After a busy holiday season with an influx of visitors, the tranquil coastal town of St Francis Bay has resumed its sleepy state, but not so the residential property market, according to Richard Arderne, Pam Golding Properties area principal.
“This area has become an increasingly desirable destination for home buyers for a variety of reasons, including leisure, permanent residence and retirement. During the December-January season we saw a great deal of interest from upcountry buyers from Gauteng and Durban as well as from Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
“This has become an ideal weekend or holiday escape, with boating, golfing and a host of other activities proving a draw card. Notable is a younger generation of family buyers who have realised they can acquire a permanent residence which has it all – quality of life in a spectacularly scenic and relaxed environment with a host of co-ed schools within easy reach.”
These include St Francis College – a private school up to Grade 7 and the high schools of Nicol Malan in Humansdorp and Victory Christian School in Jeffreys Bay, as well as Woodridge College private school, a boarding school about 45 minutes’ drive from St Francis Bay. In addition, there are a number of pre-schools in St Francis Village.
All about location
Says Arderne: “But perhaps the icing on the cake for any purchaser of real estate in St Francis Bay is the choice of prime location, particularly waterfront properties on the canals. We find that most of our buyers prefer a larger frontage which provides more recreational opportunities, and which can range from seven up to 50 metres. Close access to a larger water body such as at the canal harbour or the western end of Long Island also allows for activities such as water polo or even windsurfing.
“The wider the canal the better and these spots tend to be closer to the river, which also impacts on water flow. So some properties enjoy a stronger tidal flow than others, and as a result are usually more desirable, with vacant plots achieving prices in the region of R3 million if north-facing, or R2 million if south-facing. Those planning to live here permanently often choose a north-facing position so they can enjoy a sunny home in winter.”
He says sea views are of course sought after, but come with more exposure to the east wind. While certain locations are much more sheltered than others, home design must also cater for both prevalent wind directions. Corner positions have dual frontages which are an asset as one side can be more sheltered. Access to the beach is another key factor, with plots within easy walking distance of the beach desirable, with a few on the market priced around R5 million.
“The next best are river views or views down the canals rather than just at the house directly across the water. Currently, plots with sea views fetch about R4 million while houses are priced from R10 million to R25 million. Some buyers want privacy and prefer an elevated position – with views, but many like the sociability of being closer to passing boats, or you can create privacy with landscaping and using plants for screening. Indigenous trees can also be a great asset to any plot, if well-placed where they can be retained. Examples are milkwoods, which are slow growers, or faster growers such as wild plum.
“Generally, the larger the plot the higher the value, with sizes ranging from about 400sqm to 1 500sqm and more, varying in price from R1.3 million for small, less prime sites to R7 million for a large, prime plot. As is the case in most residential areas, a quiet cul de sac is preferred to a busy road.
“And while St Francis Bay is fortunate to have a low crime rate, especially on the canals, there are a few gated estates which provide additional security, such as Marina Village, The Island, Marina Island and Admirals Isle. Here plots sell from around R1.3 million up to around R3.5 million with completed homes priced between R4 million and R16 million.”