Area Review: Fresnaye

Private Property South Africa
Angelique Arde

Fresnaye. None of my friends live in Fresnaye. It’s posh. Nay, it’s you’ve-arrived posh.

I can’t get anyone who lives in Fresnaye to talk to me about what it’s like to live in Fresnaye because people at this level of poshness pride themselves on being discreet. I get it. They don’t want to end up like poor Lotto ‘winner’ Stanley Philander, who got mobbed by his family and friends when they found out he was in the money. Maybe the folks in Fresnaye have that problem. So, in estate agent speak, property in Fresnaye is “sought-after” and “highly desirable”. Well, of course it is! It’s perched on the slopes of Lion’s Head, looking down its nose at Sea Point. (The sea views are awesome.) It’s in a wind-free spot on Cape Town’s ever-exclusive Atlantic Seaboard, bordering on Bantry Bay. Nice. Its five minutes from the city centre, the V&A Waterfront and the new Green Point Stadium. Camps Bay and Clifton are around the corner. If that’s not highly desirable, I don’t know what is. Make no mistake, Fresnaye’s up there with the best of them.

According to Lightstone property specialists, out of 5223 suburbs in South Africa, property in Fresnaye ranks 17th in the freehold category. Camps Bay comes in 12th place ahead of Westcliff (13), Constantia (in the Western Cape) and Dunkeld in 15th place. Zimbali and Umhlanga Ridge do their province proud, at 19th and 21st place respectively. Basically, what this means is that unless you’re in the R4 million market, perish the thought of a property in Fresnaye. Estate agent Rob Stefanutto says an entry-level property in Fresnaye will set you back about R3.7m. Stafanutto, who works for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says houses in the suburb sell for up to R20m. “Recently we sold a house in Avenue des Huguenots for R4.2m. There’s a big demand for houses in Fresnaye,” he says. Demand must be high, because the agency has only “10 or 12” Fresnaye properties for sale at the moment. The suburb has only 1588 properties, according to Lightstone. Freehold property constitutes 63% of market stock and sectional title properties make up the balance. “Stand sizes range from between 350sqm to 1000sqm, plus. And dwellings are anything from 100sqm for smallish cottages to homes larger than 1000sqm. There aren’t any apartment blocks in the avenues, which are long and beautiful.” Stefanutto, who grew up in Fresnaye, describes the suburb as “family oriented, safe and peaceful”. He says it’s cosmopolitan but less so than Bantry Bay.

Over the years he has seen the suburb change, with many small houses demolished to make way for larger abodes. “There’s actually a shortage of smaller homes in Fresnaye,” he says. “Property in Fresnaye’s an excellent investment. But you aren’t going to get a bargain in Fresnaye. It’s not that kind of suburb.” According to Deeds Office data only eight Fresnaye properties have changed hands so far this year: five freehold and three sectional title. Freehold properties sold for an average of R7.6m and sectional title properties fetched R1.6m on average. In 2004, the average price of a freehold property in Fresnaye was R2.8m. In six years, that’s a handsome appreciation of 22% per year. Stefanutto says there’s a big market for rental property in Fresnaye. “Our cheapest is R15000 and the most expensive is R80k.”

A “modern and spacious” three-bedroom house with two bathrooms and a garage advertised on Gumtree is yours for R24000 a month. It doesn’t look like anything special, but it’s in Fresnaye. Over on another property letting website, you’ll find the range: a stunning three-bedroom, three-bathroom home, with parking for two cars, for R33000 a month and a stylish newly renovated two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment for R10 000 a month. Stefanutto says Fresnaye is attractive to a lot of young families who tend to stay in the suburb and buy up in line with their needs and, no doubt, spending power. Looking at tenure of owners, Lightstone’s suburb report shows that Fresnaye has a high percentage of stable owners: 37% of owners have held on to their properties for 11 years or more. It’s telling – and unsurprising. Once you’re in the market in Fresnaye, you wouldn’t want to leave.

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