Is Bloemfontein the next boomtown for first-time homebuyers?

Known as the City of Roses for its abundance of these flowers, Bloemfontein is attracting buyers – particularly first-home buyers – looking for a quality lifestyle.

“Bloemfontein looks to be the next boomtown. It’s appealing to buyers from Gauteng and even the Western Cape, according to recent Lightstone data,” says Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond. “Property transfers have increased significantly in the past year, up 6% from 2020, with the bulk of this activity being buyers under the age of 30.  Bloemfontein has plenty to offer young professionals and first-home buyers who want to enter the property market.”

Bloemfontein property prices are in line with those in other parts of the country, but the cost of living is generally more affordable, says Audrey Pretorius, BetterBond Regional Manager for the Free State. For first-home buyers, sectional title properties are an ideal starter-home option. According to property portal data, the number of sectional title units sold in Bloemfontein last year is almost at levels last seen in 2018, while Lightstone data shows that 57% of buyers in Bloemfontein opted for sectional title properties during this time. The average selling price of these properties was just over R900 000.  “This makes sectional title properties affordable for first-home buyers who may not have the financial reserves to cover the transfer duty required for properties of over R1 million,” notes Coetzee.

“We find that many younger buyers are not interested in large gardens which require upkeep, so they prefer sectional titles with smaller outdoor spaces that are maintained by a body corporate,” says Pretorius. Furthermore, there are many new developments, especially in the sought-after northern suburbs, which cater to young professionals. “The units are modern and new which reduces the initial maintenance required.”

Offering a range of accessible property options, Bloemfontein is also the ideal city to raise a family, says Coetzee. Data indicates that most of the recent buyers were between the ages of 18 and 49, covering the life stages from first-home ownership to investing in a family home. Pretorius says parents from Johannesburg and Pretoria who choose to send their children to prestigious schools, such as Grey College and St Andrews, buy property in Bloemfontein so that at least one of the parents can live in the area with the children during the term. “Our schools are world-class and cheaper to attend than many private schools elsewhere in the country.”

Bloemfontein provides a laid-back lifestyle with all the amenities – shopping malls, parks, and entertainment – you’d expect from a larger city. South Africa’s judicial capital is steeped in history and boasts two good universities, but it is also a family-friendly city and everything is located within a 20-minute drive, says Coetzee. Many of the students from surrounding rural areas who come to Bloemfontein to study end up working there and buying their first homes when they secure employment, adds Pretorius.

Another advantage of living in this part of South Africa is that you are surrounded by easily accessible leisure options, further boosting your quality of life. “It is so centrally located, close to many world-class destinations, like the Eastern Free State and the Drakensberg,” concludes Pretorius.

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