Dotted around the greater Johannesburg area are a number of suburbs, which I would call ‘old mining suburbs’. Typically close to Main Reef Road, these suburbs sprang up when Jo’burg was still a mining town and provided accommodation both for those working on the mines and for those working in associated industries.Primrose, situated just north of Main Reef Road and just south of Bedfordview, is one of those suburbs and despite a strong community in the past, the suburb has fallen on hard times and this has been reflected in the property prices. The main cause of the decline of Primrose has been the growth of the informal settlement to the south of Main Reef Road and the increase in crime that, almost inevitably, accompanies this kind of settlement. That there is still vacant mining land in the space south of Primrose is an indicator that the story of this settlement is not fully written yet.The suburb, however, still retains its small town ambience, even though the ‘CBD’ has seen some degradation in recent times. The construction of a new shopping centre in Fisher’s Hill has moved some of the commerce away from the ‘CBD’ but it remains busy and reportedly a good place to shop, according to those in the know.Despite the presence of the informal settlement, there are still ‘good’ areas of Primrose, and north of Rietfontein Road – which runs across Primrose from east to west - is reportedly the best area to look. What sets the suburb apart is that it sits virtually at the junction of a number of major transport routes, including the N3, the M2 and the N12 as well as close proximity to the Jo’burg CBD, OR Tambo International Airport, Eastgate and Bedfordview. Despite the average selling price of freehold properties having fallen from a peak of R648 000 in 2007 to a R560 000 in 2010 and R509 000 for the first quarter of this year, more than 40% of owners have owned their properties for 11 years or more. At the same time the number of properties changing hands has also decreased dramatically, from 272 in 2004 to 92 last year. This is likely because of owners looking for a recovering in the suburb’s fortunes and holding onto their investments, in addition to the strong community that exists in Primrose. The Portuguese community is especially prominent in this area.What Primrose offers for property buyers is both a suburb that has a low entry-point for first time buyers and a higher potential upside for the investment, depending on the future of the informal settlement of course.Being just over the hill from Bedfordview presents a number of opportunities in the education realm from both the public and private perspective. Primrose Primary is in the suburb and Dawnview High covers the secondary schooling element. Down the hill schools such as St Benedicts, Holy Rosary School, Saheti and St Andrews Girls School are all within easy reach.Buying a house in any area presents an element of risk and the presence of large areas of open land increases this risk as open land available for development, of the formal and informal nature, is at a premium in Johannesburg. However, for new home-owners looking willing to take the risk Primrose does present opportunities.
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