A surprising and unanticipated stumbling block was that Germans did not understand the concept of a secure, gated development
German interest in South African property remains strong, says Chris Cilliers, chief executive and principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands. He was part of a South African delegation attending Hafengeburtstag Hamburg, the world’s largest port festival and expo.
He said German investors at the international event had a surprisingly healthy appetite for South African real estate, especially those in the market for retirement properties.
But a surprising and unanticipated stumbling block was that Germans did not understand the concept of a secure, gated development, he says.
“We were showcasing Val de Vie Evergreen, the exclusive lifestyle retirement village on the Val de Vie estate in the Paarl-Franschoek valley, and most of the attendees who expressed interest were surprisingly undeterred by the water situation or the land expropriation issue.”
However, Cilliers says they discovered to their surprise they had to change the focus of the presentation.
“Most of the people we presented to simply didn’t understand the concept of a secure, gated development. We discovered that the closest literal translation of the term ‘security estate’ is a prison. In Germany such developments simply don’t exist as they have no need for them.
“They have excellent government health care and a much lower crime rate so free-standing houses and apartments are the only property options, and retirement accommodation is most commonly just purpose-built apartment blocks for people over 55.
“So instead we highlighted the exceptional lifestyle that developments such as Val de Vie offer and the sense of community and village atmosphere they engender.”
Cilliers says while they were in Hamburg, tourism statistics were released which showed Germany had now overtaken the UK as the country with the highest number of annual visitors to South Africa.