New development flourishing in big-ticket suburbs

New development is changing the face of several of Johannesburg’s leafy heritage suburbs now – and making them even more appealing to high-end buyers.

This six- bedroom, six-bathroom home in Atholl is currently for sale through Sotheby’s International Realty for R16m. It offers a spacious lounge, formal and informal dining areas, a separate TV room, state-of-the-art kitchen, fitted bar-room, fitted study, underground wine store, two luxury staff suites, three garages and a solar-heated saltwater pool set in a lush tropical garden. It also boasts many energy-saving features including heat pumps, solar geysers and underfloor heating, and there is separate two-bedroom cottage on the property, which has excellent security and a guardhouse.

In Atholl, Inanda and Illovo, for example, land is in huge demand at the moment for the development of upmarket cluster homes and boutique estates, according to Sotheby’s International Realty area specialists Arlene and Leon Carroll, who say many homebuyers here are also purchasing for position – that is, they are buying older homes on a large stand with the intention of demolishing it to make way for their dream contemporary mansion.

“Position, position, position is definitely the key driver of demand in these areas,” they say, “because they are so central to the Sandton, Rosebank and Johannesburg business centres, and close to the city’s best shopping venues, top schools and even the Gautrain network, especially for those who often travel abroad via OR Tambo International.

“Homes here have clearly become increasingly sought-after in recent years as resistance to long commutes in heavy traffic has grown and the tide of decentralisation to luxury estates on the outskirts of the city has been reversed. Here one can be close to everything while still experiencing a peaceful, ‘country’ atmosphere.”

However, they note, a shortage of homes for sale in these areas has been a constraint on purchasing until recently, with existing owners – quite understandably – being reluctant to sell. “In addition, many of the original homes are quite dated and difficult to renovate or retrofit to accommodate modern lifestyles and the ‘green’ features and energy-saving equipment now favoured by so many high-end buyers.

This large five-bedroom, six-bathroom home on a 4000sqm stand in Atholl is currently for sale through Sotheby’s International Realty for R25m. Recently refurbished, it offers a formal lounge, formal and informal dining rooms, a family room, home theatre, games room, chef’s kitchen and spacious covered entertainment patio leading to the landscaped garden and feature pool. It also has two staff suites, three garages and very good security.

“On the other hand, although there is quite a lot of land still available for new development here, it is relatively expensive compared to land in less central areas, and when home prices crashed following the 2008/ 09 financial crisis, it was just not viable for several years for developers to try to build and sell new homes here.

“This of course led to an even greater shortage of stock – and also ensured that prices rose as demand continued to exceed supply. And that has led, as it will, to existing owners becoming more willing to sell now, and to developers coming back into the area with fabulous new offerings to meet the demands of the affluent buyers who want to live here.”

And these buyers are a very mixed group, the agents say, ranging from top executives and professionals who want to live close to Sandton, through families that are upgrading to seniors that are downscaling. “Generally we find that the upscaling purchasers are looking to live close to the highly-rates schools in these areas and want homes with large, level gardens. Those who are downscaling and retiring tend to prefer cluster homes for convenience, while top executives generally focus on high security in boomed-off nodes with private access.”

There is no doubt, however, about the willingness of any of these buyers to pay a premium to live in Atholl, Illovo or Inanda. “The entry-level for these suburbs is between R4m and R5m, but the highest demand at the moment is for houses and cluster homes in the R6m to R8m price range, while homes in secure nodes and luxury clusters are selling well at prices from R12m to R25m, depending on their age, position and size.”

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