Suburb Report - Rondebosch

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

First impressions of the Cape university suburb of Rondebosch is a combination of old world charm with an the energetic vibrance of its youthful residents. Popular in choice with families, academics and students, who are spoilt for choice with many large homes and a growing number of sectional scheme developments, it offers splendid mountain views, large green public spaces with an abundance of trees, and a river running through it. Reminiscent of a bygone cultural era and rich architectural heritage left behind by Sir Herbert Baker and Charles Michell, it also has a number of building projects completed by Cecil John Rhodes that have produced stately homes to many prominent people. Past resident Simon van der Stel lived in a house now part of Rustenburg Junior School, where the separate summer house that dates back to 1760 currently holds a monumental presence below the university. Past resident at Cape Town’s presidential home now called ‘Genadendal’, Cecil John Rhodes bequeathed this house to the prime ministers of the 'federated states' of South Africa, for official residential purposes since 1911, with one such resident being General Jan Smuts.Property professionals say Rondebosch has proven its worth as a stable investment vehicle, largely due to the number of prestigious schools and tertiary institutions. The list includes Bishops Diocesan College and Preparatory Schools, Rustenburg Girls, Westerford High and Rondebosch Boys. Steeped in history, institutions such as Bishops dating back to 1849 and Rondebosch Boys to 1897, have created a strong allegiance to the area where family homes are passed through generations, with many residents moving from preparatory levels to university.Lighthouse’s tenure of owners’ statistics supports this suburb’s stable property ownership, where 42% of residents have lived there for 11 years, and 39% of these stable residents are aged between 50 – 64 years, and recent sellers represent 39% of the same age group. This reflects property purchases of families whose children were either school going or university going ages, and who sold their properties after 11 years of living in the area. It also reflects the typical profile of a university town providing student accommodation where sectional scheme properties represent 39%, freehold 59% and the balance as estate properties.Ongoing demand and a stable growth factor in Rondebosch as a middle to upper class suburb with proven long-term investment returns, is illustrated in the escalating value of sectional schemes, from R435 000 in 2004 to R928 000 in 2011 – a 46% growth rate over 7 years. Freehold property prices escalated by 59% from R1 348 million per unit in 2004 to R2 388 million in 2010, but saw a small drop in price to R2.25 in 2011. Although the suburb’s highest number of total sales per annum, of 229 sectional scheme and 260 freehold took place in 2004, the highest number of sectional scheme properties – a total of 254 – were sold in 2008. Property sales in Rondebosch continue to show a healthy mix of freehold and sectional scheme units, with Lighthouse reflecting the total number of sales for the last 12 months of 256, with 61 sold in the past three months. Of last year’s 256 sales, 147 were freehold with average unit prices of R2.5 million, and 102 sectional scheme units averaging R909 000. Last year saw the development of at least three new sectional scheme properties in Rondebosch, with further development continuing this year to reflect both investment and consumer confidence in the area.

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