Prime waterfront properties don’t have to be by the seaside

Prime waterfront properties don’t have to be by the seaside

Aerial view of Thesen Island and Knysna lagoon.

Being limited in supply and therefore generally much sought after, there is strong demand for residential waterfront property – and they command premium prices, says Pam Golding Properties.

However, not all prime waterfront property is sea-facing – there are equally idyllic locations that arguably offer even more, such as homes in destinations like Lake Victoria in Uganda, and in South Africa, along the canals of St Francis Bay and Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape, on Knysna Lagoon on the Garden Route or on the Vaal and Hartbeesport dams.

“There is something beguiling and soothing about large, serene bodies of water,” says Ling Dobson, Pam Golding Properties area principal in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. “Gazing out across the water is compelling and relaxing – particularly for city dwellers escaping the hustle, bustle and noise of urban living – and it seems to soothe the soul. And apart from providing an ideal space to kick back and relax, such locations also offer a range of watersport and leisure activities that are hard to beat.

“As a result, we find that buyers in the Knysna area generally look for properties with water frontage. In high demand is Thesen Island, which has homes right on the water canals as well as on what we call the Parklands, which is in the centre of the residential estate and is surrounded by parklands and not directly on the water.”

As it’s sought after, Thesen Island is an area where homes sell over and over again and where the growth in property values is exponential. Here there are both freehold and sectional title homes, priced from around R3.5 million to R4m and more. For example, says Dobson, a two-bedroom sectional title apartment on Thesen Island can be had from about R3.5m, while larger units have fetched up to R7.5m. An entry level, two or three-bedroom freehold home sells for around R5m, while luxury homes with three, four or more bedrooms and positioned right on the waterways can list for between R10m and R20m.

Adds Dobson: “Many of these buyers are from Johannesburg and Cape Town, either relocating permanently or buying a holiday home with the benefit of being within a security estate. Living on the canals and the edge of the Knysna estuary lends itself to endless watersports such as boating, skiing, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, swimming and snorkelling – all from your own private jetty.”

A 50-minute drive from George, Thesen Island includes numerous facilities including three beaches, a clubhouse, floodlit tennis courts, a squash court, a playground for young children, cricket nets, an 18-hole putting green, a giant chess board, a maze and a bird sanctuary, while Harbour Town is within walking distance with a host of restaurants and shopping.

In St Francis Bay, an upmarket paradise on the coast about 90km from Port Elizabeth, there is good demand for properties on the canals, especially vacant land, and a large number of local builders are constructing new homes.

Says Richard Arderne, Pam Golding Properties area principal: “Most of our buyers are from Gauteng and Port Elizabeth, with some from Cape Town and Durban. Houses with canal frontage achieve much higher prices than those without, being priced from around R5m to over R20m compared with between R2m and R4m for a three- to four-bedroom house off the water. Prices for vacant land on the water range from R1.5m to around R5m for plots averaging at 900m2.”

The canal is home to some of the most luxurious designer homes in the Eastern Cape, with private beaches, jetties, outside entertainment areas, large sparkling pools, open plan living areas and scenic, uninterrupted views. Apart from a host of watersports, a popular restaurant on the canals, Quaysyde, is the main kick-off for numerous activities including running and cycling events, and quadrathlons. The canals are linked to the Kromme River and river mouth, where there is fishing, boating, kite-boarding and wind-surfing.

In Port Alfred, the Royal Alfred Marina offers tranquillity and an easy, secure lifestyle, says area principal Lauren Meyer.

“Each home has a minimum of 15m of private canal or river frontage plus the option of their own deep water jetty, so this makes it an ideal location for those who enjoy waterfront living and all its inherent recreational activities. The Kowie River is navigable for 27km, with two demarcated ski zones, and there is also golf at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club.”

Prices for homes range from R2.795m for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with double garage to R17.5m for five bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms and two garages. The most popular price bracket is between R4m and R6m for four bedrooms, four bathrooms, modern finishes, double garage and private deep water jetty.

On the Vaal Dam, which attracts home buyers mainly from the greater Gauteng, Pretoria and East Rand areas, all within 90 minutes’ drive, buyers are drawn by the fact that this is renowned as the inland sailing mecca of South Africa, with eight yacht clubs and marinas around the dam catering for everything from small sailing dinghies to ocean-going yachts. This means inland sailors with large yachts can enjoy all the benefits of sailing over distance and in all types of conditions without having to go the coast and keep large vessels that may seldom be used. The Vaal Dam also caters for all types of water sports, from power boating and jet skiing to kite surfing and paddling.

Area principal Phil Medlock, says Pam Golding Properties is marketing land in waterfront residential developments Shearwater Estate and Ambermere Estate, with 2ha serviced stands priced from R300 000.

“Ambermere Estate has two marinas on a deep-water bay and is set on over 300ha with free-roaming game,. Phase one comprises 22 stands, with five homes already completed. In Shearwater Estate, which is off the beaten track and offers great fishing and boating on a quiet part of the dam, six stands in phase one have been sold. On the Free State side of the Vaal Dam in Deneysville, generally waterfront homes can be had from around R1.4m, offering sound value for money.”

On Hartbeespoort Dam, which incorporates scenic views of the surrounding Magaliesberg mountain range, the easy 15 minutes’ travel from Lanseria Airport and proximity to Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rustenburg means many permanent residents commute on business on a daily basis while enjoying all the many benefits of living on the waterfront. According to area principal Erika van der Westhuizen, the average selling price in Pecanwood Estate, which is situated on the dam, is R2.85m, ranging up to R18m.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, in the southern region of Uganda, the new Pearl Residences at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort, 58 luxury villas and 11 apartment blocks are taking shape. Prices start from $247 500 for apartments, from $675 000 for penthouses and from $770 000 for villas. The resort is a 30km drive from Entebbe International Airport and half an hour’s drive from downtown Kampala.