private game reserves, while Kruger National Park is only 100 km away.

Adds Venter: “Another sought-after location is the picturesque village of Haenertsburg, just 38km from Tzaneen via the winding Magoebaskloof Pass, en route to the Kruger National Park. With colourful orchards, coffee shops and restaurants, and a lively arts and crafts industry, property prices for homes, smallholdings and farms range from approximately R1m to R15m.


Issued by Gaye de Villiers

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