Area Review - Hout Bay

Private Property South Africa
Angelique Arde
Hout Bay Property

Given all that Hout Bay has to offer, you’d expect the locals to be more than just a tad smug about where they live. Yet Hout Bay folk are a warm and civic-minded lot. And they love “the village”, as it is affectionately known.

In fact, they so love it that some 20 years ago they declared themselves a republic and if you nip down to “The Consulate” – next door to Bali Bali, the swimsuit shop on Main Road – you can get yourself a passport for R10. No queues, no questions asked, it takes all of 30 seconds to process. It’s all about patriotism, you see – the idea being to promote local business.

And it’s working. Consul general Andre Jacobs says close to 10,000 people passed through “The Consulate” last year alone.

According to my passport number, I am the 11,074th person to be issued with a Hout Bay passport. And the benefits are numerous.

My passport entitles me to R300’s worth of value by way of discounts from the Hout Bay Members of Business – or the Mob, as Andre calls it. I can get a special dessert of my choice free with a main course from the Wharfside Grill restaurant down on Mariner’s Wharf, or a 10% discount on entry to the World of Birds or a 10% discount at The Bay Bookshop. And if that doesn’t appeal it simply gives me boasting rights as an honorary citizen of the “most beautiful, unique and fun-loving land in the whole, wide world”.

Fun as it may be, the folks from the Republic of Hout Bay are serious about marketing their village. So what’s there to market?

For starters, location, location, location. Apart from the posh neighbouring suburbs of Llandudno and Constantia, Hout Bay's a mere 20 kilometres from the city – an easy commute for the suits – and can be accessed via three exceptionally scenic routes. They are: Victoria Drive, which hugs the coastline; Rhodes Drive, a wooded meandering road that passes Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and ends at Constantia Nek circle; and the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive, which links up with Noordhoek. (Though “Chappies” has been closed since June, due to damage caused by heavy rains, word is that it will be open for this year’s Argus Cycle Tour in March).

Which leads us to what is possibly the suburb’s biggest selling point and that’s natural beauty. Hout Bay lies on the Atlantic Seaboard and in the shadow of majestic World Heritage Site mountains. No matter where you are, there’s beauty all around.

Hout Bay was originally two farms, and the farmstead/equestrian feel is still very much the vibe. This mix of sea, forest and farm life all makes for a great outdoorsy lifestyle – something that the locals cherish and have fought hard to preserve.

One local estate agent, who has worked in real estate in Hout Bay for about 25 years, says the local ratepayers’ association and green lobby have resisted rampant development in favour of “the Hout Bay flavour”. For example, further development on the beachfront is unlikely after the migrating sand was disturbed by development.

With its scenic beauty and a diverse community, which includes the people of Imizamo Yethu township and the Coloured community in Hangberg, it’s no wonder that the village is a hot tourist attraction. But property is said to be bigger business. The agent estimates that there are at least 13 estate agencies in Hout Bay, and roughly 80 agents, with “good synergy” between them.

There’s believed to be a great deal of interest in Hout Bay at the moment, with one property portal reporting that it was the fifth-most searched suburb in the country in November last year. Seven sales (four houses, three stands and one sectional title property) were concluded in December last year, the agent said. She says the market has been quiet, but since the beginning of the year there’s been a flurry of enquires. “We’ve had some sales, but buyers are very cautious at the moment. They realise interest rates are coming down, so they’re doing some serious bargain hunting.”

Flip through the local property supplements and it would seem that there are bargains to be had in Hout Bay. Properties on the market range in price from R680 000 for an entry-level apartment to R36m for a mansion. “Prices in Hout Bay vary widely depending on the location of the property and whether it’s in a security estate (fully enclosed – there are 12) or a private estate (boomed),” says the agent.

Crime was a big problem in Hout Bay up until 2005, when the Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch (HBNW) was established. The organisation has become a vigilant presence in the community and is one of the most active and effective neighbourhood watch bodies in the Western Cape. Lindy Nauta, the public relations officer for the HBNW, says the body has close on 2300 members – all volunteers – and a radio network which operates 24/7. HBNW has proved so successful that is has been a model case for other neighbourhood watch groups.

The town also has ample shopping and recreational amenities: Mariner’s Wharf waterfront nearby a functioning harbour, supermarkets (two Spar stores, Checkers, Woolies and a Pick n Pay Express), restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, chemists, bottle stores and video shops. It also has several schools and Christian churches, but no synagogues or mosques.

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