Ask an Agent: Gerrit van Heerden
In this month's newsletter, we went undercover to uncover more about the agri-properties and interviewed an Agrisell agent, Gerrit van Heerden based in the Boland town of Paarl.
1) How long have you been a specialist in the agri-property business?
I have been a property practitioner, specializing in the selling of farms and smallholdings, for more than 10 years now.
2) In your experience, how has the agri-property business changed over the last few years?
Traditional production units are still attractive to the larger but we see greater demand from professionals who want to scale down their careers in a few years. They are looking for a lifestyle property, but also where a retirement income can be generated. Some buyers want to live on a lifestyle farm while continuing with their profession while commuting to Cape Town and even Gauteng.
There is a strong demand for smallholdings with stables and equestrian facilities and also properties located adjacent to a busy road where a farm stall or similar income-generating activities can be started.
We also see South Africans returning from living abroad looking for lifestyle farms that are not too far from Cape Town CBD and the airport.
3) In what areas of the country are you seeing interest?
Prospective buyers from elsewhere in the country are looking at top schools and universities in the Paarl and Stellenbosch area. Instead of putting their children in a hostel, they are looking for agricultural property in Wellington, Paarl and Stellenbosch.
4) Any tips for prospective buyers?
A reliable property practitioner with a proven track record is vital in this specialist field. The location of the farm plays a big role and an experienced property practitioner will be able to guide buyers on why certain areas are better to invest in than others.
All aspects regarding water (e.g. quantity, quality, seasonality) must be carefully assessed.
Make sure the size of the property is suitable for the commodities you want to farm with.
The buyer needs to ensure she/he has the expertise and temperament to manage the farm.
Make sure the asking price of a property is in line with the current market prices.
Ask about the farm's title deed, servitudes and whether a due diligence process is required. Also, determine the rights of tenure of farmworkers and decide how the farm is going to be registered, for example in the name of a natural person or a legal entity.
5) Any tips for sellers?
A seller who uses an experienced and reliable property practitioner will have peace of mind that his property will be marketed at a market-related price and the best possible media exposure. Also, ask your agent about the impact of capital gains tax.
6) You may have had some interesting enquiries over the years. Care to share a story?
Some years ago I received an enquiry from a French guy who said in broken English that he would love to farm in the Boland. For almost three years, he then visited South Africa twice a year to look at various farms and learn about the area.
When he got into my car, the standard procedure for him was to open his French/English dictionary and we had all conversations via the dictionary! I eventually got him the farm he was looking for and he is now a successful farmer.
Gerrit van Heerden +27 83 658 7474
Author Marinda Louw Coetzee, Agri journalist