Down In The Glen

Private Property South Africa
Ben Kelly

Soweto is most often referred to as a sprawling township to the south of Johannesburg, and most often remembered for the 1976 student uprisings that marked a turning point in the struggle against apartheid. Over the past 17 years Soweto has got an increasing amount of attention as shopping malls and improved public transport have continued to integrate the area into greater Johannesburg. The final of the World Cup, last year, was probably the highlight of the recent history of Soweto.Sitting on the western edge of Soweto is the suburb of Protea Glen, the last vestige of the township with Lenasia to the South and Randfontein to the west, the area is what would qualify as middle-class in the Soweto hierarchy with it being a favourite of public servants such as teachers, nurses and the police.When compared with suburbs in the more affluent parts of Johannesburg Protea Glen falls into the lower-end of the pricing scale with the average selling price just over R280 000 in 2010. The trends within the suburb are extremely volatile and this makes spotting future movements equally difficult.In 2007 the average selling price for freehold properties was R70 000, but in 2009 the average selling price moved up to R280 000. This would be indicative of new, premium priced stock entering the market. Over the same period the number of units changing hands dropped dramatically from 3 300 in 2008 to 687 in 2009 and 596 in 2010. However, this is probably the result of a considerable batch of new stock entering the market and a dramatic expansion of the suburb as a whole.Although this makes tracking the value of properties in the suburb quite difficult, as would be the case in any suburb, irrespective of the property values in the area, the growth in the suburb as well as the clear increase in higher priced stock in the suburb would indicate that it has attracted the attention of property developers, and with an average sale price of R280 000 these would be developments at the top of the market in this particular suburb.One concern is both the timing and scale of the massive surge of sales in 2008, just before the introduction of the National Credit Act. The clamping down on the provision of credit has not only slowed the market, specifically in this suburb, but laxer lending practices in the period preceding the introduction of the act has lead to a large number of houses in the area being repossessed by the banks.From an education point of view Soweto has a multitude of schools, but parents in this kind of income bracket are typically more interested in ensuring that their children have access to schools in more affluent areas and in this respect easy access to main roads leading to Roodepoort, Randfontien and Lenasia all provide relatively easy access to a better quality of school than one can find in Soweto.

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