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Set against a spectacular backdrop of mountains and awe-inspiring natural beauty, the Cape Winelands are internationally renowned for their excellent wine production, hospitality industry, and world-class tourism hot spots, attracting both local and overseas investors

WORDS:HELÉNE MEISSENHEIMER – IMAGES: SUPPLIED

As the iconic image of living the South African dream, estate living in the Cape Winelands continues to attract a high level of interest across the buyer spectrum.

Owning a property in the Winelands is an aspirational goal for everyone from overseas property investors to city-dwelling families looking for a safer and more tranquil space and retirees wanting to downscale to picturesque lifestyle villages.

A popular retirement spot due to its unrivalled scenery, the Cape Winelands also offer estate living on multigenerational developments with adjacent retirement villages, golf and country estates as well as smaller boutique estates.

Choice

It would be a mistake, however, to think that living in the Winelands is a possibility only for the ultra-rich.

On offer is everything from modest two-bedroom apartments to freestanding homes and smallholdings to accommodate buyers with a penchant for country living.

In line with changing global trends as reported by New World Wealth, local developers are also creating small neighbourhoods within these estates. This allows for more open spaces and parklands, unlike the old model where homes were spaced evenly throughout an entire property.

Solid investment

Perennially popular, lifestyle estates are proving to be a secure property investment option that’s sought after in these uncertain times. According to Chris Cilliers, CEO and co-principal, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands, the estate sector has remained fairly constant over the past two years.

This is confirmed by the AfrAsia Bank’s SA Wealth Report for 2019, which indicates that the Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch districts saw growth of 21% in the area’s wealth markets over the past decade.

Property experts predict that lifestyle estates will continue to draw buyer interest despite economic and political uncertainty. Andrew Golding, chief executive, Pam Golding Property group, highlights an increasing demand for homes in secure lifestyle estates as one of the trends evident in the marketplace as lockdown restrictions eased.

Playground of the rich

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Owning a Cape Winelands property has long been viewed as a mark of personal and financial success. Residential estate living is also a growing trend among the affluent. New World Wealth estimates that more than 40% of South African high net worth individuals (HNWIs) live in or own homes in residential estates, says Pam Golding Properties senior research analyst Sandra Gordon.

A consistent high level of buyer interest in the Cape Winelands lifestyle estates has also been reported. According to Ryk Neethling, marketing director, Val de Vie multigenerational estate near Paarl, projections indicate that it will be a good year for sales especially at the higher end of the market, as Val de Vie‘s premium properties have had the biggest increase in sales volumes.

Appealing lifestyle

It’s easy to see why living on an estate development in the Winelands is desirable. On offer is a high-quality lifestyle on a spacious and secure property surrounded by scenic beauty, close to a range of top amenities such as schools, shops, entertainment options and a variety of outdoor activities.

According to Cilliers, in recent years families have been choosing to leave Cape Town’s bustling suburbs in favour of more peaceful estate living in the Winelands. They are attracted by the good schools in the area, combined with easy access to the CBD and Cape Town International Airport.

“Convenience and on-site amenities are also a growing priority. The better lifestyle estates offer excellent sports and fitness facilities, cycling and hiking trails, gyms, clubhouses and even schools,” adds Cilliers.

Modern benefits like a fast internet connection add to the appeal for the growing number of people who are choosing to continue working from home following the lockdown.

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Convenience and on-site amenities are a growing priority for lifestyle estates Chris Cilliers, CEO and co-principal, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, Winelands

Hot spots

The area between the historic town of Stellenbosch and adjacent Somerset West, between the mountains and False Bay, has seen prolific development of lifestyle estates in recent years. Prices range from an affordable R1,75m (including VAT) for a two-bedroom house to over R30m for an uber-luxury home.

Buyers seeking the ultimate lifestyle are spoilt for choice at established estates such as De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate and Welgevonden Estate in Stellenbosch and Schonnenberg in Somerset West and new developments such as Vini Fera at Anura and Welgegund Domaine Privé in Stellenbosch and Mzuri Estate and Croydon Gardens Estate in Somerset West, says Katya Varga, assistant branch and projects manager for Pam Golding Properties Stellenbosch and Somerset West.

Buyers here include locals and the occasional international investor, whereas multigenerational estates such as Val de Vie are proving attractive to families, mainly from Cape Town, who are looking for a less stressful environment.

Neethling says a new feature on the estate is the addition of office blocks on site that are available for residents to rent or share. This is to accommodate the growing trend of de-urbanisation and remote working.

Franschhoek valley

Buyers from Cape Town and Gauteng are also relocating to lifestyle estates in Wellington and Franschhoek. The latter is a popular destination especially for European “swallows” who come to stay for up to six months to savour the fine selection of world-class wineries, restaurants and wine estates in the area. Franschhoek offers a number of smaller high-end boutique security estates such as L’Ermitage Chateaux & Villas, a luxury lifestyle estate with spacious two-bedroom villas in a French-inspired country village setting.

According to Surina du Toit, Pam Golding Properties branch manager for Paarl, Wellington, Franschhoek and Elgin, more than 50% of the annual residential sales in Franschhoek are properties in security estates.

Excellent return on investment

Security estates are among the property investments that can show substantial price growth in the current economic climate and buyers are willing to dig deep for the privilege of living in one, especially if it’s located in the exquisite and sought after Cape Winelands area. Lightstone Property reports that selling prices for sectional title homes in the Winelands increased by 152% over the past seven years, from R1,05m in 2012 to R2,65m in 2019.

For the luxury of a quality lifestyle and top security in a world-class location, buyers are often prepared to pay a premium of 20% to 40%, says Samuel Seeff, chairman, Seeff Property Group.

According to him, it’s not uncommon for top homes to sell for between R5m and R20m and even much more, especially in high-end country estates in the Constantia Valley and in the Winelands towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl.

The rental market is strong, too, but the average monthly rental rate varies greatly depending on demand and the availability of apartments for rent, explains Werner Scheffer, Multi Spectrum Property (MSP) Development sales manager. For instance, in Somerset West a two-bedroom apartment in the boutique Acorn Creek Lifestyle Estate priced at R1,099,900 can achieve a monthly rental of R8,500 – a gross yield of 9.2% and a net yield of 7.4% after monthly levies and rates and taxes.

In Franschhoek even higher rental rates of between R16,500 and R20,000 per month can be achieved for a good quality two-bedroom apartment.

This is because there’s a huge demand for rental properties in the town and the scarcity has increased rentals substantially, says Gerhard Jooste, general manager of new developments for IGrow Wealth Investments, the developers of L’Ermitage Chateau & Villas. Jooste says owners here have seen rental income in excess of R20,000 per month, with returns of 8.5% and higher. “But what attracted many investors is the capital growth of 152% over the past seven years,” he says.

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