The Parks community: A place to call home

Estate agents are increasingly finding that a sense of community and history is highly sought after in today’s residential property market. This desire for belonging, neighbourliness and rootedness is largely the result of modern-day stresses and economic pressures experienced in recent years.

As the commercial hub of South Africa, Johannesburg sees high volumes of people coming and going all the time; it does not seem a likely place to find a robust sense of community. Yet there are some areas where community commitment is notably strong. ‘The Parks’, an area comprising Parktown North, Parkview and Parkwood, is a place where residents feel comfortable walking their dogs and children can still be seen riding bicycles on quiet tree-lined avenues.

Shirley Finnemore, Pam Golding Properties (PGP) estate agent for the Parks, has lived here for many years, ever since she relocated from the Eastern Cape, and knows the area and its residents well. “The Parks community is passionate about keeping the character of the area and surrounds intact, and many active residents’ associations have sprung up in recent years. These associations maintain parks and children's playgrounds, employ street sweepers in shopping areas and support the community shopping precincts.”

Shirley is a strong advocate of community-centric living. “Both my business partner at Pam Golding Properties, Byron Thomas, and I enjoy playing an active part in the community, so we decided some time ago to sponsor the gardener at Parkview Library.”

The long-term nature of the two real estate agents’ partnership has enabled them to become involved in a range of community-orientated activities, including providing assistance to the local Community Policing Forum, as well as providing uniforms and lawnmowers for the local ‘Green Team’, which maintains public open spaces.

Finnemore says acquiring property in the Parks area has proven a sound investment, both for herself and her PGP clients over the years, and as a result she finds it rewarding to introduce new residents to the community: “Johannesburg is the business centre of the entire country, and the Parks area is highly sought-after as a residential location within this key node, thereby contributing to the secure, long-term investment potential.”

Homes in the area are in a price bracket of R2 million and upwards, within reach of a wider buying market, she adds. As a result, residential property in the Parks has shown sustainability in regard to the demand for homes, and in maintaining and growing its value over the years, despite economic challenges.

The area also has great appeal in terms of convenience with major hospitals and good schools within a five-kilometre radius, excellent shopping centres and easy access to the airport through the nearby Gautrain Rosebank station, which Shirley enjoys using: “Gone are the days when one had to put aside hours to drop anyone off at OR Tambo, having to contend with further traffic congestion on the return trip.”

But it is the special attributes of the Parks that keep Shirley a committed resident and property agent here. “There are beautiful public parks with sporting and recreational facilities right on our doorstep, including the iconic Zoo Lake just off Jan Smuts Avenue. The world-class Johannesburg Zoo next to the Lake is a popular family visiting spot.” Shirley loves the old homes in the Parks that date back to the turn of the last century, she says. “Many have the sought-after features so popular with buyers today - strip Oregon flooring and high, ornate pressed ceilings. We see many creative renovations and it is always a treat to be invited in to admire the changes made by inspired owners.”

One particularly memorable ‘Old Johannesburg’ property in Parktown North, dating back about a century, epitomises the kind of property transactions Shirley enjoys – those that combine financial wisdom with a passion for assisting people to find the right home: “It looks like a grand old manor home, which could have inspired Emily Bronte to write Wuthering Heights. It was sold to a couple who fell in love with it and bought it within hours of seeing it.”

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