House Hunter: 'What are the up-and-coming areas in South Africa?'

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Ray and Lynne Peters write: "We have just returned from an amazing holiday in South Africa and are now considering buying a holiday home over there.

THE PROBLEM

Ray and Lynne Peters write: "We have just returned from an amazing holiday in South Africa and are now considering buying a holiday home over there.

"We've always thought that buying somewhere in a long-haul destination would be impractical, but the journey was not a problem thanks to the lack of time difference and the more affordable flights that now seem to be on offer.

"We stayed in Cape Town, which we liked very much, but would like to know about other destinations we could consider. Are there any particular up-and-coming property hot spots? And how much would we need to buy a small villa perhaps with a garden where we could maybe install a pool. We have no fixed budget as yet, we can release equity from our UK home, which has grown enormously in value in recent years, but everyone we spoke to over there said that property prices in the Cape area have risen steeply recently so this has made us wary. Has the market there peaked perhaps?

"We would also appreciate some advice on the buying process in South Africa and also wonder if we would be better off buying a new or a resale property. Is there much new build going on? We would like a maintenance-free home if possible. We plan on using the house ourselves but it would be good to get some rental income to help cover costs and maintenance. Are there companies that handle this and if we do plan to let where would be best to buy? We would like to be as close to the coast as possible as it is so beautiful but is this much more expensive?"

THE ADVICE

"South Africa is essentially a safe and friendly destination. English is widely spoken, it is counter seasonal and mostly has an excellent and healthy climate.

"More buyers like Ray and Lynne are now considering this destination as flights have become increasingly frequent and cheap off-season. Overnight flights are now available directly into Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban and, even if you cannot get a direct flight, the transfers are frequent and economical and there are now several per hour to both Cape Town and Durban.

"As for the question of what Ray and Lynne can get for their money. Cape Town prices have moved up a lot, but there is plenty of value to be had outside the fashionable areas. There is plenty of coastal property both in new developments and free standing in areas such as False Bay, West Coast, and Walker Bay which are all within a couple of hours drive from the airport.

"Other current hot spots that they may wish to consider are the Eastern Cape Coast, Natal North and South Coasts and some non-coastal 'bush' property. Prices vary from under £100,000 up to whatever you want to pay! Obviously properties that are right on the beach are rather more expensive than a couple of roads back.

"If Ray and Lynne opt for a 'lock-up-and-go' inside a gated and secure complex then this will be more expensive but increasingly there are lots of these springing up in South Africa and they vary from golf course or wine estate locations to Mediterranean-type marinas.

"As for the buying process, buying in South Africa is rather simpler - if more expensive than UK because of the high transfer duties but there are plenty of traps for the unwary. My advice to Ray and Lynne would be to consider consulting an experienced home finder such as County Homesearch International who have recently opened there.

"Ray and Lynne will find plenty of management companies who will handle everything from marketing the property to letting, servicing, and maintaining it and there are also good garden and pool service companies in most places."

Rod Pringle is a buying agent for County Homesearch International (00 27 11 320 5808 or 01872 223 349; www.wefindhouses.com)

THE SOLUTION

Property one: La La Panzi, Western Cape.

Price: 1,975,000ZAR (£163,000)

Agent's details: A very pretty four-bedroom cottage with large fitted kitchen and dining room. A beautiful vine-covered veranda overlooks the Franschooek Mountains. The house is fully furnished and equipped for holiday rentals and also has a separate plot of land of 600sq m which could be used for a pool or outbuilding.

Property two: Two-storey property on the fairway at Sunset Links golf estate, Western Cape.

Price: 2,500,000ZAR (£207,000)

Agent's details: This two-bedroom property is just five minutes walk to the beach and overlooks the golf course. A separate lounge leads to two patio areas and the garden has a barbecue area. The master bedroom has a balcony, which overlooks the golf course and mountains. There is underfloor heating and blinds throughout.

Property three: Dolphin Beach, Western Cape.

Price: 1,590,000ZAR (£131,000)

Agent's details: This two-bedroom property has a living room, tiled dining room, kitchen and two bathrooms. There are two balconies, one with sea views and one facing east overlooking a bird sanctuary. Dolphin Bay has 24-hour security, well tended gardens, a communal swimming pool and the development is right on the beach in Blouberg, Bloubergstrand, a coastal village on the scenic West Coast.

All properties are through Engel & Völkers: 020-7590 3170; 0027 21 670 9860 (Cape Town)

THE VERDICT

"We are now very excited as these properties all look wonderful and are well within budget. At this stage we feel that we have got to narrow down our area so Rod's advice on up and coming hot spots is extremely valuable and we will definitely drive around and check them all out on our next trip over which we hope will be in the next couple of months.

"We both like the sound of property number one, which comes already furnished so would be ideal to let quickly, and which also has a plot of land where we could install a swimming pool. At this early stage we are slightly concerned as to what the 'traps' that Rod mentions could be, so we will definitely be researching the buying process thoroughly before finally committing ourselves to anything."

If you would like House Hunter's help, write to House Hunter, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail with full details: househunter@independent.co.uk

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