Focus on Port Alfred, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Area history

Fondly known as the heart of the sunshine coast, the small town of Port Alfred is situated equidistant from Port Elizabeth and East London in the Eastern Cape. The town was established in the early 1820s when Lord Charles Somerset moved British settlers into the area to serve as a buffer between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa people. In the early days of its establishment the town was divided into two smaller towns named Port Kowie and Port Frances. The settlers who arrived on the west bank occupied Port Kowie, while those who arrived on the east bank occupied the latter. It was in 1860, when visited by Prince Alfred, that the name was changed in his honour and the two towns combined.

Situated on the eastern seaboard at the mouth of the Kowie River, Port Alfred was the ideal location for the construction of South Africa’s first man-made harbour, which was started in 1839 and completed in 1841 by William Cock. The harbour allowed high-masted sailing ships to dock at the wharf and unload cargo.

A sandbank at the mouth of the Kowie River has made it impossible for the Port Alfred to become a major seaport, however, today the harbour still acts as a residential marina and yacht harbour. While an active commercial hub and residential town attracting many holiday makers to its shores, Port Alfred has retained its fishing village feel with a population of just fewer than 20 000 residents.

Area property information

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that the large majority of property in the area consists of freestanding homes making up 74.13% of all property in the region. The remaining property is fairly equally split between sectional title developments and estates. Due to the fact that most property in the area is freestanding homes, this type of property has consistently outsold sectional title units year after year. During 2012, 150 freestanding homes were sold compared to just 18 sectional title units.

Statistics from Lightstone, a property information provider, reveal that during 2012 the average price for a freestanding home in Port Alfred was R876 000, while the average price of a sectional title unit during the same period was R706 000. This is lower than the pricing peaks seen in the area during 2009, but is somewhat higher than the prices seen in 2010.

Over 42% of the recent sellers in the region were older than 65 years old, while 32.87% were aged between 50 and 64 years old. The highest percentage of recent buyers also fall within the 50 to 64 years old age group, this category also represents the highest percentage of existing home owners.

Property price trends

Demand for property

According to Goslett, the greatest demand for property has been those that fall within the R400 000 to R800 000 price category making up 33.8% of all property sold, followed by homes priced under the R400 000 mark. While most properties in the region are sold for under R1,5 million, demand has been seen for properties on the higher end of the market with approximately 5% of the properties sold for R3 million or greater.

Goslett says that the temperate climate and beautiful setting of Port Alfred continually attracts property investors to the area. He notes that many buyers are purchasing holiday and retirement homes because of the lifestyle offering. The area is an ideal destination for water sports and boosts a variety of hiking trails that allow residents to enjoy the vast indigenous flora and fauna the region has to offer.

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