A Six-Bed Retreat in South Africa’s Wine Country
$1.7 MILLION (25 MILLION SOUTH AFRICAN RAND)
This six-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath house is in Constantia, a leafy suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, in the foothills of Table Mountain National Park, near the Atlantic coast.
Set in the Constantia Valley, the suburb offers easy access to both Cape Town and the region’s historic wine estates. The grounds of this 8,450-square-foot, one-story house, built in 2011, have been elevated to afford views of the Constantia Greenbelt, a popular natural recreation area, as well as Constantiaberg mountain to the south and Table Mountain to the north.
Cheryl Teubes, the listing agent for Greeff Properties, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, said that among upmarket residences, “there’s not another one like it in our neck of the woods.”
The current owners designed the house with the architect Philip Briel, creating a U-shaped lodge around a square swimming pool. The east wing contains the master bedroom suite with a wood-burning fireplace, study and terrace, and his-and-hers dressing rooms. A free-standing tub behind French doors opening to the outside is the main feature of the bath, which also includes a double rainfall shower.
The west wing contains the common areas and staff quarters. The country-style, eat-in kitchen has custom cabinets and Zimbabwean black-granite counters. Adjacent are a large scullery and a separate television room. The two-bedroom staff suite is separated by a small courtyard and has its own garden.
Centered around a wood-burning fireplace, the open-plan living and dining area leads out to the veranda, which is set up for entertaining with a stone pizza oven, gas grill and a built-in stone braai, the traditional South African grill.
Four en suite bedrooms line the passageway connecting the two wings, each having access to the veranda through French doors. A sixth en suite bedroom is on the garden level.
The house has solar panels and an ultraviolet water filtration system. The 0.72-acre plot includes ornamental gardens and ponds, and an organic vegetable garden on the terraced walls. A covered carport accommodates five cars.
Mr. Briel said the owners wanted a house “reminiscent of a farmhouse in East Africa, as that’s their heritage.” Constructed of locally sourced stone, the house “was built from scratch but in a way to make it feel aged slightly and settled in,” he said. In the interior, that was accomplished with reclaimed wood for the trimmings, floors and ceilings, and a specially mixed paint of organic pigments and cement.
In an email, the owner, who is Zimbabwean, said, “Our choices behind the natural elements were about the need for the home to blend into its natural environment” and feel as though it has been “settled in for a long time.”
The property is a 20-minute drive from central Cape Town, South African’s legislative capital, with a metro population of about 4 million residents. Cape Town International Airport is about 16 miles east, and the Atlantic Ocean is about six miles west.
Following a boom from 2000 to 2006, the South African housing market sank after the global financial crisis, with tighter restrictions imposed on borrowers as part of the 2007 National Credit Act, according to globalpropertyguide.com. Overall, prices fell 4.8 percent over the subsequent decade.
Recovery has been uneven: Despite an upward trend in home prices between 2011 and 2018, data published by South African Statistics reported a slump in the economy for the first quarter of 2019, with a 3.2 percent overall contraction — the largest in a decade. Concern over a land expropriation controversy further suppressed the market, but a new amendment to South Africa’s constitution introduced this spring proposed a clarification about the lands under scrutiny, and while the amendments are still to be approved, the move, in tandem with the May national elections, restored some confidence to the market.
Andrew Golding, chief executive of Pam Golding Properties in South Africa, said the housing market “is beginning to get out of very low growth.” Since the elections in May, he said, “We are starting to see a steady but slow resurgence on the back of a much-improved political situation, which has stabilized an economic situation that, while it hasn’t materialized yet, is full of hope and promise.”
Richard Hardie, C.E.O. of Knight Frank South Africa, agreed, saying that while the market has been “quite depressed” recently, “many people view that we’re at the bottom of that and we are just seeing the ‘green shoots’ of that market turning.”
For the past 18 months, he said, supply across South Africa has outflanked demand, especially with more South Africans selling and leaving the country. But since the election, that gap has narrowed slightly, as sellers have begun withdrawing properties from the market that they had listed during less stable times, according to First National Bank’s 2019 third-quarter property report.
The report also notes that while the 3.8 percent year-to-year price growth in 2019 remains below inflation (4.3 percent), “improvements in demand and progressive mortgage rates” are promising.
Mr. Golding said “the value for money is extraordinary in South Africa” right now.
“We generally work on a factor of 10, so we say if you’re from the U.S., what you would pay $10 million for is what you’re going to get for $1 million in Cape Town, and that is everything from a four-bedroom home with a pool and garden in a typical suburb to an oceanfront apartment or a residential golf course property,” he said.
Secure or gated estates are popular, as are homes along the Atlantic seaboard and green suburbs such as Constantia and Hout Bay. Mr. Hardie noted that queries for properties outside the city are on the rise, from village communities to vineyards. “A good average price that people seem to be happy to spend it is around 15 million rand ($1.02 million),” he said.
Who Buys in Cape Town
One of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, Cape Town attracts foreign buyers for its natural beauty, cosmopolitan offerings and temperate weather.
Foreign purchases peaked in 2016 at 5.72 percent of total home-buying and fell to 2.98 percent in the last quarter of 2018. First National Bank’s most recent agent survey reports a rise to 3.74 percent in the second quarter of 2019, with coastal properties seeing an uptick in foreign buying.
Siphamandla Mkhwanazi, an economist with First National Bank, said foreigners, who in the second quarter of this year represented 6.5 percent of sales in Cape Town (down from a high of 10.7 percent in the second quarter of 2018), “are finding bargains in the currently oversupplied market.”
“We are seeing a steady rise driven by attractive prices at the moment, with buyers getting good deals,” he said. The bank’s survey reported that buyers from the African continent account for 24.5 percent of foreign purchases. Mr. Golding said Cape Town’s private schools attract such buyers.
Northern Europeans, especially from Britain, have long purchased in the Western Cape region. Mr. Golding said he is fielding more queries from Asian buyers, who are replacing the historic buying trend from Germany.
Both Mr. Golding and Mr. Hardie noted an increase in “swallows” — people who live in the country seasonally as partial or full retirees. Additionally, Mr. Hardie said, “We’ve noticed a few more Americans looking just because there’s that direct line from New York to Cape Town starting in November.”
There are no restrictions for nonresidents acquiring immovable property in South Africa, said Nicolette Joubert, a partner in Debra Gouws Attorneys, a Cape Town firm specializing in real estate.
If they comply with a lender’s criteria, nonresidents can obtain financing up to 50 percent of the purchase price from a South African bank with relative ease. While deposits commonly are 10 to 20 percent of the purchase price, a nonresident purchaser might be required to supply up to 50 percent, Ms. Joubert said.
In South Africa, a conveyance or transfer attorney represents the seller, but will assist both seller and buyer throughout the process. The attorney attends to the registration of mortgage bonds, deed registration and other formalities. Should a conflict arise, the purchaser generally obtains its own representation. Further, Ms. Joubert advised, “the purchaser may wish to undertake a due diligence of the conditions pertaining to the property.”
The transfer process can take between six and eight weeks from the date the sale agreement is signed.
Languages and Currency
South Africa has 11 official languages. English and Afrikaans are widely spoken.
South African rand (1 rand = $0.07)
Taxes and Fees
The buyer pays the transfer duty (up to 13 percent, depending on property value), as well as the lawyer’s conveyance fee (0.10 to 1 percent) and the registration fee of about 0.10 percent. The seller pays the real estate agent fees of about 7.5 percent. Buyer and seller pay 15 percent VAT in the fees for which they are responsible.
The taxes on this property are an estimated 120,000 rand ($8,200) a year.
Cheryl Teubes, Greeff Properties; +27 21 763 4120