Bryanston’s growing sectional title sector driving the suburb’s market

For decades, upmarket Bryanston in northern Johannesburg was a quiet haven of small-holdings and expansive homes on large plots spread along leafy, tree-lined streets, but rampant densification in recent years has radically transformed the landscape and pushed the sectional title sector to 43% of residential property in the suburb.

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Carol Bensimon, Sectional Title Area Specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says the Bryanston that existed a decade ago has altered significantly, with small-holdings entirely gone.

“Many of the larger, rambling plots have also been subdivided into smaller stands that have subsequently been developed into cluster complexes and apartments. This development trend has clearly changed Bryanston’s buyer and residential demographics and there is now huge demand for sectional title properties that are young investors’ gateway homes into this exclusive market.

“Currently most sought-after are the cost-effective and secure modern, low maintenance simplexes. Young investors seeking these homes mostly comprise first time buyers and young families getting onto the property ladder. Another notable market is long-standing Bryanston residents who’ve become ‘empty-nesters’ and want to downsize without leaving the suburb.”

According to Bensimon, the spike in demand for these homes has resulted in a dearth of sale stock.

“These units are already proverbial hens’ teeth and I can’t see the stock situation improving in the medium term, so when they do hit the market move quickly, because they’re excellent investment prospects that’ll yield solid short and long-term returns.”

Lew Geffen, Chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says Bryanston’s continued appeal underpinning its stable market is that it has remained an aspirant and desirable suburb, despite the densification that has introduced more accessibly-priced sectional title homes.

“An analysis of Lighstone data for the 12 months ending 30 April this year reveals that the sectional title sector is by far the most active market, accounting for 312 of the 672 repeat sales during this period, while 185 freehold properties changed hands and 175 estate properties were sold.

“Interestingly, the sectional title sales were widely spread across all the price bands with the most sales falling in the R800 000 to R1.5 million bracket at an average sale price of R1.16m while the second most active price band was apartments in the R1.5m to R3m segment at an average of R1.96m.

“There were 41 sales for less than R800 000 and, although least active, the top end of the market was far from dormant with 20 sales of properties priced higher than R3m, realising an average price of R3.6m.”

Geffen notes that Bryanston’s sectional title market seems to have escaped the knock-on effects of the wallowing national economy and unsettling recent political events that have been slowing property sales in many other areas.

“According to Lightstone, 82 sectional title properties were sold during the final quarter of the 12 months under review, which accounts for 26.2% of the 312 title deed transfers. It’s encouraging that we’ve started 2017 with so much activity in the Bryanston sectional title market, which augers well for the remainder of the year.

“Although the R800 000 to R1.5m bracket was still the most active segment, the biggest jump in sales volume was seen at the upper end of the market (R3m+), where 14 of the total 12 months’ sales occurred during the last three reporting months.”

In notable contrast, Bryanston’s freehold title sector has not performed as well in 2017. In the last three months of Lightstone’s reporting period from May 2016 to April 2017 only 39 (21%) of the year’s 185 house sales took place.

As for who lives in the area, Brent Bensimon, partner Area Specialist, says Bryanston’s residential demographic has undergone a complete evolution in the past 10 years.

“A decade ago, at least half of the residents would have owned their homes for 11 years or longer, having moved in as young families and staying on until the children left home.

“The current picture is very different. The number of long-standing home owners has dropped to around 25%, while 40% of residents purchased their homes less than five years ago.

“There has also been a surge in young and first-time buyers, who account for around 40% of Bryanston’s new investors over the past year.”

Bensimon adds that a spinoff of the robust sectional title sector in such an aspirant suburb is an active rental market with growing numbers of buy-to-let investors attracted by the realisation of solid returns.

According to Geffen, the area’s prolific growth has also spurred commercial development as well as upgrades to existing amenities.

“In addition to new developments like the Nicolway Shopping Centre, upgrades to existing shopping facilities include trendy restaurants and cafes and two popular gyms.

“The Bryanston Country Club with its 18-hole golf course and range of sports facilities remains one of the most popular amenities and outdoor enthusiasts love the PWC Bike Park and Park Run.”

Bensimon says besides the excellent local facilities and Bryanston’s proximity to the financial hub of Sandton as well as major arterials, one of its biggest drawcards is the number of first-rate schools in the area. “If you’re raising a family, Bryanston is definitely where you want to be,” she concludes.

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