The town with its picturesque landscape, lush forests and magnificent waterfalls exports in excess of 6 million tulip bulbs on an annual basis across the globe. The flowers, however, are not harvested so “tiptoeing through the tulips” is not purely for those who visit Amsterdam.Being one of the highest towns in South Africa, 2025m above sea level to be exact, Belfast was named in honour of Richard O’Neill, an Ulsterman who owned the farm on which the town was built the area was named Belfast after his home town in Ireland. The farming history of the town is a success story in itself, and being a predominant agricultural area, Belfast farmers have taken their surrounding natural resources and turned them into a proverbial cash cow. The farms in the region generate some of South Africa’s finest lamb and mutton produce for export ,as well as dairy and maize. Timber is a leading industry in the district in addition to the mining of coal and black granite.As with all small towns in the country, one of the leading concerns for the authorities is the sustainable growth and development of the rural communities. In a recent survey conducted by government, an astonishing 30% of the young school-going population in the surrounding area have had no formal education.
This, coupled with the nationwide drive to create home ownership in rural communities, has seen private developers crawl out of the woodwork expressing interest in building houses, schools and shopping centres in the area. Although a land audit is still to be undertaken, there are some strategic pieces of land that the council intends making available for the “Breaking of New Ground initiative” in both the Belfast and Dullstroom areas. This would prove to be a positive step toward economic growth and development for the area in the future.Property sales in the area are dominated by the freehold sector of the market according to recent statistics released by Lightstone. There were a total of 38 sales concluded in Belfast in the last 12 months, all of which were freehold properties. Louis Greeff of Pam Golding Properties in Belfast says that the housing sector in the area has seen a number of buy-to-let sales in recent years, with excellent returns on investment. Good infrastructure is a prerequisite and easy access to facilities such as schooling, hospitals and amenities, make residing in Belfast a popular option for those who work in surrounding areas such as Machadadorp and commute to their places of work from this quaint, modest town. Although the average price of property sold in the area recently came in at R246 000, Greeff notes that a vast number of these sales would have been vacant stands. “The average price of a three bedroom, two bathroom home in the area would be anywhere in the region of R580 000 to R800 000 for a more upmarket home. Average rentals come in at a minimum price of R5500 per month for a three bedroom, two bathroom home.”For those who are looking to invest their pennies in property, Belfast could be an attractive option. Reasonable property prices coupled with excellent employment opportunities and an outstanding quality of life means that owning a property in the area could prove to be a lucrative investment.