Increasing interest in South African property due to currency rates and World Cup

Foreign property investors are increasingly interested in buying in South Africa as the weakening Rand and relatively stable growth rates make the country a more attractive investment despite the country's property slowdown.

European buyers in particular have been looking at properties in the Western Cape, along the Garden Route and in cities that will host the 2010 World Cup, according to industry professionals.

A favourable exchange rate between the Rand and the Euro is also adding to the attractiveness of South African property for Europeans.

'There is an upturn in inquiries especially via the internet,' said Lew Geffen, chairperson of Sotheby's International Realty in South Africa. 'German buyers like the relatively stable growth of the property market and see a downturn in prices as a good opportunity to invest,' he added.

The company, which has recently opened offices in Hamburg, Essen and Dusseldorf, has found that German investors are most interested in lifestyle property and very demanding as to finishes and building standards.

Simon Gibb, general manager of Pam Golding Properties' international division, said over the past fortnight the division has noted a slight increase in inquiries from foreigners.

'We assume it is as a direct result of the depreciating Rand. These inquiries relate more to what stock is available on the market here than to properties in specific locations and in a specific price range, he said.

Head of Seeff Properties, Samuel Seeff, said: 'It is still too early to tell what the real impact on foreign buyers is going to be. There is still too much turmoil in the world financial markets to be clear about how they are going to respond in terms of buying property in South Africa.'

However, he added that the property sector does expect the demand from foreign buyers will increase as they seek to take advantage of the weaker Rand.