Johannesburg’s best kept secret

With its magnificent views and ancient trees; wide, clean streets and every amenity that residents could wish for within easy reach, Houghton Estate remains one of the most pleasant Johannesburg suburbs to live in.

“Houghton Estate, which consists of Upper Houghton to the south and Lower Houghton to the north, is one of Johannesburg’s best kept secrets,” suggests Rupert Finnemore, Pam Golding Properties (PGP) joint area manager, Hyde Park office. “It is here where Johannesburg’s vast man-made forest can be seen in all its glory and the views from the Houghton Ridge are without a doubt some of the best in Johannesburg.”

“Houghton Estate is centrally situated and residents have easy access to amenities such as outstanding educational institutions, places of worship, shops and movie theatres. The suburb is one of the safest and greenest in Johannesburg and offers residents the best of South African outdoor living. It is not surprising that many of the city’s leading political figures and business people choose to live here.”

Nearly 64 percent of the homes in Houghton Estate are freestanding, 33.5 percent are sectional title while nearly 2.5 percent are estate properties, according to Lightstone, a research company that provides property data to the South African market. The majority of properties are still the traditional family home on a large one-acre plot, although sectional title ownership developments have become more commonplace, explains Finnemore. He says cluster homes are always highly sought after and are often in short supply.

Most of the residents of Houghton Estate are well established having lived in the area for five years and more and many have been there for more than 10 years. The buy-to-rent market is small and most homes are owner-occupied. “This remains very much a family suburb,” points out Finnemore.

According to Jonathan Davies, PGP joint area manager, Hyde Park office, properties in the upmarket suburb did not always enjoy the popularity they do today. During the mid to late 1990s many of the grand old homes were put on sale by owners moving overseas and for a time there was an excess of properties on the market. Davies says some wise investors snapped up a number of these homes and they have not looked back since, as the market in the area soon recovered, and by the early 2000s homes in the area were once more back in demand.

Today properties in the area are placed on the market from anywhere between R3 million and R18 million. A luxurious penthouse in the prestigious The Houghton development will be selling for R50 million. A home on Houghton ridge, with outstanding views of the Sandton skyline, is currently on sale by PGP for R17 million, according to Davies. He suggests that properties in Houghton such as this are generally well priced and an excellent investment.

“Houghton is an area that is growing and has been the focus of much redevelopment in recent years,” he observes. “Residential developments that are currently being constructed in the neighbourhood such as The Houghton represent a considerable investment in the suburb and demonstrate the enormous confidence that investors have in the area. There is highly visible security in Houghton Estate and it is considered one of the safer places to reside in Johannesburg. Homes in this exclusive area are always likely to remain in demand and retain their value.”

“Houghton Estate has become a wonderfully cosmopolitan neighbourhood and with variety of places of worship it caters to most religious and spiritual needs,” adds PGP property consultant Louis Green. “Along Central Street there is a line of corporates and office blocks, which create a buffer between the highway and the western side of the suburb. As many executives prefer to live close to their place of work this further boosts the demand for homes.”

Another attractive aspect to living within this community is its central location. Houghton is within a stone’s throw of all the major freeways and just ten minutes to the Rosebank Gautrain station. It is also only 15 minutes from Hyde Park and the Sandton CBD, with some of the finest shopping in Johannesburg. And, for those looking for convenience, the Killarney Mall is a mere five minutes away.

Green points out that the suburb has some of the best private schools in Johannesburg including St John’s College for boys and Roedean School for girls. The 100-year old King Edward VII School for Boys, meanwhile, has groomed such top sportsmen as cricketer Graeme Smith. Houghton is also situated in relatively easy reach of both the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg. Medical facilities such as the Netcare Park Lane Hospital, Wits University Donald Gordon Medical Centre and the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital are ideally placed to provide services to the residents of Houghton. For those who enjoy sinking a few putts there are two outstanding golf courses situated within the suburb. Meanwhile Houghton’s Virgin Active is always a popular place to keep fit.

“Houghton is one of the oldest upmarket suburbs in Johannesburg and like a fine wine it is maturing well. It is also increasingly in demand as it becomes more developed and people come to appreciate the colourful outdoor lifestyle it offers,” concludes Green. “It is not surprising that Houghton Estate is very much back in vogue.”

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