This may come as a surprise to some property trend watchers, but according to Brett Cownley, co-franchisee with his mother Chiara Cownley for the Rawson Property Group’s Edenglen franchise, Edenvale, which is sited slightly to the east of the Johannesburg CBD, is one of relatively few major Johannesburg precincts where, after recording spectacular house price rises in the 2002 to 2006 era, the subsequent performance has also been “more than satisfactory”.
“The average price of a freestanding Edenvale home, says Cownley, is now just on R1 million. This is almost exactly 20% up on the 2010 price.”
Right now, he says, buyers of any home in the sought after R800,000 to R1,3 million bracket can confidently expect at least a 5 to 7% annual price growth. What is more, the demand for homes has become so strong that he feels that prices are likely to rise even faster in the next two years.
The main reasons for Edenvale’s popularity, says Cownley, are, quite simply, its affordable home prices and its highly convenient position off the R24 and only 12 km from the centre of Johannesburg. Edenvale is also close to the OR Tambo International Airport and has quick access to the freeways leading to Tshwane. In addition to these factors, he says, being a well-established and older
The same factors which have pushed up home sale prices have, says Cownley, had an even more marked effect on the area’s rental stock, which, he estimates, comprises 32% of sectional title units and 68% of freehold homes in the area.
In this precinct, sectional rents can be anything from R3,500 to R9,000 per month and they are rising at an even faster rate than the freehold homes. The majority of rents for freehold homes, by contrast, are between R8,000 and R10,000 per month.
Before joining the Rawson Property Group, this agency survived almost entirely on rentals, with the result that today they have a large management portfolio, which they are increasing month by month.
“The reason why my mother was successful with her rental portfolio,” says Cownley, “is that, appreciating that many owners wanted to be hands-off, she provided a full management package. Our services today include everything from selecting the tenant and collecting the rents, to maintaining the building, paying the rates and taxes and in some cases even paying the bond. We are known for doing regular and thorough inspections of all the rental properties we handle and this is definitely the secret to success in this field.”
Many people find the cosmopolitan nature of Edenvale stimulating and enjoyable. The area, which is in fact made up of some 15 different suburbs, each carrying its own name, at one stage, says Cownley, had a rather plain middle to lower income group image, most of its houses, although neat and soundly built, having very little architectural merit. In recent times, he says, all that has changed because in the new areas like Greenstone, now already 75% developed, new development has been on-going and this has usually been with modern, even avant garde, designs. What is more, the housing component has been complemented by some excellent new shopping malls, making it no longer necessary for residents to go to Eastgate, Sandton City or anywhere else.
In Greenstone the majority of prices from the developers with whom the Rawson Property Group is involved, are priced between R2 million and R3,5 million (or more) for free standing homes and between R600,000 to R1.2 million for sectional title units. These units are almost always sold well before the development has been completed.
Looking ahead, Cownley’s team expect to almost double their sales turnover before the end of 2014. The only factors holding them back, says Brett Cownley, are a shortage of stock and the fairly high, though understandable, rejection rate on mortgage bond applications.
The Rawson Property Group team, he says, has a lot going for it, but perhaps one of its chief characteristics is its youthfulness. Cownley is in fact only 29, their top sales agent, Lekaba Mogatosi is 30 and Felicity Ziyambi, their rental agent is only 26. All, incidentally, are university graduates, thereby fitting in with the norm in the Rawson Property Group throughout South Africa today, where a higher percentage of the staff have tertiary qualifications — which was not the case 10 years ago.