Investors living in the small Midlands town of Howick have escaped the economic downturn relatively unscathed.The news of the global recession doesn’t appear to have been heard in the town of Howick, which is situated in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal. A popular retirement destination, properties in the area continue to sell in large volumes.Set in beautiful countryside and forming part of the Midlands Meander, Howick has truly come into its own in recent years. Lightstone statistics reveal that a staggering sectional title sales have taken place over the past year. The figures show that of the sales concluded 34% of the buyers fell into the 50 to 64 year age group.It has become apparent in recent years that while the residential market has an over-supply of residential properties, there is a severe shortage of retirement accommodation across the country. Simply put, people are living longer and as a result retirement homes and villages have lengthy waiting lists for those wishing to invest in a secure environment with individuals of a similar age. Despite the shortage, developers both in SA and abroad do not seem to have kept abreast with the situation, which comes as somewhat of a surprise, given the financial security of the average investor who buys into this segment of the market. In South Africa in particular, where crime is commonplace and the need for secure housing is paramount, generally speaking, a well-thought-out, well-maintained and managed retirement home or village sells and sells well. Visiting the town, it is easy to see why the area has remained high on the older investor’s wish list. Apart from the waterfall that cascades over a 95m drop, the settlement offers residents a small village atmosphere with a number of amenities available for entertainment. The Midlands Meander, a dedicated arts and crafts route and well-known tourist attraction that stretches all the way from Pietermaritzburg to Mooi River, draws large numbers of tourists to the area and has played a huge role in putting this once-small village on the map.The town has risen to the occasion and now offers visitors a wide choice of specialised craft and antique shops as well as a wealth of outdoor activities. Nearby Karkloof offers the Karkloof Canopy tour, where visitors move from platform to platform some 30 metres above the floor of the forest in one of the many indigenous forests that dot this region. It also plays host to the annual Classic Mountain Bike Festival. There are two golf courses nearby and boating and fishing enthusiasts can take advantage of Midmar dam, which is situated virtually on the town’s doorstep.The fact that banks have continued to clamp down on the number of bonds granted doesn’t appear to have affected sales in this area. The statistics show that of the 253 sales, 138 were sold for cash, indicating perhaps, that the reason why the news of the slump has not yet reached the town is because, as far as these investors are concerned, there is and never has been an economic crisis.
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