A drive through leafy Houghton will reveal that many of the suburb’s large, gracious properties are slowly being replaced by upmarket clusters and apartments. Once solely the domain of large, stately family residences, Houghton’s character is changing somewhat as many of its acre plots get subdivided by developers. So says Jeanine Fincher of International Properties who adds that a combination of demand for such property and the rising costs of maintaining Houghton’s large homes are fuelling this scenario to some extent.Entry level clusters in the area are currently fetching between R5m and R15m. Such homes typically feature four bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, three garages, 24/ 7 security and all the usual mod cons. A number of sectional title properties have also mushroomed along Glenhove Road, 17th Avenue and Houghton Drive. According to the latest Lightstone report on the area, Houghton’s sectional title homes account for 33% of current market stock and are selling for approximately R934 000 which is up from 2010’s prices of R788 000. Although generally viewed as positive by many, not all of Houghton’s new residential developments have been well received. A case in point is The Houghton, a R2bn golf estate which gave rise to controversy in 2009 following various alleged contraventions. According to Fincher the estate has since been given the go-ahead with apartments reportedly selling for between R3, 4m and R23m. Those seeking a gracious Houghton home need not despair though notes Fincher. She says such properties will always be in demand with those looking for large, luxurious family homes. Of course these properties don’t come cheap and range in price from R3m to R45m. Another factor working in favour of Houghton’s ‘traditional’ look, Fincher says, is the fact that a number of the homes are listed with the Heritage Foundation. When Houghton was first established at the turn of the century, a number of Randlords elected to move to the area and commissioned eminent architect Herbert Baker to design their homes. Given their historical importance these have since been listed which means that although they can be renovated to some extent, they cannot be demolished.Many of these homes are privately owned and feature beautiful ‘koppie rock’ finishes. Suffice to say these properties don’t come onto the market very often. In terms of current homeowners, Fincher says that many of Houghton’s large fairytale homes are owned by Indian, black and Jewish professionals. Of all Houghton’s owners it is of course South Africa’s beloved former president, Nelson Mandela who continues to be its most esteemed resident.The Mandela draw card aside, Houghton plays host to synagogues and mosques, excellent schools, hospitals and a number of upmarket shopping centres including Killarney Mall, Melrose Arch and Rosebank Mall. Currently Fincher says sales have tapered off somewhat which is in line with prevailing economic conditions and the fact that current residents are quite happy to hold on to these properties for the time being. That said, values have remained stable and even increased over the years as evidenced by Lightstone statistics. Rental properties are also doing well and are being leased for between R45 000 and R100 000pm in some instances.
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