Focus on Somerset West, Western Cape, South Africa

Situated in the Helderberg area, approximately 30 minutes east of Cape Town, is the town of Somerset West. Bought from the local people by Dutch soldiers in 1672, the land was initially used as a cattle post. Over the years as more people settled in the area, a town developed and was named after Lord Charles Henry Somerset, an English governor of the Cape Colony during the 1800s. To avoid confusion, the suffix ‘West’ was added after 1825 to differentiate the town from Somerset East in the Eastern Cape.

Somerset West is home to the Cape Dutch style, 18th century farmhouse known as Vergelegen. The farmhouse was built on a wine farm by Willem Adriaan van der Stel, the son of Simon van der Stel. The home has been completely restored to its original luster and continues to produce some of the country’s finest wines.
Approximately 6km from Somerset West is the town of Strand with its stretch of beach that is popular with holidaymakers and residents living in Somerset West. There are also several other beaches in the proximity to Somerset West, along with a number of other amenities.

Area property information

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that the property market in Somerset West reveals some interesting figures. He notes that according to Lightstone, a property information and statistics provider, the highest percentages of recent buyers were from the 18 to 35 age group and the 65 years old and older demographic, representing 34.34% and 23.49% of buyers respectively. Buyers aged between 36 and 49 years old represented the smallest percentage of buyers in the area. “This is unique in that buyers between 36 and 49 years old are normally the most active. However, consumers aged between 36 and 49 years old did represent the highest percentage of sellers, followed by those aged between 50 and 64 years old. Goslett says that 72.54% of the existing owners and 84.38% of the recent sellers in the area have lived in Somerset West for less than five years.

He points out that the property in the area consists mostly of estates, which make up 66.34% of the market stock, while sectional title units account for 32.87% and freehold homes represent the remaining 0.79%. Freestanding homes have consistently outsold sectional title units, with the highest number of freestanding property sold during 2007, widely regarded as the height of the property boom. However, the average price of a sectional title unit was remarkably higher than the average price of a freestanding home during 2007. In fact, the average price of a sectional title unit during that year (R854 000) was the highest price achieved for that type of property to date.

Property price trends

Demand for property

Goslett says that the highest demand for property in the area is fairly equally split between homes priced from R400 000 to R800 000 and those within the R800 000 to R1.5 million price bracket, representing 38.6% and 37.4% of the total number of properties sold from January to December 2012. Homes sold for below R400 000 accounted for 12.9% of the market activity, while 11.1% of the property sold fell within the R1.5 million to R3 million category. No homes were sold for more than R3 million during 2012.

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