Areas and Places

Young execs choose North Riding property market

Tucked into the eastern quadrant of the intersection between Malibongwe Drive and Witkoppen Road, the suburb of North Riding has developed over the past 10 years into one of the more popular choices for up-and-coming young buyers in greater Johannesburg.

It was once an area consisting largely of smallholdings on the city’s peri-urban northern outskirts – adjoining a suburb that was actually just labelled “Johannesburg North” – but most of these plots have now been extensively subdivided and redeveloped into sectional title apartment and townhouse complexes, gated villages and boutique estates, to the point where only about 5% of the properties in North Riding are traditional freehold suburban homes.

According to property data company Lightstone, it is also one of the busiest suburbs in Johannesburg in terms of property sales, with some 250 sectional title transfers and 170 cluster/estate home transfers having been registered there in the past 12 months.

“Not surprisingly”, says Taryn Steven, the local Rawson Property Group franchisee, it is also a ‘young’ suburb where 70% of homeowners are under the age of 50 and about 60% have lived in the area for fewer than seven years. “What is more, almost half (46%) of the current buyers in the area are people below the age of 35, because it offers all the modern, lock-up-and-go security and convenience they prefer.”

Thanks to its location, North Riding is within easy reach of the Roodepoort and Randburg business centres and, via the N1 Western Bypass, to Fourways, Sandton, Woodmead and Midrand. However, notes Steven, a great many of its residents don’t even have to commute that far as they work in the huge KyaSands and Northlands manufacturing, warehousing and business complexes just to the north-west or the Northgate office park to the west.

“And they are also spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping centres right on their doorstep,” she says. “These include the All Saints centre, North Riding Square, the North Riding Décor Centre and of course the Northgate regional mall, which also offers a variety of entertainment options, including a movie multiplex, an ice rink and the neighbouring Ticketpro Dome concert and expo venue”.

“Then for those who prefer to eat out, there are also plenty of restaurants, pubs and fast food outlets in North Riding, mostly located in the Bel Air Mall and around the busy intersection of Malibongwe and Bellairs Drive.”

All of this, Steven says, makes the suburb particularly attractive to busy entrepreneurs, executives and professionals with young families – working parents who really don’t have the time to manage or maintain a traditional suburban home and garden, and also want the additional security that they and their families get from living in a gated and guarded complex.

To cater to their needs, North Riding has at least a dozen nursery and pre-primary schools, five primary schools (Bataleur College, Vuleka St Mark’s, Trinity House Prep, PLG North Riding Academy and North Riding College) and its own new high school.

“And many of the newer complexes and estates also have communal facilities such as a pool, tennis courts, a laundry, a gym, play parks, braai areas and a clubhouse that further reduce the need to spend any leisure time in the traffic.”

According to Lightstone, the average price of sectional title homes sold in North Riding this year is R990 000 (compared to R660 000 in 2006), and the average price of cluster/freehold homes sold this year is R1,6 million (compared to R950 000 in 2006).

Asking prices for the North Riding homes that are currently being advertised for sale range from around R480 000 for bachelor/studio apartments, from around R550 000 for two bedroom apartments and from around R800 000 for three bedroom, two bathroom apartments.

Sectional title townhouses start at around R650 000 for units with two bedrooms and one bathroom, and range up to about R1,8 million for free-standing family units with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Three bedroom freehold homes in cluster developments are available at prices from around R1,1 million, while a four or five bedroom luxury home in one of North Riding’s exclusive estates could cost anything between R3,8 million and about R8 million.