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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

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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