Ownership of immovable property have evolved significantly in South Africa – no longer is property ownership confined to providing accommodation but the value thereof from an investment perspective have been realised even to the extent that some property owners had become property speculators during the so-called property boom.
The global recession and the implementation of the National Credit Act locally had a significant effect on the property market – not that South African property had lost its investment value but the stricter lending criteria and the general unavailability of credit impacted on the property market as a whole.
The growth in property values flattened in South Africa albeit not to the extent it had been elsewhere in the world.  However, this stagnation of growth in property values are normally calculated and viewed on a national basis.  Despite the factors mentioned above, the Somerset West annual sales indicated positive growth throughout the decade with the exception of the 2008/2009 financial year where the growth had been 3% negative.  What is however of importance from an investment perspective is that the property values in the Somerset West area continued to climb positively throughout the recession.
The effect of the global recession and the associated local factors had not been as significant in Somerset West as had been the case elsewhere in South Africa – Somerset West continues to give safe, secure and consistent returns on owners' investment.
There are various factors contributing to the success and sustainability of the Somerset West property market, inter alia the following:
  1. Somerset West is situated in what is known as the Helderberg region of the Boland.  It is surrounded by mountains and is in close proximity to the False Bay coast.
  2. Somerset West offers a warm temperate climate which is conducive to outdoor living and associated activities.  It is also in close proximity to the many attractions and lifestyle which the Boland is known for.
  3. The area is served by upmarket shopping centres and shopping malls and is in close proximity of Cape Town and the Cape Town International Airport although not being situated underneath a flight path.  There are also world class healthcare and retirement facilities.
  4. Somerset West is surrounded by nature and nature conservation is a priority which is respected not only by the local authorities but also by the property developers who accommodate and adhere to greenbelts and heritage areas.
  5. Various hotels and guesthouses offer good value accommodation and visitors have access to the world renowned Vergelegen and Lourensford farms.
  6. The area offers various private and public schools and Somerset West is situated less than 20kms from the University of Stellenbosch.
  7. Somerset West has a cosmopolitan feel to it in that it offers something for everyone – various languages are spoken and a large contingent of foreigners have invested in property in the area.
  8. Somerset West has easy and unfretted access to all the major routes within and surrounding the Western Cape.
  9. There are various golf courses in the area including Erinvale, Somerset West, Strand, Fairview, Stellenbosch and De Zalze.
  10. Crime is a worldwide reality and South Africa is no exception.  However, crime is a factor which is being properly managed by, inter alia, well reputed security companies.  There are also various security estates and gated villages in the area.
There are a wide range of properties to choose from in the Somerset West area with prices varying between R1,2 million and R40 million.  The South African property market, in general, has experienced a revival from the beginning of 2011 and the interest in property, specifically in the Somerset West area, have grown significantly in the last few months.
Loretta Diab
Christoff Jooste
The authors have both been involved in the Somerset West property industry for more than 11 years – Loretta, as the manager of Seeff Properties Somerset West and Christoff as an attorney practicing property law with Jooste Heswick Inc Attorneys.  Perspective purchasers and sellers are welcome to contact them for any of their property related questions.