Area Review : Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth

Private Property South Africa
Angelique Arde

Life’s a beach – if you live in Summerstrand. It’s a perfect metaphor for this Port Elizabeth beachfront suburb. Actually, life is a beautiful, unspoiled, undeveloped beach. And though there are residential properties on the beachfront, the residents of Summerstrand have managed to keep the beach side of Marine Drive free of development – save for one.

“No one knows exactly how it got there,” chortles Carin van Eeden, a long-time resident of Summerstand. The development, Summer Seas, was built about 10 years ago and is the only one on the seaside of Marine Drive. And if residents have their way, that’s the way it will stay, says Carin.

Warm and obliging, Carin is just what you would expect of a citizen of PE, famously known as the Friendly City. And, clearly, she loves her city and her suburb. She’s the owner of Eden Estates, an estate agency that specialises in properties in Summerstrand.

Having lived in the suburb for almost 20 years and sold property there for the past 15, Carin has an intimate knowledge of the suburb. “Summerstrand offers the whole package – everything in one suburb. It’s unique in that we have a number of crèches plus two schools – one primary (Summerwood Primary) and one high (Pearson High) – both dual medium and both excellent schools. They feed the university (the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan University) which is also in Summerstrand. There’s one campus in the heart of Summerstrand and another on the southern side.”

Carin raves about Summerstrand’s “village” with its Pick ‘n Pay, pharmacies, salons, etc. “It’s really a self-sufficient suburb. Moms hardly ever have to leave Summerstrand,” she says. This is a big plus, says Carin, because if you have to travel from one end of the city to ferry children to school in Summerstrand, negotiating the traffic is a nightmare.

For wage slaves who work in the city or fly frequently, Summerstrand is a mere 10-minute drive from the city centre and the airport.

It’s a relatively young suburb, the oldest houses being about 50 to 60 years old, Carin says. She estimates that there are about 2000 houses in Summerstrand.

Formerly a predominantly Jewish community, Summerstrand has changed over the years and now reflects the demographic of the city. “It’s still very smart – one of the most affluent suburbs in PE. It’s up there with Upper Walmer and Mill Park.” There’s an even mix of Afrikaans- and English-speaking people, though a growing number of Xhosa-speaking families are moving in.

Property in Summerstrand is competitively priced. The average three-bedroom house goes for just below R2m, says Carin.

She’s right on the money. According to the South African Property Transfer Guide, the median price of a full title property in Summerstrand is R1 775 000 million. That’s based on 20 sales over the second half of 2008. The median price of sectional title properties over the same period was R1.1m based on 11 sales.

Sea view of Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth“In the very old area, below Brighton Road and near the beach, the old renovated houses can fetch up to R6m if they have wooden floors and established gardens with big trees. The rest, if priced correctly, can sell for R3m.”

Carin says that houses in Summerstrand haven’t depreciated as much as in other areas, though they are taking a long time to sell. Some houses have been on the market for up to a year, she says. “Sales have fallen off but there are more sales in the lower end of the market.” As far as stock goes, she estimates that there are between 15 and 20 houses on the market in Summerstand.

The rental market in the suburb is strong, and apparently it hasn’t been too adversely affected by the slowdown in the economy. Investors who own flats in Summerstrand will never struggle to find tenants, she says. Carin has a few investment properties herself, one of which is a one-and-a-half bedroom beachfront apartment in Summerstrand, which she lets for R4 000 a month.

“For an average Summerstand house – a 200sqm three-bedroom home with double garage – you can expect to pay a rental of about R6 000 a month. You won’t find estate agents advertising houses to let for less than R5 500 or R6 000 a month in Summerstrand.”

For many buyers and those looking to let, the proximity to the beach is what makes Summerstrand so appealing. “Our beaches are on our doorsteps, and we’re very spoilt now that the municipality is created a lovely walk way along the beachfront, which is popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists.”

Beach life is big in PE. And it’s no wonder. PE’s beaches are renowned for the water quality, facilities and security. Carin can’t help mentioning the near-perfect climate. “Because of our climate, PE is considered one of the most favourable cities in the world.” (That’s if you can handle the wind.)

If the beach doesn’t do it for you, there’s always the Humewood golf course, said to be one of the most challenging links in the world.

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