Grape expectations: Franschhoek
Buying in the Cape Winelands makes great investment sense right now. Here’s the lowdown on Franschhoek as a property investment.
The small town at the foot of the Drakenstein mountains that has become world-renowned for its gourmet cuisine, cultural heritage, scenic beauty and award-winning wines from top estates such as Haute Cabrière, La Motte, L’Ormarins, Boschendal and Graham Beck, Franschhoek is also known for its picturesque historic homes and last year was named by The Telegraph as one of the world’s top 10 property-investment destinations.
Real Estate Opportunities
However, says Bev Malan, owner of the local Sotheby’s International Realty franchise, there is still not enough awareness of the excellent real estate opportunities available here. ‘Because of its history and continental flavour, Franschhoek was for many years a great favourite of overseas investors, with the result that many developers here pitched their offerings to those who, buying in pounds and euros, could afford – and were prepared – to pay more than all but the wealthiest SA buyers. Consequently, although Franschhoek has an award-winning tourism programme that draws thousands of local visitors a year, most of them simply assume that, attractive as the idea may be, they could never afford to buy here.’
Fortunately, says Malan, this just isn’t true any more: ‘The recession of 2008–’09 and the ongoing financial crisis in Europe have just about dried up the stream of overseas buyers and prompted many local sellers to revise their price expectations, with the result that there are now many excellent value properties to be had here.’
Living in Franschhoek
‘There is an excellent private school just on the edge of the village and the crime rate is one of the lowest in South Africa,’ adds Johan Hugo, the Rawson Property Group franchisee for the area. ‘Also, almost without exception, Franschhoek homes are in good condition and well cared for.’ Encouragingly, Germishuys claims that 90% of the properties Seeff has sold in Franschhoek lately were bought by local buyers, for R4,4 million to R7 million each. He also points out that residential vineyard estates such as La Petite Provence, which is just outside the village, and La Ferme Chantelle to the north, where properties average about R7,9 million but can go up to R11,8 million, are a good option for buyers wanting to ‘live the Winelands lifestyle without having to invest in a wine farm.’
But, for those wanting the ‘real deal’, Franschhoek vineyard estates are now selling, on average, at between R1 million to R1,2 million per hectare, a good R200 000 per hectare more than their Stellenbosch counterparts. However, for the picturesque La Providence, a 2,2 hectare boutique farm with a Cape Dutch-style manor house that overlooks a dam, tennis court and vineyard, you’ll be in for a cool R32 million.
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