Author: Hayley Ivins-Downes
Head of Digital at Lightstone Property
24 April 2021
Properties in this seaside town in South Africa are seeing demand from ‘out-of-towners’
Residential property prices in Mossel Bay, on the Cape south coast have been rising steadily over the past decade. Values across freehold, estates and sectional title all rose in 2020, despite Covid-19’s negative economic impact.
Lightstone Property data shows estates have become more popular than sectional title properties as the demand from out-of-towners continued into 2020.
Head of digital at Lightstone Property, Hayley Ivins-Downes, said: “Mossel Bay continues to be a popular destination with mature citizens.”
The Garden Route has long been a preferred alternative residential destination of choice to city life, and Covid-19 has accelerated this desire for an improved quality-of-life with a better work-life balance, she said.
“Mossel Bay has a strong reputation for sound municipal management and economic diversification. Popular industries include tourism, real-estate, business services, petrochemicals, light industry, fishing, agriculture and wine feature strongly.”
The town wants to grow the Da Nova Medical Precinct to accommodate more hospital groups and rehabilitation centres to create additional employment opportunities and promote health tourism.
Mossel Bay is 30km away from George, where a regional airport connects residents and visitors with South Africa’s small and large commerce centres. The airport also complements The Port of Mossel Bay, and together they offer significant potential for import and export directly from the southern Cape.
Purchase prices climb steadily in 2019 and 2020
“The sound economy and governance in Mossel Bay underpin the steady growth in house prices,” said Ivins-Downes. “However, although purchase prices continued to climb in 2019 and 2020, sales in these years actually declined.
The 2020 performance was better than expected given the impact of Covid-19 and the lost trading time due to the hard lockdown, but it did nevertheless follow a dip in 2019 (noting that there is a lag in Deeds Office data and the figures for 2020 are up until the end of November 2020).
There were large releases of sectional title developments in 2007 and 2008 (see above graph) and since then interest in sectional title development has been declining. Some 30% of the owners who purchased at that time still own their properties, contributing to the declining levels of transactions.
Although sales in all three categories declined in 2019 and 2020, estates and freeholdings have not fallen as sharply as sectional title deeds.
Popular choice for out-of-towners
Lightstone’s data reflected that almost as many properties were sold to incoming buyers to Mossel Bay (728) in 2020, despite Covid-19. The hard lockdown/lighter lockdown levels and a smaller scale of economic growth – as in 2019 (796) and 2018 (776).
For the first time in the three years under review, there were more new homeowners in Mossel Bay who have also retained property in other locations as well.
Those buying in Mossel Bay had homes in other provinces and the highest in 2020 was in the Western Cape (241 against 198 in 2019), versus the Eastern Cape (15 in 2020 against 12 in 2019). Most buyers in Mossel Bay are from the Western Cape, with Gauteng and the Eastern Cape 2nd and 3rd in both years.
Mature citizens dominate homeowner market
Mossel Bay’s homeowners are on the mature side, with 84% of residents being above 45 and 34% being above 65, which illustrates the importance of the retirement industry to the town. Homeowners under the age of 35 make up just 4% of the total but account for 23% of first-time buyers, while 35–45-year-olds account for 28% of first-time purchases while making up just 12% of homeowners.
“Mossel Bay’s steady year-on-year growth has shown that many smaller towns along South Africa’s coastal regions can develop their economies and create flourishing communities in which properties remain a profitable investment asset regardless of the overall market conditions,” Ivins-Downes said.
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