Where It's All Happening - Property Hot Zones

Private Property South Africa
Antoinette McDonald

No doubt about it, the residential property market is depressed. But there’s still some activity. We asked the experts at the South Africa Property Transfer Guide (SAPTG) for the five top-performing areas in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg over the first quarter of this year.

Then we got the folks at Lightstone to give us an analysis of those areas. The findings are surprising, especially since some suburbs aren’t rated by property pundits.

In Gauteng, the top selling areas were Braamfontein, New Canada in Roodepoort, Lehae in Lenasia, Sandhurst and Paulshof. Talk about a mixed bag – from the up and funky, to the oh-so-stylish, all the way down to the informal.

Braamfontein topped the charts in Johannesburg with190 sales averaging about R400K. This vibrant area is best known as home to the world-famous Nelson Mandela Bridge. Just north of the Jozi city centre, it’s also apparently the fourth-largest node supplying office space in the city (according to the suburb’s very own snazzy website: http://www.braamfontein.org.za/). Close to the Wits University campus, the area boasts plenty student accommodation. But that’s not all that makes Braamies a firm favourite. This area a hive of cultural activity and is home to artists, great theatres, live-music spots and top-notch galleries.

According to Lightstone most properties in this area (91%) are sectional schemes. Since 2004, these properties have seen significant growth with an average price of R81K then and R400K now.

What’s even more impressive is the growth in the freehold market. Five years ago the average freehold property went for R716K and today these same properties go for well over R2 million.

So, looking at SAPTG’s figures, it’s safe to conclude that sectional schemes are hot property in Braamfontein and they’re changing hands furiously.

Next up is New Canada in Roodeport with 154 sales averaging about R250K, according to SAPTG. Freehold properties in Roodepoort in general seem to have declined in value over the past few years. Lightstone says what cost you about R150K in 2004 will only earn you R200K this year.

Lehae in Lenasia is next on the big sellers list. Lehae is a residential development in the south of Johannesburg boasting about 3000 stands. Although it’s a relatively new area, plans for schools, crèches, churches, business nodes and an agricultural training college are in the pipeline. This year alone, 141 sales have gone down there – averaging about R250K each.

Fourth on the list in the fancy suburb of Sandhurst in Sandton. According to SAPTG, there have been 71 sales in Sandhurst, averaging R1, 225 million each. A total of 63% of the market stock in this area is sectional title. Sectional schemes have nearly doubled in value since 2004. Back then, these properties went for about R697K and in 2009 the same properties sold for about R1,28 million.

In 2008, 167 sales were recorded in Sandhurst – over 150 of those were sectional schemes. It looks as if that figure will be even higher by the end of 2009.

And finally, the last of the big sellers in Jozi is Paulshof, also in Sandton. Here, 69 sales have been recorded this year – averaging about R960K each. Sectional schemes make up 70% of the market stock in Paulshof and these properties have also almost doubled in value over the past few years. R480K was what you would have paid for a sectional scheme in Paulshof in 2004 and now you can expect to pay about R898K. Last year alone about 525 sales were recorded in the sectional scheme market in Paulshof.

Durban’s top movers are Bulwer in Glenwood; Winklespruit near Amanzimtoti; Musgrave; nearby Essenwood and Caversham Glen in Pinetown.

In SAPTG’s period under review (January to March) there were 60 sales in Bulwer, with an average price of R600k. The area is popular because of its proximity to the University of KZN and the Durban University of Technology. It’s close to the freeway and major transport routes and boasts a number of small and convenient shopping centres. According to Lightstone about 35% of recent buyers are aged 18-35 years. Most sales (40%) are in the R400k-R800k range and sectional title properties have seen keen growth. In 2005 Lightstone says the average-priced sectional title property was R324k, which rose to R556k this year.

In Winkelspruit, the seaside suburb saw 95% of recent buyers almost equally split between the 18-35 year-old bracket and the middle-aged bracket of 50-65 year-olds. In 2004 the average sectional title property sold for R573k, now the price is R951k. SAPTG says there were 47 sales in the first three months of this year with an average price of R940k.

In Musgrave, on Durban’s Berea, SAPTG says there were 46 sales in the period under review, with the average price being R715k. Musgrave has spectacular sea views, is also close to the Durban Institute of Technology and is home to Musgrave Centre, Overport Centre and Berea Centre.

According to Lightstone 30% of new buyers are aged 18-35 years-old; 41% of the stock is sectional title and priced between R400k-R800k. The average price of a unit in Musgrave was R431k in 2004 and is now R733k.

In Amanzimtoti, SAPTG says 43 properties sold in the first three months of this year, with an average price of R765k. According to Lightstone, Toti, with its popular beaches and quick access to the N2 and the airport, has the bulk of its stock in the R400k-R800k range (53%) and most buyers (40%) are aged between 50-64 years-old. The average price for a sectional title unit in Toti was R302k in 2004; the same unit is now priced at R672k.

Durban’s fourth best seller in the first three months of this year was Essenwood, adjoining Musgrave.

SAPTG said there were 43 sales with an average price of R760k.

The suburb, famous for its Saturday flea market, has fancy roads like Cowey and Essenwood and was traditionally home to the moneyed ODF, or Old Durban Families. According to Lightstone, almost 40% of recent buyers in Essenwood are aged between 18-35 years-old. Most of the stock sold, according to Lightstone (55%) was in the range R800k-R1, 5 million. In 2004 the average price of a sectional title unit was R331k, which rose to R708k in 2009.

Caversham Glen, in Pinetown, is the last of Durban’s top performers, according to SAPTG. In the first three months of this year, 42 properties sold in the suburb for an average price of R485k.

According to Lightstone, almost half (48, 3%) of the recent buyers in Caversham Glen were aged 18-35 years-old and most of the sellers (60,9%) were aged 50 years and older. Clearly the old are moving out for the young. The average price of sectional title properties has risen from R290k in 2005 to R439k in 2009.

And finally, according to SAPTG, in Cape Town it was Wesfleur in Atlantis, Century City in Milnerton, Foreshore, then Plumstead and Belhar and Weltervreden Valley in Mitchells Plain that made the grade on the top performing suburbs list.

Wesfleur in Atlantis topped the charts with 73 sales in just three months – these averaging about R360K in value.

Century City came in at a close second with 69 sales – except that the average property price there was R1,33m. According to Lightstone, 90% of the market stock up for grabs in Century City is sectional scheme properties. The return on investment of property in this area has been suberb. In 2004, a sectional scheme property cost around R770K. Today, these properties are selling for R1,44m. In the freehold market, a home that goes for about R2m these days, would have cost you R159K five years ago.

The Foreshore is next with 57 sales averaging R1,89m each. This uber-trendy area has a good mix of freehold and sectional scheme properties, but is well out of the reach of your average Joe. Here, one-bedroom/bachelor pads have been known to sell for not one, two, or three bar – but four! Interestingly Lightstone records only six sales in the area in 2008 and now in just three months in 2009, 57 sales have gone down. Are the rich flogging their apartments?

SAPTG tells us that Plumstead comes in fourth place with 40 sales between January and March this year, with properties going for about R925K. Most properties in the suburb are freehold – and most have taken a small knock in value over the past year. What sold for R1m in 2007, sold for around R978K in 2008.

The last of the big sellers in Cape Town is a tie between Belhar and Weltervreden Valley in Mitchells Plain with 39 sales each. Belhar properties averaged R325K while those in Weltervreden Valley averaged slightly less at R259K each.

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