There are of course all sorts of external variables – like interest rates, or work circumstances or family changes – that can influence consumers to buy a new home or not. But once they have decided to buy, their choice of home and location will generally depend only on affordability, security and convenience, and the varying combinations of these three factors are what actually give shape and form to most real estate markets.
So says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, who notes: “In Gauteng, for example, the two main items currently driving home choices among young first-time buyers are affordability and security, and we see this reflected very clearly in the popularity of the new apartment, townhouse and estate developments that offer two and three bedroom homes for under R1 million as well as good security and, preferably, easy access to shops and either a public transport hub or a major employment node”.
Areas that offer many such developments – and which are currently experiencing high numbers of sales as a result, he says, include Crystal Park and Modderbee in Benoni; Cosmo City; parts of Johannesburg’s new south; Grand Central and Noordwyk in Midrand; Die Hoewes and Rooihuiskraal in Centurion, and Hatfield, Annlin, Doornpoort and Pretoria North in Tshwane.
The busiest of these areas is arguably Die Hoewes where, according to property data company Lightstone, sectional title sales have topped 500 in the past 12 months, at an average price of R782 000.
In the same period, Noordwyk has notched up 254 sectional title sales at an average price of R806 000; Annlin 233 sectional title sales at an average price of R711 000; Pretoria North 192 sectional title sales at an average price of R449 000; Grand Central 132 sectional title sales at an average of R624 000 and Doornpoort 126 sectional title sales at an average of R809 000.
Rawson says that for older buyers, who have usually built up some equity in a first property that they can use as a deposit on the purchase of their second or third homes, affordability is often not as much of a concern as security and, if they have children, easy access to good schools.
“And it is this particular combination of the three main factors that we currently see driving consistent demand for the upmarket homes in lifestyle estates that have their own schools, such as Dainfern, Cornwall Hill, Midstream, Waterfall and Woodhill, and for secure homes in areas such as Bedfordview, Parkview, Parktown, Fourways, Kyalami, Brooklyn, Menlo Park and Lynnwood, which have long been sought-after for their proximity to a choice of highly-rated public and private schools.”
The Lightstone statistics show that in Midstream, for example, there have been 372 homes sales in the past 12 months at an average of R3,1 million, while in Bedfordview, there have been 308 sales, mostly of cluster homes and sectional title homes, at an average price of R2,9 million, he notes.
“Other leading performers include Kyalami, where there have been more than 235 sales of estate and sectional title homes in the past 12 months at an average price of around R2,5 million, Fourways/Fourways Gardens, where there have been 191 sales at an average price of around R2,6 million and Lynnwood, with 132 sales at an average of R2,6 million.”
The two other trends that are currently having the most influence on demand patterns in Gauteng, says Rawson, are downsizing and new urbanism. “The former is occurring mostly among those whose children are grown and who are seeking to move to smaller homes and achieve a combination of more security, lower maintenance requirements (more convenience) and relief from rising property operating costs”.
“And it is boosting demand for the luxury cluster homes that are now being built on the very large stands in traditionally affluent areas such as Bryanston, Houghton, Hyde Park, Sandhurst and Waterkloof, and for homes in the increasing number of upscale retirement villages that are now springing up across the region.”
Meanwhile, he says, new urbanism – or the desire to live closer to urban hubs in order to reduce commuting and be within walking distance of work, shops, recreation and schools – is having a dual effect. “On the one hand it is driving young executives and professionals to snap up new apartments in rejuvenated central areas such as Auckland Park, Braamfontein, New Doornfontein, Rosebank and Rivonia in Johannesburg and Hatfield and Menlo Park in Pretoria, where everything they need is conveniently close at hand and they are able to afford their relatively expensive but high-security homes by saving both time and money on transport”.
“On the other, it is encouraging many young families to buy older homes in the heritage suburbs and remodel them to suit modern security and lifestyle requirements. In this way, they are able to gain more affordable entry into what have traditionally been the most expensive suburbs, and still pursue their dream of living conveniently close to the best schools, shops and other amenities.”