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Russians Boost South Africas Luxury Real Estate

South Africa... lacks thelegal hassle offoreign property purchasing found inother countries...

Published: August 20, 2014 (Issue # 1825)



  • Rich Russians are increasingly keen on buying into the sun, sea and mountain lifestyle on offer in South Africa.
    Photo: Warren Rohner / Wikimedia Commons

  • Cape Towns the Castle has been bought by a wealthy Russian for $2.2 million.
    Photo: Damien du Toit / Wikimedia Commons

CAPE TOWN, South Africa Nestled incongruously inthe hill overlooking asheltered cove, dusted with white sands andlined onthree sides bymountain peaks, looms a20th-century castle.

Rimmed with turrets andpunctuated bya high central tower, theedifice is areplica ofthe Lichtenstein Castle, ahistoric neo-Gothic fortress built ona cliff insouthern Germany inthe mid-1800s.

Cape Towns version, completed in1998 andknown tolocals simply as the Castle, boasts 12 bedrooms, aswimming pool, anda banquet hall lined with stained-glass windows andsuits ofarmour. Theproperty, overlooking thecitys Hout Bay, contains ahelipad anda natural waterfall, andis accessible only bya helicopter or theprivate mountain road.

One ofthe most famous real estate landmarks inCape Town, theCastle used tobe aguest house andpopular venue forwedding receptions.

Now, it is owned bya Russian.

Though therealtors that closed thedeal in2012 refused todivulge theidentity ofthe new owners, they told West Cape News that theresidence was sold toa high-profile Russian businessman for$2.2 million.

TheCastle isnt theonly piece ofprime real estate tobe scooped off theCape Town market byRussians. Local real estate agents say wealthy Russian buyers have purchased numerous other multi-million-dollar homes along thecitys picturesque coast inthe last several years, tapping intothe regions mix ofsun, sea andmountains.

They [Russians] like lifestyle properties, said Brendan Miller, head ofSouth Africas Atlantic seaboard atSothebys International Realty, aluxury global real estate agency. High-end beachfront andseaside houses ranging from10 million to40 million South African rand ($950,000 to$3.8 million) are inthe highest demand fromRussian clients, Miller said.

Bargain Prices

Foreign interest inSouth African real estate, infact, is reaching apeak, which economists say is being partly driven bya weakened local currency that has boosted major global currencies buying power.

TheSouth African rand has been depreciating since mid-2011, according toeconomic data analysis center CEIC, making residential real estate here much cheaper forforeign currency earners. Areport published bySouth African lender First National Bank, or FNB, last month found that housing prices inSouth Africa are down 21.7 percent ineuro terms and19.4 percent indollar terms compared with theend of2010. While theRussian ruble has also slid against these currencies, its depreciation has been slower.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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