New buyers flock to Swartland

Young home buyers, especially first-time buyers, are flocking to smaller, more outlying towns in the Western Cape’s Boland and Overberg regions, such as Malmesbury, Wellington, Worcester, Elgin and Grabouw.
“Apart from security and an appealing lifestyle, a key element of the attraction of relocating to small towns from metropolitan areas is the proliferation of more affordable freehold homes on larger plots, ideal for young families with small children,” said Annien Borg, who heads up Pam Golding Properties in the Boland and Overberg regions.
“In Malmesbury, one of the largest towns in the Swartland, which is consistently rated as one of the best-managed municipalities in South Africa, and just over an hour from Cape Town via the upgraded dual carriageway N7 freeway, approximately a third of recent buyers were young adults (18-35 years)“ the bulk most likely first-time buyers.
“In addition, an estimated 41% of recent buyers were between 36 and 49 years, which suggests that the town appeals to families and young professionals.”
Also indicative of heightened demand for homes in Malmesbury are statistics from Lightstone which reveal that over the past decade (2012-2022), freehold prices in the town have risen by a solid 184% to a median price of R1.56 million for the year to date.
Sales of freehold homes have remained buoyant over the past 10 years, with particularly strong activity in 2021 when 183 freehold homes across the market in total were sold, which is the highest sales activity in a decade. Furthermore, the 147 vacant plots sold last year (2021) was also the largest number of sales during the same 10-year period, said Pam Golding.
Adding to the appeal of the area as a regional hub is a new 11ha mixed-use development which recently broke ground on the northern boundary of Malmesbury, adjacent to the N7 and the town”s main road. De Zwartland Werf will include a sizeable retail centre, office space, residential apartments, a 102-bed private hospital and motor showroom, the property specialist said.
The development will generate significant commercial activity in the area and is expected to boost employment while offering towns in the surrounds a much-needed space to shop, eat, work and play in a scenic setting.
According to local Pam Golding Properties area principals, Arno and Elize van der Merwe, the demand for accessibly-priced homes soared after the first, hard lockdown, when many people began working from home, seeking residences “including those in security estates “ranging from R1.4 million to R1.8 million.
“Although prices have increased in the past 18 months, Malmesbury still offers great value for money as one can buy a spacious 80sqm, two-bedroom apartment plus a lock-up garage for around R900,000 while similar properties in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs sell for around R1.3 million,” said Elize van der Merwe.
In Malmesbury two-bedroom entry-level houses sell for under R1.5 million and three-bedroom family homes for under R2 million – which is between R300,000 and R500,000 less than in the city.
“A new secure estate, Olive Place, with two and three-bedroom homes available to purchase off-plan from R1.489 million and offering modern, country living, is selling well, with 70 of the total of 90 homes already snapped up. Phase one is already sold out and phase two is partly sold or under construction,” said Arno van der Merwe.
“A key attraction in our area is country living – this well-managed town has all the essential amenities and easy access to large shopping malls like Cape Gate while enjoying a more relaxed country-type lifestyle. With the N7 upgraded to a dual road, we see a lot of people who lived in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs and work in the Milnerton/Blouberg area relocating here, as it’s now a relaxed 35-minute drive for them from Malmesbury instead of a stressful hour to hour-and-a-half drive to work.
“We also have home buyers from upcountry who want to live close to Cape Town but not in the city.”
Established schools include Swartland Primary in the centre of the town, Christelike Privaatskool Malmesbury on the edge of town close to the N7 and Mount Royal Golf & Country Estate, Schoonspruit Secondary School and Wesbank Secondary School in the suburb of Wesbank, Ilingelethu Secondary School in Ilingelethu and the well-respected Swartland High School close to the centre of town.
“Just 35km north of Malmesbury, the small town of Moorreesburg is also attracting high interest and demand for home buyers, with family homes affordably priced below R2 million, with two and three-bedroom homes averaging at around R1.75 million.”
Wellington, situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands and approximately 45 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, is another town which is benefitting from the ongoing semigration trend and ‘zoom boom’, and is drawing an influx of young and first-time buyers and families attracted by the relative affordability of homes and the lifestyle offering, said Pam Golding.
The town enjoys a very stable housing market, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of homeowners having owned their homes for 11 or more years, while nearly a fifth (19%) of homeowners have owned their homes for less than five years, suggesting an influx of new residents.
This is reinforced by the fact that 34% of recent buyers (June 2021 to May 2022) were under the age of 35 years, many of whom are likely to be first-time buyers, while a further 34% were between 36 and 49 years of age, supporting the view that the town is attracting an influx of younger people and families.
Increased demand for homes in the town is also evident in the strong increase in vacant plot sales last year (2021), with 109 registered sales, which is the highest number of plots sold since 2016 when 115 plots were sold, the property group said.
The increased demand for homes in Wellington has resulted in strong growth in the median price of freehold homes in recent years – from a median price of just R1 million in 2018, the median price of freehold homes has risen steadily in recent years, reaching R1.85 million for the year to date.