Although one would assume that Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape was exclusively for jetsetters and the like, in actual fact, property prices in the area cater for a far larger and more financially diverse market. The small town is situated at the mouth of the Kowie River, virtually midway between Port Elizabeth and East London, and is home to approximately 20 000 people.
Statistics released by Lightstone reveal that there have been 178 transfers in the area over the past 12 months. The average price attained for a freehold property was R924 000 while the sectional title average came in at R651 000. Market stock is made up of 74 percent freehold property, with 13 percent being sectional title property and the remaining 12 percent falling into the estate category.
Apart from the glorious sea and river views, the area is perhaps best known for the Royal Alfred Marina which offers homeowners exclusive waterfront living. The estate which, comprises five islands within the Kowie River Estuary, measures 45 hectares and features magnificent examples of South African architecture. The privilege of living here, while not cheap, offers homeowners in the region of 15 metres of almost priceless prime river frontage and as such, the area is dotted with private jetties and boats.
An Internet search indicates that there is property available across all price bands. The most expensive properties hover around the R600 000 mark for a two bedroom, one bathroom unit to approximately R11-million for a four bedroom, three bathroom palatial home on the banks of the marina.
Upmarket properties seem to be holding their own price-wise and the statistics show that although there were 19 sales concluded in the R1.5-million to R3-million bracket, there were an additional seven sales of property priced over the R3-million mark. Although these figures appear to be good, given the current state of the economy, they in no way compare to the number of properties sold in 2007. In that year, 503 sales were concluded, with a total value of R323-million.
The stats further reveal that 69 percent of existing homeowners and 51 percent of recent buyers are over the age of 50 years, highlighting the town’s popularity with retirees. Regarded as a holiday mecca by many, the town offers numerous activities including scuba diving and canoeing, as well as golf at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club, one of only seven Royal golf courses in the country.
The town is also attractive to epicures, featuring a number of bistros, pubs and restaurants. The well-known Pig and Whistle, South Africa’s oldest pub, is situated in nearby Bathurst. It was built in 1825 by Thomas Hartley, a local blacksmith. The establishment has had a number of name changes over the years and on Hartley’s death was renamed Widow Hartley’s Inn. Various high-powered dignitaries have stayed at the establishment over the years. Famous visitors include Lord Charles Somerset and Sir Benjamin D’ Urban.
With its moderate climate, Blue Flag beach and top class shopping malls, the area holds a strong appeal to the tourist market. Home to the South African campus of the Stenden University in Holland, the area attracts large numbers of students including foreigners who come to the town to study for either a BCom or a degree in hospitality management. The 43 Air School, which trains both pilots and air traffic controllers, is also situated near the town.