Why Homebuyers Are Flocking to the West Coast

Property owners in West Coast towns have experienced steady increases in value over the past 10 years, says Samantha Nel, a Western Cape area manager for Pam Golding Properties.

“From St Helena Bay and Brittania Bay on the northern shores to Yzerfontein in the south and inland towns like Darling and Vredenburg, property prices have more than doubled in many instances,” she says.

Over the past 20 years or so, the West Coast has developed from a quiet, out-of-the-way, coastal holiday destination to a thriving region with modern shopping malls, medical facilities, and excellent schools within easy reach in Vredenburg and Vredendal. St Helena Bay in the north is just 160 km from Cape Town and Yzerfontein is only an hour’s drive from the Cape Town metropolis.

Overall, residents tend to be mature - 50 to 64 years, and middle-aged – 36 to 49 years, although the latest Lightstone statistics show that the area also attracts younger buyers. And, once they have experienced the appealing West Coast lifestyle, most homeowners opt to stay, with around 50% owning their homes for 10 or more years.

Positively for the West Coast region, the Freeport Saldanha Industrial Development Zone has an anticipated R21 billion investment pipeline which includes an agreement between Sasol and ArcelorMittal SA to produce sustainable fuels and chemicals as well as green steel development, through supporting the establishment of a green hydrogen (GH2) hub in Saldanha Bay. Notably, the planned upgraded port and associated industries have resulted in an influx of younger work seekers to the region.

Says Nel: “While Saldanha sales activity rebounded after Covid, freehold sales recorded in 2021 and 2022 remain below sales numbers posted before the pandemic. In contrast, vacant plot sales registered the highest sales during the past 10 years in 2022 and plot sales so far in 2023 already match total sales in 2021.”

In St Helena Bay, median freehold sales prices increased by 153% from 2013. Prices accelerated in 2021 and 2022 but have slowed in 2023. However, the median sales price of vacant plots has risen steadily through the past decade.

“The number of freehold properties sold in this area increased noticeably in 2021 – and sales have remained elevated since then. Sales in 2021, 2022 and those already recorded this year are the highest seen during the past decade,” says Nel.

In Britannia Bay, the median price increased by around 110% over the past 10 years. Just 28% of homeowners have owned their properties for 11 or more years, while 40% have owned for less than five years. This suggests a large influx of new owners in the wake of the pandemic, says Nel.

In Darling, the median sales price for freehold homes has risen strongly in 2023 - up from R1.275 million in 2022 to R1.69 million. A massive 76% of homeowners here have owned their properties for 11 or more years.

In Langebaan, freehold prices have increased by around 86% over the past decade – and the median sales price of vacant plots by more than 200%. The median sales price of sectional title properties was hit during the pandemic but has since rebounded strongly – with sales in 2022 the highest on record during the past decade.

“Strong growth in house prices and robust sales activity in 2021 and beyond suggest that Langebaan has benefitted from lifestyle changes and ongoing semigration post-Covid,” says Nel.

In Paternoster, the median sales price of sectional title homes - with single-digit sales recorded each year - have exceeded freehold median sales prices every year over the past decade.

Says Nel: “Sales activity surged after the first year of the pandemic and remained elevated in 2022. There has also been a marked increase in vacant plot sales in 2021 and 2022. The town’s housing market has clearly benefited from lifestyle changes in the post-Covid years.”

In Velddrif freehold home and vacant plot sales surged after the pandemic and remain elevated relative to pre-Covid levels.
In Vredenburg, the majority of recent buyers are younger – with 40% middle-aged and another 30% young adults. Freehold home sales have remained largely unchanged compared to pre-pandemic levels. In contrast, vacant plot sales rose strongly in 2021 and then almost doubled in 2022, with prices increasing by around 60% from 2013.

In Yzerfontein, median sales prices have mostly risen steadily over the past decade, with strong growth in prices so far this year - particularly for sectional title homes.

Sales activity rebounded after Covid, with freehold sales in 2021 and 2022 the highest recorded during the past decade.
Concludes Nel: “Overall strong growth in property prices and robust sales activity show that the West Coast is an extremely desirable location to put down roots.”

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