Anyone tracking the house price movements in Ferndale, the Randburg suburb some 20 km north of central Johannesburg, will discover that, in the 2009-2011 era, prices, hard hit by the global recession, dropped throughout this precinct by as much as 25%. However, says Merrick Meek, the Rawson Property Group’s franchisee for Ferndale and Bryanston, the last two years have witnessed a truly remarkable upswing which shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
“House prices,” says Meek, “are now on a recovery path. My most conservative estimate would put the rises at 5 to 8% and in many areas it is quite clear that they are above the national average of 8,5%. This means that we are back to and often exceeding the 2007/2008 price levels.”
At the moment, he says, demand is so strong that any correctly priced sectional title or freestanding unit in Ferndale will probably sell within two to four weeks. Meek has, in eight cases out of ten, asked only for a 30 day mandate, knowing well that if the home does not sell within that time it has some serious fault or is overpriced.
Looking at Ferndale, says Meek, it embraces some 13 demarcated precincts and suburbs, many of them like Kensington B, Lyme Park, Bordeaux and Bryanbrink as well as two or three Bryanston extensions, which are well-established and well-known. Some of these, e.g. Hurlingham Manor, have homes priced from R2,5 million to R4 million plus, but the vast majority of freestanding house sales in Ferndale still take place in the R1,5 million to R2,6 million bracket, while the average price for a sectional title unit is around R660,000. In view of the strong demand being experienced throughout the area, says Meek, prices could have been expected to be rising even faster, but they have been ‘kept reasonable’ by a massive influx over the last six to 18 months of sectional title property developers. These, he says, had to wait for as much as four years for the power and service installations to be finished but now that this process has been completed they are on track to deliver an estimated 650 sectional title units within the next two years.
Most of these, says Meek, are in the R550,000 to R1,1 million bracket and their coming onto the market has resulted in sellers of older Ferndale homes having to be ‘a little more reasonable’ in their prices because the new units definitely provide serious competition. Throughout Ferndale, adds Meek, there is no shortage of potential buyers.
“The reasons for the popularity of the area,” he says, “are straightforward and easily understood. Johannesburg residents increasingly want to live here on account of very obvious attractions. These are:
- The large number of good schools, both state and private as well as English and Afrikaans speaking;
- The strategic central position of Ferndale, making it possible for residents to enjoy reasonably quick commuting times to the Sandton, Rosebank and Rivonia business areas; and
- The high standard of the homes and gardens in the area and of the retail centres, sports clubs and, more particularly, the golf clubs.
“Ferndale,” says Meek, “is now an upper middle bracket area. With price rises so clearly taking place, buyers can no longer afford to wait around.”
“Just the other day,” he says, “I met a potential home buyer who really liked a R1,8 million property, but hesitated for two days before putting in his offer – only to find that it had been sold. In the circumstances we are now experiencing, if buyers are determined to avoid disappointment they cannot afford to delay making an offer once they have found a property they like.”