Small 'Zoom' towns within reach of Cape Town increasingly attractive to home buyers

Many people are looking to move away from their traditional offices in big cities and into permanently remote working scenarios.
Many people are looking to move away from their traditional offices in big cities and into permanently remote working scenarios.
  • Smaller towns in the Western Cape, which offer easy access to Cape Town, are attracting more attention from home buyers.
  • Generally, the major demand is for homes priced between R2 million and R3 million.
  • Many people are looking to move away from their traditional offices in big cities and into permanently remote working scenarios.


Smaller towns in the Western Cape like Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Bettys Bay, Kleinmond, Malmesbury, Hermanus, Onrus and Gansbaai, which offer easy access to Cape Town, are attracting home buyers from the rest of the rest of the province as well as from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

"Since the lockdown began, buyers have seen the value offered in 'Zoom' towns, and are snapping up seafront properties," says Nicola Lloyd of Pam Golding Properties.

"Many of our buyers have always wanted to live here, but had only been able to consider it as a retirement dream and so made do with visiting on weekends and holidays. Now, however, they see these towns as permanent residential locations as they are able to work remotely."

Furthermore, Cape Town International Airport is about 90km away.

Generally, the major demand is for homes priced between R2 million and R3 million. A home in Pringle Bay was recently sold for R9.5 million, a home in Roo Els fetched R6.15 million, one in Kleinmond went for R5.6 million and one in Bettys Bay was sold for R5.5 million in Bettys Bay.

Annien Borg of Pam Golding Properties in the Boland and Overberg regions, says towns such as Hermanus and Onrus offer all the necessary amenities for buyers of all ages to live in these towns permanently, such as good schools, medical facilities, shopping centres and enough attractions to please the outdoor enthusiast and those who enjoy a culinary experience.

According to Borg, in the greater Hermanus area, in the villages of Onrus, Vermont and Sandbaai, vacant land is priced between R600 000 and R3 million, apartments start at R1 million, while homes range from R2 million for a two-bedroom house to R16 million for a beachfront villa. 

In Hermanus itself, freehold vacant land starts from R1.2 million to approximately R3.5 million, however, we currently have for sale a vacant plot of about 7 000sqm on the seafront priced at R50 million. Apartments range from around R700 000 for two bedrooms up to R10 million for a three-bedroom apartment at the upmarket Birkenhead condominium complex. Houses are priced from R2.4 million for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home to around R40 million for a seafront home.

Enquiries have also been received from potential buyers in the UK and Dubai.

Even before Covid-19 struck, the movement towards working from home had been slowly gaining momentum globally, as many corporates looked towards ways to alleviate transportation challenges for their employees, especially long hours spent in traffic, and increase quality time with their families, according to Carl Coetzee, CEO of bond originator BetterBond.

"What the pandemic has done, however, is fast-forward this movement significantly along its timeline, with scores more desk-bound office workers and the companies they work for realising that, thanks to advancements in technology in recent years, work-from-home scenarios can now be the norm rather than the exception," he explains.

The result in the residential market is that many people are now looking towards so-called "semigration" to take them away from their traditional offices in big cities and into permanently remote working scenarios. Coetzee says they're doing this not only to change their work habits but to take them to better lifestyles in smaller towns, especially along South Africa's coastal regions.

"First of all, there is the necessity of social distancing because of Covid-19, which has enabled the realisation that it is very possible for many people to work from home. That has no doubt been the trigger. But, secondly, we are also consequently experiencing 50-year, record-low interest rates, which means that home loans are more accessible than they have been for a long time to a wider range of buyers," says Coetzee.

"Thirdly, and of particular significance with regards to 'resort' destinations such as coastal towns, is that the holiday home market hit a decline earlier this year, with many homes coming onto the market as Covid-19 took its course. This has provided enormous opportunity for those looking to buy these properties now as full-time, live-in homes, and work long-distance in environments very different from those of big cities like Johannesburg."

The semigration movement is also seeing a reinvigoration of many coastal towns themselves, inhabited largely in the past by retirees, and which are now experiencing an influx of younger families who in the past were tied logistically to lives in big cities.

* Compiled by Carin Smith


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