The leafy suburbs that make up the area known as The Parks in Johannesburg North, offers a unique bouquet of property investment opportunities, and most importantly – a quality of life that is a walk in the park.
“You’re buying into a lifestyle,” says Lorraine Hurdus of Jawitz Properties, servicing Parks’ suburbs Craighall, Craighall Park, and Hurlingham. “The Delta is the green hub where people go walking and jogging every day, cycling, they walk their dogs, there are stables, restaurants – it’s a lovely vibe.”
“People use their outdoor spaces, particularly in my area where property stands are smaller,” adds Shelley-Ann Solms of Jawitz Properties who works in Parkhurst where 495m2 is the general stand size.
“It’s the ultimate Sunday lifestyle in The Parks, only it’s almost like Sunday every day,” adds Gail Katz of Jawitz Properties who services Parkwood. She notes that the quality of life is a major draw card to The Parks, particularly for parents.
Park life in the city
One of the big factors influencing buyer demand is the development happening in Sandton. Traffic is a major issue and because of the excellent schools in The Parks – both private and public, some of which are zoned in that pupils have to live close by to attend – families are looking to relocate. “They want their children to receive the best education, as well as to be close to schools where they can enjoy extra-mural activities generally held at school or close by, and can avoid spending hours on the roads each day back and forth. Again, it comes down to quality of life,” says Katz.
“The Parks are also very safe because of the Residents’ Associations in each suburb, making outdoor living and all the great aspects that come with it very appealing to parents and other prospective buyers,” adds Solms.
The close proximity to the Gautrain, Rosebank node and Hyde Park Shopping Centre to name a few attractions, also contribute to the area’s sought-after address.
There is a perception that certain suburbs of The Parks are more exclusive or elite than others, but interestingly average prices indicate a similarity across the board, bar a few exceptions at the top end of the market. “There is almost something for everyone – it really depends on what you are looking for. In my areas, beautiful character homes are synonymous, but many homes have been upgraded and renovated, bringing a modern, contemporary vibe and feel to The Parks,” says Glynis Van Zuydam of Jawitz Properties operating in Parkview and Parktown North.
Some properties lend themselves to the possibility of renovations, while the older, heritage homes often require preservation in addition to permission to make alterations.
Larger homes in Parkwood or Parktown North, for example have potential to renovate old staff facilities into lettable spaces to supplement income. Any previous worries of over-captalising are a thing of the past. Airbnb is of course popular, and while there are apartments available too, there are however, no high-rise apartment buildings unlike in other areas of Johannesburg. “The largest apartment block only has 48 units,” Hurdus adds. Entry-level in Craighall and Craighall Park is around the early R2- R3million price range, but the average price is R4.5- R5 million, while the upper end is around R6.5 – R8 million”.
Interestingly, in Craighall Park some free-standing homes are on stands of 2000m2, so in essence property owners who sub-divide could get R1.8 million for their garden alone. A 1000m2 stand can accommodate a large new-build, and this is contributing to a climb in prices.
Sub-division is still an opportunity though not present in every part of The Parks.
“Very little sub-division is still happening in Parktown North and Parkview,” says Van Zuydam. “The smallest stand permitted is 750m2, although there are exceptions. Currently, on average, entry level into Parktown North is around R2.65 million and Parkview around R2.8 million. On the upper end of the market Parktown North is currently achieving sales around R9.5 million and Parkview around R7.3 million. On average, stand sizes are around 1200m2, but do vary, with larger stands ranging from 1500m2 to 2000m2, and very sought after in The Parks.”
Parkwood meanwhile, perceived to be the most exclusive is a diverse area where prices as high as R13 million have been achieved. “The bulk of sales, however, are in the late R6 millions at the top end, and R3 million at the lower end,” says Katz.
In Parkhurst, the low end is around R2.6 million and the high end, R5.5 million, though higher prices have also been achieved. “There are only a few properties that can still be renovated,” Solms says.
Across the board indicates that a budget of R3 million could buy you a home in any of The Parks’ suburbs.
Parking can be a slight issue in some parts, but equally, living in The Parks means most amenities are in walking distance. While in a lot of areas of Johannesburg a car is essential, The Parks’ position almost negates the need entirely. The hospitality and shopping options are quite unique too. “There aren’t many franchises. Usually it is the smaller, one-of-a-kind businesses that do well here. There is even push-back against more commercial use properties to enter, keeping trade areas to a minimum” adds Solms.
“While commercial use has crept a little further than desired into certain parts of the suburbs, it is being closely monitored and contained. In Parkview, it has been known that properties that had commercial rights some years back that re-enter the market, have not maintained their commercial status but been reinstated as ‘residential’ once again, in order to preserve the integrity of the suburb,” adds Van Zuydam.
‘Green’ and outdoor living really is key here, where most restaurants offer water bowls for canine patrons, and in Parkhurst for example, electric car charging points and the aim to be off the grid entirely by 2020. A ‘pavement lifestyle’ also comes to life throughout The Parks, blending beautifully with park life. “It is very continental, with a European feel,” adds Katz.
“The early risers enjoy the sunrise and contribute to the breakfast trade and even when the sun goes down, people are milling around, happily passing the time in The Parks,” Hurdus concludes.