Research Residential

First-time homebuyers opt for Highlands North in Johannesburg East

Highlands North is home to Balfour Mall (image credit: Balfour Mall website)

The value of property transactions and the volume of sales in Johannesburg East, which is dominated by Highlands North, have risen since 2020.

This was good news for a region that had seen annual sales gradually fall since the boom sales year of 1996 – although prices had been climbing steadily since 1998, and spiked in late 2015 and early 2016, says Hayley Ivins-Downes, Head of Digital at Lightstone.

Johannesburg East’s property stock consists of 3 330 properties, dominated by Highlands North (1 307 – 39%), followed by Oaklands (644 – 19%), Orchards (587 – 18%), The Gardens (407 – 12%), Cheltondale (236 – 7%), Abbotsford (108 – 3%), Forbesdale (22 – 1%) and Hawkins Estate (19 – 1%).

Ivins-Downes says that Highlands North had the most properties in Johannesburg East, but also the largest spread, with properties in each of the six price bands. Highlands North accounted for all properties below R500 000, while other price bands were more or less spread across the suburbs.

The suburbs contribution to property

While Highlands North had a full spread of price bands, the average value of a transfer in 2022 was the second lowest in Johannesburg East at R1.409 million, less than half of the region’s highest average value of R3.2 million in Oaklands. Forbesdale, a tiny suburb sandwiched between Orchards, Maryvale and Cheltondale, had the lowest average value in Joburg East at R900 000.

The average value of transfers per suburb

Most of Johannesburg East’s stock (90%) was valued at more than R1 million, with the largest price band being R1.5 million – R3 million (40%).

Value band of property

Interestingly, of the region’s 3 330 properties, 1 445 (43%) were developed after 1994 with most of the development having taken place in Oaklands and Highlands North, followed by Orchards and The Gardens. There has been little development in the other suburbs.

Of the development, the bulk in Highlands North (95%) were Freehold while the majority in Oaklands were Sectional Title (58%), followed by Freehold (32%) and Estate (10%). Sectional Title had dominated development in The Gardens (84%) while Orchards was more or less evenly balanced between Freehold (52%) and Sectional Title and Estate (48%).

Most transfers were recorded in Highlands North, and in 2021 it accounted for nearly double that of Oaklands. This is in contrast to 2019 when the gap between the two suburbs was relatively small.

First-time buyers by suburb

Ivins-Downes said there were more first-time buyers in 2021 than any year since 2015, with most opting for Highlands North followed by Oaklands and then Orchards. The proportion of first-time buyers (37% in 2022) is well short of the 59% recorded in 1994 – the best year of the period for first-time buyers.

In 2001, under 35s accounted for 53% of buyers, as opposed to 37% in 2021. The largest market (see graph below) was the 36 to 49 age group, with 42% in 2021, followed by under 35s at 38%. The 50 to 64 age group accounted for 13% and the 65+ category just 7% – half of what the senior age group recorded in 2017”, she says.