Business is humming in the little city of Newcastle in the north-western corner of KwaZulu-Natal – and so is its property market.
In fact, says Lee-Anne Labuschagne, manager of the local Sotheby’s International Realty franchise, there is now quite a severe shortage of residential property for sale, and demand is such that any property which does come on to the market is sold very quickly.
“In the past month, for example, we have sold 12 homes in the R850 000 to R1,2m, 10 of them to families who had been waiting to buy and only two for investment purposes.”
The main driver of the Newcastle market, she says, is the industrial activity centred on the huge Arcelor Mittal and Karbochem plants in the area, which employ thousands of people. There are also scores of textile factories in the city and hundreds of smaller manufacturing, service and retail businesses.
In addition, Newcastle is the commercial hub for the surrounding coal mines and farms, and the educational hub for the Amajuba district, with eight high schools and tertiary institutions including the Amajuba College and a Unisa campus.
“As is to be expected,” Lee-Anne says, the demand for homes is highest among families looking to settle and send their children to school here, as well as up and coming business people ready to buy their first home. There is also quite a lot of demand from people who want to upsize from a smaller to a bigger home.”
Most residential areas in Newcastle were of course originally developed to provide accommodation for employees of the old Iscor plant which evolved into Arcelor Mittal but, she notes, owners who have made the effort to improve and upgrade the old Iscor-style housing will find themselves in a favourable position now if they decide to sell.
“Sotheby’s International Realty Newcastle currently has several middle-market properties available at prices between R500 000 and R2,8m. Also very popular at the moment is the Vulintaba Country Estate, which is being developed approximately 20km outside of Newcastle and offers more than 800 stands at prices from R650 000. The big draw cards for buyers are the fact that it is located in the Drakensberg range and within a game reserve.”
Upmarket homes in areas such as Aviary Hill and Hutten Heights generally range in price from around R1,5m to R4,5m, says Lee-Anne, and there are also a number of upmarket townhouse complexes in Newcastle, with units selling in the R2m to R3m range.
“Many of these are available with the option to buy fully-furnished, which is a trend that appears to be finding favour now with higher income buyers.”
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