High demand puts a new bloom on Florida property market

Named after a particularly verdant valley in the hills to the west of Johannesburg, the suburb of Florida started life as a mining camp just after the discovery of gold in the 1880s and, like many parts of the city, has had quite a chequered history.

“This was very much a blue-collar area to start with,” says local Rawson Property Group franchisee Gerald Houston, “and the older homes here are similar to the standard ‘mine houses’ and low-rise ‘council flats’ one can find in many other former dormitory suburbs right across the Witwatersrand.

“However as it grew, it gave rise to the surrounding suburbs of Florida Lake, Florida Park, Florida Hills, Florida View and Florida Glen, where each new generation of residents built more modern homes and apartments so that today, there is a huge variety of properties on offer. Average prices in these areas range all the way from around R350 000 for a flat in Florida Lake, to R2,1 million for a large and luxurious family home in Florida Hills.”

In the course of its development, he notes, Florida obviously became a distinctly middle-class node before going through something of a decline in the 1990s and early 2000s and then becoming popular again due to its excellent location and affordability.

“And these two factors currently make it especially attractive to younger buyers, with people in their 20s and early 30s accounting for up to 70% of all property purchases in older areas such as Florida, Florida North and Florida Lake, according to property data company Lightstone.”

Houston says these areas are located less than 20 km from the centre of Johannesburg and the Roodepoort and Randburg CBDs, offer easy access to the N1 freeway and are well-served by public transport for those who would prefer not to commute by car.

“Prices have risen quite steeply in the past few years but flats are still available from around R280 000 for a two bedroom, one bathroom unit in Florida proper to about R700 000 for a three bedroom, two bathroom unit with a garage.”

The average house price in these areas, he says, ranges from around R850 000 in Florida Lake to about R1,1 million in Florida North, and there are still many older homes priced at less than R800 000. “Most of these are good renovation prospects and offer those with a penchant for home improvement the opportunity to get into a good area relatively cheaply, build equity by upgrading their homes, and climb the property ladder in the neighbouring suburbs.

“And as this happens, these areas are steadily being revitalised and becoming increasingly trendy. Many new sectional title developments have also gone up in recent years and these offer modern apartments and townhouses for young buyers at prices from around R450 000.”  

Houston says Florida is also home to a number of sought-after schools, including Florida Primary, Laerskool Florida, Florida Park High and Hoërskool Florida, and that this attracts many buyers in the 35 to 50 age-group with school going children, who now account for the majority of home purchases in the newer and more upmarket areas of Florida Park, Florida Hills, Florida View and Florida Glen.

“The homes here are much larger and more modern and the average house price ranges from about R1,35 million to R2,1 million, while the top end of the market currently is just over R5 million for a six bedroom, five bathroom mansion recently sold in Florida Hills.”  

Other attractions in the Florida node include a Unisa campus, Florida College, a large selection of local shopping centres, the Roodepoort Theatre, the soccer, hockey, cricket, tennis, and squash facilities at Trezona Park and the Florida Lake itself, which is popular for canoeing and sailing.

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