Despite the difficulties that South Africa’s farmers face daily, owning agricultural land in Mzansi is not getting any less attractive. In fact, property experts say there’s a growing demand for good land that pushes prices up.
According to Jannie Fourie, founder of agricultural property agency AgriSell, new entrants are lured to the farming sector based on rising food prices and possible business opportunities. “There is a direct correlation between food prices and the demand to purchase a farm. Food prices continuously increases and therefore the value of land also increases.”
Although farm prices differ vastly, the upwards price trend holds true even in more remote areas. Fourie says urbanites migrate to more far-flung farms for a peaceful life, “especially in the more remote areas where theft is not such a big problem as well as where good quality water in substantial volumes are available for irrigation”.
PJ Veldhuizen, attorney, litigator and senior mediator at Gillan and Veldhuizen attorneys, agrees that the market for farms in South Africa has attracted significant interest over the last few years, despite countering factors.
“There has been an increase in available properties, largely due to government’s redistribution-of-land policies and, some might add, the increase in the cost of farming, but this availability of stock has been countered by an upswing in demand as the lifestyle appeal of countryside living gains popularity,” he says.
Smaller, manageable pockets of land
According to Fourie, the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country are gaining much more popularity among buyers. “This is due to the smaller sizes of the farms in the province and high rainfall. People seem to enjoy owning manageable, small pockets of land due to security and financial reasons,” he says.
But while more people are embracing rural living, both experts caution that buying a farm must be be approached with sound knowledge and careful consideration.
Fourie says that, apart from the price, elements such as security, availability of water and the location of the farm are some of the things that must be considered before buying farmland.
Veldhuizen adds checking whether the seller does not have any disputes with neighbours or whether that there are pending land claims registered to the property. He says buyers should check if any servitudes apply, what water rights the farm has been granted, and what zoning rights and permits are applicable.
“Investigation must be done to establish if the farm is under any environmental or heritage limitations,” he adds, as well as to establish the rights of tenure to farmworkers. “[Imagine] buying a farm with the intention to turn the staff houses into guest units, only to find the staff have a legal right to the property. A sought-after investment should come with a hefty checklist accompanied by an experienced contract specialist,” he warns.
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