We continue our focus on major residential properties in South Africa this week.
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In this episode of The Property Pod, I speak with an Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer.
No, we have not changed this series to a sports podcast. You might have guessed it: we have none other than Ryk Neethling as a guest on our latest podcast.
Who could forget that South Africa beat the United States for gold in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay final at the 2004 Olympics?
Well, for the past few years Neethling has been a shareholder and chief marketing officer for the Val de Vie Estate in the Cape Winelands. The sprawling estate that includes Pearl Valley is rated as one of the best residential developments in South Africa.
Neethling shares ideas about his involvement in the historic real estate project and the latest developments on the estate.
The highlights of her interview appear below. You can also listen to the full podcast above or download it from iono, Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
“I have been involved [with Val de Vie] for just over a decade. I think the time of the last six years flew by when we bought Pearl Valley and the land that was supposed to be Pearl Valley Phase Two. We bought that in 2014 and since then things really took off. ”
“The first few years were very slow right after the global credit crisis when, I think in the year I joined, we sold a developer booth year-round. So it was quite a difficult time, but it was also a good time to start. ”
“After receiving my degree from the University of Arizona in the United States, I worked in commercial real estate development for three years.”
“So when I met Martin [Venter], who was one of the first five employees at Atterbury [Property Cape] In the early 2000s, we really connected … We had this kind of passion and shared experience in commercial real estate development, and I fell in love with Val de Vie. So it was very early. I think there were 28 households. ”
“Today we have a little less than 2,000 households. I really believed in his vision and, like I said, the first few years were pretty slow. ”
“People warned me and said they didn’t think Val de Vie would make it. It was in the days of estates like Gardener Ross, which is now Copper Leaf; There were quite a few properties that went bankrupt in those days. ”
“I think there are some things that helped Val de Vie to get ahead. We started winning awards here around 2014. The market recovered and we literally haven’t looked back since. ”
“Safety is by far our biggest focus, and all buyers are looking for that … We bought the land from Standard Bank, which was to be Phase Two of Pearl Valley, and began development around 2015. We bought Pearl Valley in 2015 and we have been very lucky ”.
“I think last year was also incredible. Obviously, there was a lot of uncertainty during the lockdown when we didn’t know which path it would take, but I think our repositioning as a wellness property has been extremely serendipitous for us.
“The looting that happened in the rest of the country and the ruined municipal infrastructure has really pushed people to this part of the country, and we’ve been fortunate to really benefit from that.”
“I also just want to say that I think a lot of people are looking to leave the country, but at least 20% of our inquiries and our buyers come from people returning after 10 years or more abroad, or from international people who have never lived in South Africa and are moving here. ”
“That is always a bright spot and a positive sign that despite all the pessimism in the local market, people still want to move here.”
“In the last 12 months, I think we are in sales worth about R2.5 billion [in the estate]. That includes resales.
“It just shows you how strong the market is. As I am speaking to you, there is not a single house available to rent on this farm with just under 2000 properties. ”
“Obviously that causes a lot of price increases and capital growth. In a sense, it’s getting out of its market a bit, but since last year this time we’ve seen 35% equity growth in some of the properties and homes.
“On land it is even more than that. So yeah, it’s been good. We are talking about a perfect storm, all these factors now intervene with interest rates raised a little. We will see how that affects [things]But it’s been a good 18-24 months. ”
What are the latest news from the farm?
“We just launched our luxury suites at Evergreen Retirement Village, where we will [offer] about 200 suites, luxury apartment living.
“We have 137 finished houses that have all been sold. In fact, we only have one home available at Evergreen Retirement Village. We are building 60 homes to be completed in March [as part of the next phase], and then the apartments. ”
“I think the beauty of the green town of Val de Vie is that it is in the heart of the farm. So it is not in a corner of some place where retired people live. It is literally in the heart; Unbelievably, we are looking at the whole concept of multigenerational living, where grandchildren are very close to grandparents and I think retirees are really part of the community.
“It is on the basis of the rights of life, but the people who have accepted this concept are our greatest ambassadors.
“We have a few more houses to build. We have 60 homes that will be completed in March, but I think the Paarl / Franschhoek Valley is quickly becoming a center for retirement. ”
What is the approximate figure of development that has taken place in Val de Vie since its initial establishment and what makes the estate special?
“We estimate around 1.5 billion rand of infrastructure that has gone into, let’s say, bulk infrastructure, and also facilities.”
“[Then] we’re looking at around R2 billion [for] all homes. We have about 1,800 units. The median house price is around R10 million. So we are looking at around R3 billion in total. ”
“I think it’s a combination of the incredible vision that was shown in the early days … This used to be an old mine quarry that was turned into this beautiful farm, really bringing life back to this land that was mined.”
“Obviously [there are] ALL THE FACILITIES. I think what makes us different is that everything is authentic. We have one of the largest polo clubs in Africa; obviously the golf club is very well supported. Then [it’s] everything we do.
“The [estate’s] Wine Cellar is one of the largest wine exporters to the Far East. So everything we do is really authentic. ”
Tell us more about the trend of semi-migration to Cape Winelands and who is shopping in Val de Vie.
“We have seen incredible interest from KZN. I think it is taking those families a little longer to make the change, because their roots are deeply rooted in KZN. We had a case where there were 10 families who came together to move the 10 families here. That shows you the scope. ”
“In October and November, our hotel was full of people from KZN who would come over the weekend, stay here and then pick up stalls. So it’s definitely been a big part of the market. ”
“But I think the biggest market for us right now is people moving from Cape Town, out of the city. That’s just the global trend if you look at all the big cities. ”
“In a post-Covid world, people move simply because they don’t have to go to the office every day. The work-from-home trend has also benefited us a lot. People can work here. Maybe they go into town once or twice a week, outside of peak hours, where it only takes you 35 minutes to get into town and you don’t have to go at seven in the morning. ”
“People moving from the southern suburbs, the Atlantic coast and the city bowl here have been our largest market. And then obviously also from Gauteng. ”
“I think Winelands will really benefit from this. You see some interesting developments like the Fisantekraal airfield [Cape Winelands Airport development]; they’re looking to turn that into a Cape Lanseria. Very exciting. There is a smart city plan here in Klapmuts, which is very close to us. ”
“So there are some [happenings] for the whole area, for the Cape Winelands. To really benefit from that, we have the Green School, which is located in an international concept school that opened right outside our door. This is an exciting time for the Cape Winelands. ”
“I think one-dimensional farms like the old typical golf farm where it’s only golf; I think the days of those farms are over. People want more deals, more options, and we can see that for ourselves and in the sales of other wellness properties around the world. ”