The boom times may be over for the once-small town of Nelspruit, but the demand for residential property is still high.To say that development has boomed in Nelspruit over the past few years is a bit of an understatement. The area has literally exploded and a region that was once synonymous with farming has become an industrial hotspot, drawing large numbers of workers to the once-small town. The relocation of the High Court from Middleburg as well as the transfer of the Deeds Office from Pretoria, have also added to the growth.Situated close to the Kruger National Park, the area has also seen an increase in tourism. Officially renamed Mbombela in 2009, one of the city’s most valuable assets, according to Maurice Lodewick from Re/Max who is currently marketing a development in the area, is its location.Before the boom, the area was better known for the produce it produced. Early settlers saw the potential that the climate and the quality of the soil offered. Citrus growers in particular enjoyed phenomenal success and as early as 1916 some 65 000 cases of citrus fruit were being exported from the Nelspruit region. The industry expanded rapidly, which led to some two million citrus fruit trees being planted in the area in the early 1920s. In 1927, a lawyer by the name of Ivan Soloman consolidated 601 plots and became the sole owner of Crocodile Estates, which is situated along the Crocodile River. In 1939, the British Government signed a contract ensuring that the estate supplied its entire crop to the British forces for the duration of the war. The Estate became and remains a significant grower and exporter of citrus fruit. Lodewick says that having a world-famous game reserve on its doorstep is just one aspect and the fact that the city is on one of the main routes into Mozambique, the border of which is only 100kms away, as well as being close to Gauteng, has played a major role in the growth.Although the boom that saw property sales reach a peak during 2007 has tapered off, the region is still reporting fairly healthy results.Lightstone statistics reflect that there have been a total of 91 properties sold in Nelspruit over the last 12 month period: 53 freehold properties, 36 sectional title and two Estate properties. The average price paid for a freehold property was around the R873 000 mark, while the average paid for a sectional title unit was approximately R495 000. Interest in new builds remains high with 31 transactions occurring in new developments and freehold homes.To support the theory that the influx of buyers is due to the economic drivers currently being experienced by the area, approximately 62% of recent buyers are aged between 36 and 49 years of age. The area features a number of good English and Afrikaans medium schools, such as Berglands Laerskool. In addition Laerskool Nelspruit and Hoerskool Nelspruit educate learners from grade R to grade 12. Nelspruit Private College and the popular nearby Lydenberg Christian College ensure that residents in of Nelspruit area have a wide choice of where to send their children to school.
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