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Europeans Are Increasingly Find There Home In Cape Town

The fall of the Rand has seen a boom in the sale of homes to foreigners...

Cape Town in South Africa is certainly one of the world's most beautiful cities, and tourists have been travelling there in increasing numbers ever since the end of apartheid - but now many are starting to make a longer term commitment.
After all, if you are buying a house, it is all about location - and Cape Town has an irresistible combination of sea, mountains and sunshine. And one more thing - if you are coming from Europe or the United States, it is all very affordable.
Dr Andrew Golding, managing director of Pam Golding Properties, one of South Africa's leading estate agents, showed me around a lovely house in the Seapoint neighbourhood. Four bedrooms, a garden, sea views, and, of course, a swimming pool - and all for less than the price of a one bedroom flat in central London. It is little wonder that many foreigners are cashing in.
"We've seen an exponential increase in the number of foreigners that have bought here in Cape Town," said Dr Golding. "Mostly our buyers come from Britain and Germany. In the past foreigners would only buy when they had long-established family connections - now they're doing so on impulse, even on short holidays. Fifteen percent of our sales are now to foreigners."
It is the steep fall of the South African currency, the rand, which has given foreigners extraordinary spending power, and the local people are having to learn to live it.
Some grumble that the Europeans are pushing prices out of reach, but most people we spoke seemed genuinely pleased that outsiders are bringing money into the country. "It's investment - it's a sign of confidence," said one South African man, relaxing on the beach at Camps Bay.
British people are not just snapping up properties in Cape Town itself, they are also looking at opportunities in the surrounding countryside.
Barry and Annette Phillips have just retired from London, where they were living in a flat in Hampstead. Now they have brought their dream home, in the lovely village of Franschoek, in the heart of the Cape Winelands.
Neither seems especially perturbed about South Africa's notorious reputation for violent crime. "The security on houses around here is not much more than where we come from in London," said Annette. "The long term future of South Africa is favourable - we believe that if problems like Aids can be resolved, this country does have a great future," said Barry.