Mansions, Writes Simpiwe Piliso

12th July 2010

The agents are using the soccer hype to market mansions, seaside villas and luxury apartments, stretching from Cape Town's Atlantic Seaboard to Johannesburg's exclusive Sandhurst.


Estate agents this week declined to name the international celebrities who had sent their agents to scout for beach-front hideaways in the Western Cape.


But Pam Golding Properties said a well-known, wealthy Italian and his family, in South Africa to watch the World Cup, last week contacted its Knysna office in the Eastern Cape, asking for a list of luxury properties in the seaside village.


Area manager Ling Dobson said: "We have scheduled an appointment with him to view properties with a view to purchase."


She said there had been a surge of interest for coastal property in the past few weeks, particularly by visitors from France, England, the US and Italy, searching for homes priced between R3-million and R3.5-million.


"Even just prior to the World Cup we sold a property in Knysna to a French buyer," said Dobson, adding that there had been an increase in people attending show days over recent weekends.


"Several of the potential buyers have indicated that they want to use the properties as leisure homes when visiting South Africa on holiday."


In KwaZulu-Natal, estate agents in Umhlanga have been swamped with inquiries from German visitors.


Area manager Elwyn Schenk said the Germans mostly inquired about holiday homes in the R5-million price range.


"They're interested in viewing properties located close to the beach and with sea views," she said.


Schenk said her office was assisting a Brazilian buyer looking for a holiday home in the R1.7-million price range, while a buyer from the UK was in the process of concluding the purchase of a R2-million apartment.


Sotheby's International Realty SA has been inundated with calls from its global offices for prime real estate for global jet-setters who had visited the country before, and were now interested in snapping up homes while here for the soccer tournament.


Three years ago, Alan Long, president of Sotheby's International Realty in California, flew into Cape Town in search of luxury properties on behalf of some of his group's most high-profile Californian celebrity clients.


At the time Long, who operates in the Malibu area, told the Sunday Times that it was not uncommon for such clients to buy international properties without having seen them.

He said most of his celebrity clients look for upmarket, secure homes in exclusive suburbs - and that Cape Town's Llandudno, Clifton and Bantry Bay appealed to this type of buyer, where budget was not an issue.


Another popular celebrity hideaway for international buyers is Gansbaai, a seaside village in the Western Cape. The village, once home to shipwreck survivors and gangs of abalone poachers, has been bristling with royalty, pop singers, sports icons and Hollywood movie stars.


The town, about 150km southeast of Cape Town, has used shark-cage diving as bait to attract super-rich celebrities in search of a discreet holiday destination and modest property.


Actors Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell and Christopher Lambert, singer Sting, tennis player Steffi Graf, and seven-times world Formula One champion Michael Schumacher have all slipped into the town to take a break.


In Rustenburg, where the English soccer team has been based, several potential buyers have been scouting game farms and small holdings.


Area manager Ian Straarup said: "They are looking for value for money and probably properties ranging in size from 15ha, and not necessarily in residential areas."


Pam Golding Properties chief executive Andrew Golding said the interest from foreign buyers "illustrates the high desirability of South African property. The World Cup is exposing our beautiful country to a broad cross-section of visitors for the very first time."

The company's manager in Germany, Gaby Moessner, said: "All over Europe and especially in Germany there is huge media exposure for South Africa."