Down the hill from Northcliff and across the valley from Fairlands in north-west Johannesburg lies a little suburb called Berario. Unless you have friends in the area or happen to pass by that way you probably have never heard of it. Nothing exceptional ever happened there, famous people may have lived there but they did so without the suburb intruding into the realm of public consciousness. The suburb became part of Johannesburg in 1969 and the name itself is a combination of the names of the two promoters of the suburb Ber Sarnie and Ario Canova. The naming of the streets has a distinct American tone with Arkansas, Arizona and Wyoming, just a few of the streets that make up the suburb, but not all of the streets are names that are easily recognizable, Blanca (a town in Colorado), Matagorda (a town in Texas) and Gila (a town in New Mexico).As someone that grew up in Berario after my parents bought a house on Hoover Street in the early 1970s, the quiet streets of the suburb were my playground and my bike and I traversed every street and, more often than I can recall, the park that we called the donga, which bisects Berario.Berario has always been a cheaper option in an area that has historically been one of the more expensive sections of north-western Johannesburg.The allure of the suburb is relatively easy to understand. It is close to major roads such as Beyers Naude but none of them run through the suburb. Unless, of course, you buy a house on Weltevreden Road with runs along the south-eastern boundary of the suburb.Northcliff Primary is within walking distance and Cliffview Primary and Laerskol Fairland are both a short drive away, without having to brave heavily congested routes. Access to the freeway is easy from either Beyers Naude or 14th Ave and Flora Clinic is within easy reach. Cresta and Heathway shopping centres are both easy to get to and smaller centres such as El Corro and Mountain View shopping centres are close at hand.Homeowners in these suburbs have seen real return on their investment over the past 5 years. With an average sale price of a freehold property just over R1.5 million, prices have escalated by 76% in the period between 2005 and 2010, making it the 5th best performing suburb in this sector of the market. In real terms this means that the average selling price of a freehold property in Berario has increased from R739 000 in 2004 to R1.4 million in 2010 and the average price of a sectional title has escalated from R272 000 in 2004 to R567 000 in 2010.Sectional title is only 13% of the market in Berario, making it a relatively small part of the suburb, relative to some of the newer areas which are very heavily skewed in favour of sectional title. Even taking into the account the recent slowdown in the property market, Berario has stood up well with growth of 13.2% between 2008 and 2010. This makes it the 3rd best performing suburb in Johannesburg in its sector of the market over the period.The wealth sector that Berario falls into is the R700 000 to R1.5 million sector, putting it into the same sector as Linmeyer, Cyrildene and Greenstone Hill. What makes Berario stand out is the stability of the suburb. Over 40% of stable owners (a number that excludes recent sales) have owned their properties for 11 years or more. Of the recent sellers, 38% have owned their properties for less than 5 years indicating that there has been some measure of fallout from the slowdown in the economy but this is balanced out by 36% of sellers that have owned their properties for more than 11 years. Examining the age profile of recent buyers 40% of these are in the 18-35 year old bracket and more than 50% of the remaining buyers in the 36-49 year-old category. This should reinforce the strength of the suburb as a family focused suburb driven by a desire for quiet tree-lined streets and easy access to all the amenities.
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