Areas and Places

Area focus and history: Bedfordview

Situated in upper Bedfordview this beautiful cluster home is perfect for executives. It has four en suite bedrooms, open plan kitchen, dining room, lounge, garden and pool area. There is ample parking and great security making it a rare find in Bedfordview. Priced at R9.5million.

Bedfordview is situated on the East Rand and is home to some 22000 residents who live in Bedford Gardens, Bedford Park, Senderwood and St Andrews and in the smaller suburbs of Oriel, Essexwold and Morninghill.

The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and many large corporates have their head-offices in Bedfordview, all within a ten minutes’ drive to OR Tambo International Airport and within easy reach of the national highways. Families with growing children, are spoilt for choice with nine private and model-C schools nearby. Restaurants and coffee shops abound and the up-market Bedford Centre and East Gate shopping centre have cinemas and an eclectic mix of the big brand retail stores. For the sports enthusiast, there is the ever popular Glendower Golf Club, some of the large gyms and a number of sporting clubs.

The area known today as Bedfordview is steeped in history going back to the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886. The gold rush created a super wealthy class of miners and industrialists amongst whom was Randlord, Sir George Farrar, founder of the East Rand mines.

Farrar bought a large farm on what was then called Elandsfontein which he named Bedford, after his hometown in England. As a mining magnate and soldier he was well connected to the influential politicians of the day and commissioned Sir Herbert Baker as the architect to design his exquisite mansion, Bedford Court. Lord Alfred Milner, British High Commissioner of South Africa and governor of the Cape Colony between 1897 and 1899, laid the foundation stone in 1903.

The story goes that a young girl won a competition to name the suburb, calling it Bedford View because of its beautiful vistas, and to this day, the homestead remains one of the prestige heritage buildings in Bedfordview and home to St Andrews School for girls. A century later, the school is recognised as one of the leading girls’ schools in South Africa.

Lester Schalit, Jawitz Properties’ East Rand manager says that residential property in Bedfordview is looking up, particularly in the upper and lower-to middle- sectional title parts of the market “On the whole, these sectors have held their own this year and are showing signs of positivity. Supply and demand always plays a role in pricing as well as external factors such as the bank lending criteria and the economy,” he says.

“Year-on-year unit sales and prices in the stand-alone market have remained relatively flat with the sectional title market growing positively at 7%. This can be attributed to the increase in first-time buyers moving into the market and the recently introduced transfer duty breaks. The new year began with a stock shortage, but demand has increased during the second quarter of the year,” he says.

A four bedroom home in Bedfordview on a 1500m² stand goes for about R4m and a two- bedroom sectional title will cost around R1.2m. First-time buyers, eager to enter the market would pay between R650 000 – R700 000 for a one bedroom/bachelor unit. The majority of units sold come from the sectional title market, but freehold properties make up the bulk of the rand value. First-time registrations have improved significantly.

Lightstone’s statistics from January to April this year, point to 57 freehold registrations in 2014 versus 52 this year and 101 sectional title units last year versus 97 this year across the eight suburbs. Bond approvals for the first six months are up by 0.54% from 74.67% to 75.08% in 2014/15 according to OOBA bond originator. Demand in Bedfordview still out-ranks the other areas, where security is not only a priority, but an essential in these upmarket clusters.

Foreigner demand tends to focus more on rentals than sales. Interestingly, sectional-title apartments are favoured by visitors from fellow African countries as properties at home have become unaffordable. Bedfordview’s cosmopolitan lifestyle, amenities and its proximity to the airport and highways lend their appeal. Downscaling, upgrading and first-time buyers make up the balance and continue to fuel the bulk of the demand.

Typically, sellers always push for top prices and buyers are continually looking for bargains. Genuine sellers tend to understand the dynamics of the market and know that, when a property is priced competitively, there will be more than one party interested and resulting driving the price as the buyers compete.

Investors are always on the lookout for areas where they can be assured of high rental yields. Student accommodation near universities is proving to deliver on this promise and yield prospects are good.

Stand sizes are above average in Bedfordview, and make way for cluster style living after existing homes have been demolished. This of course is supported by the City Council that is intent on alleviating the housing shortage. On the other hand many owners prefer to do their own extensive renovations rather than selling.

“For the most part rentals remain buoyant with healthy supply and demand particularly in the lower- to middle-income sector. Prices obviously vary from unit to unit, but the average monthly price for a bachelor flat would be R5500 – R6000 and around R8500 – R9000 for a two-bedroom apartment. A three-bedroom house in a sought-after area would start at R20 000 per month,” says Schalit.