Driving from Cape St Francis through St Francis Bay village and on towards the canals on Saturday morning there was hardly a Property Agent “FOR SALE” board to be seen. Possibly a sub-conscious awareness of denuded verges rather than a conscious observation, it certainly became more obvious the further one travelled through the area. Recalling a comment overheard on Thursday made by an estate agent to a member of the St Francis Bay Tourism committee member whilst attending a meeting at St Francis Links, it seemed worthwhile investigating a bit further.

Who else to call but Nigel Aitken, Chairman of the St Francis Bay Residents Association for if anyone has the lay of the land in and around St Francis, it is Nigel.  The call to struck oil as it were, for he confirmed the observation was indeed accurate. And no, Martians had not landed in St Francis and scooped up all the boards nor had the boards been stolen to shore up leaks of the homes in the informal settlement, Rather, on Friday, St Francis Tourism met with the local Estate Agents and it was agreed that as an interim measure, Estate Agents would remove all “For Sale” boards from verges pending an amicable solution / agreement being reached by tourism and property agent principals at a follow-up meeting planned for this coming Wednesday.

Always good to get two sides of a story so next stop was to chat with an realtor to see how they feel about the decision? Surprisingly it seems they, or certainly this particular agent, are not altogether against the idea. Certainly they would like their boards to display active show houses but as for leaving literally hundreds of properties for sale signs dotted throughout is both unsightly and gives the impression that people are fleeing the area. Nothing could be further from the truth however for sales are good if not vibrant with the advanced interest promising good sales during the upcoming holiday.

It is fact that the majority of homes in the St Francis area are second homes and this in itself contributes to the number of houses up for sale. Changes in lifestyle, kids leaving home with many of these kids emigrating, means the need a seaside holiday home simply is no longer a priority. Others having sold up in Gauteng and moved to Cape Town or Durban and no longer deem a holiday home necessary for their move has brought them the best of both worlds in these coastal cities. Then there are many sellers who have invested in property for financial return rather than intending to ever settle in St Francis. Many of these would sell if offered the right price and thus set their prices unrealistically high in the hope of getting their price, again resulting in estate agent boards adorning their verges for months if not years.

Whatever the reason the hundreds of “For Sale” boards, not only in St Francis but in towns and cities throughout South Africa, surely these “For Sale” boards must be competing with empty plastic bags for the dubious honour of  becoming South Africa’s unofficial national flower.

There are many avenues open to advertise houses for sale more efficient than placing boards on verges. The internet certainly is a cost effective and informative alternative and The Evening Post’s “Neighbourhood” insert lists literally hundreds of properties for sale, some in the St Francis area.

We look forward to reporting the outcome of the meeting between St Francis Tourism and Estate Agent on Wednesday.