Boom Times Over for Benoni Central

Private Property South Africa

Benoni Central has seemingly fallen out of favour. That’s the news according to a local real estate agent who specialises in Benoni Central and surrounds.

A few years ago, Benoni Central was booming with buyers lobbying to own property in the area. The area’s proximity to Benoni’s CBD made it highly appealing to those seeking to be close to their places of work in town. In many instances, living so close to the CBD also cancelled out the need for a car. Now, real estate agents are struggling to sell even the most affordably priced properties in the area. New development has also unsurprisingly come to a standstill.

Benoni Central is comprised in the main of Sectional Title properties. Many of these take the form of two bedroom apartments and studio flats which currently range in price from R250 000 to R550 000. According to the latest Lightstone report on the area, the average Sectional Title price currently stands at R387 000. According to the same report, sales have dropped significantly since the boom times of 2005. In 2005, 262 Sectional Title properties were sold. This year, only 71 have moved.

A number of freehold properties are situated in Benoni Central but these are faring no better than their Sectional Title counterparts. According to Lightstone, in 2005, 158 freehold properties were sold. Only 31 have been sold to date in 2011 at an average price of R545 000. In general Benoni Central’s properties are sitting on the market for extended periods of time and the number of properties which have been sold in execution currently stands at eleven which is comparable to the area’s 2010 figures.

A number of factors have contributed to this somewhat gloomy scenario say resident experts. The global financial crisis is one factor, the banks are tightening up their lending criteria once more, some of the Sectional Title properties aren’t being maintained and people are moving away from the area as crime has reportedly increased significantly. Apparently, one extension in particular has earned itself a reputation for harbouring criminals. Happily, local residents apparently have plans in the pipeline aimed at ‘retaking’ the area and cleaning it up.

Of course as is the case with many struggling areas, popular pockets remain. Sectional Title properties along Main Reef Road Avenue and Howard Avenue are selling fairly quickly. Freehold properties at the nearby node of Lakefields are also reportedly moving at prices in excess of R2m. A small incidence of refurbishment is taking place and the local rental market is proving robust with two bedroom apartments leasing for between R3000 and R4, 500pm depending on the street.

Interestingly the current profile of those buying in the area is quite mixed. According to Lightstone, just over 20 percent of recent buyers to the area are aged between 18 and 35 and approximately 60 percent of new buyers fall into the 36 to 49 age bracket. ‘Mature’ buyers and pensioners comprise the remaining 20 percent of recent buyers.

Negativity aside, Benoni Central could potentially boom again. The properties are centrally located and the area enjoys access to a wide range of amenities including the Benoni Day Clinic, the Sunshine Hospital, a local Medicross and a number of police stations. Nearby shopping outlets include the Lakeside Mall and Benoni Plaza; schools include Saint Dunstans Memorial, Saint Columba’s Primary School and Heidi Montessori School amongst others.

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