“Something for everyone” in buoyant Bryanston

There is “something for everyone” in the Bryanston residential property market and despite the somewhat listless economy, homes in the area remain in demand, says Rupert Finnemore, Pam Golding Properties (PGP) joint area manager, Hyde Park office.

“Bryanston is not only conveniently situated close to the Sandton CBD, but it also has every amenity residents could hope for close at hand,” observes Finnemore. “Although many people view Bryanston as a pricey area, there are in fact freehold, sectional title and cluster homes available in the mid-range to high-end markets and they represent good value for money in an area that has long proved to hold its value even during times of economic hardship.

Bryanston is the largest suburb in South Africa and properties in the area are placed on the market from anywhere between R800 000 and R55 million. “There is a vast range of different options available for those looking to buy in Bryanston,” points out Finnemore.

PGP property agent Joan Lewis says Bryanston was established in the 1940s and originally consisted solely of farms and smallholdings. While the area had a country ambiance it was relatively close to the city, which ensured its popularity among those wishing to live a gentrified semi-rural life. As business moved from the Johannesburg city centre north to areas such as Sandton, there was increasing demand for residential property in areas such as Bryanston, so properties were subdivided and modern apartments, townhouses and cluster developments became more common features of the area. Bryanston has nevertheless retained its reputation as a leafy family suburb and its properties remain in demand among those seeking both value and a good address.

According to Lightstone, a research company that provides property data to the South African market, house prices in Bryanston are showing a slow but steady appreciation. While the average price of a freehold house was R3.36 million in 2010, it has been R3.83 million in 2012 to date. The average sectional title home was R1.034 million in 2010 and is R1.11 million in 2012. Interestingly, a large proportion (40 percent) of buyers in the suburb are under the age of 35.

“Bryanston is proving increasingly popular among younger professionals with families,” adds PGP property agent Francois Rohlandt. “They typically work in the banking, finance or legal sectors, or are entrepreneurs and have two or three children. They are looking for four or five bedroomed houses and large one-acre properties with beautiful gardens, which are commonly found in this suburb.”

However, in Rohlandt’s view, the Bryanston property market of today is in no way one-dimensional. He points out that the suburb is not just popular with the high-end of the market but also offers opportunities for first-time buyers and those seeking a mid-market home. A number of first-time home buyers are snapping up the well priced and situated sectional title properties that become available from time-to-time.

People are attracted to Bryanston for a number of reasons, not least of which is the strong sense of community that exists. Rohlandt says that many people who grew up in Bryanston return to it when they start families of their own. For some residents living here becomes something of a family tradition and many children attend the same schools as their parents. And there are many excellent schools in the area including St Stithians College, Brescia House, Redhill, Michael Mount Waldorf School, Crawford College, British International College and The French School Lycée Jules Verne.

Fine shopping is to be had at more than half a dozen centres nearby such as Grosvenor Crossing, Post House, Hobart Road, Bryanston Wedge, Sloane Square and the newly developed The Nicol. The many excellent restaurants and boutiques in Bryanston are invariably a hive of activity. For those who are active and enjoy the great outdoors, the popular Bryanston Country Club offers an 18-hole golf course, bowling greens, squash and tennis courts as well as a swimming pool and lapa.

Jonathan Davies, Pam Golding Properties (PGP) joint area manager, Hyde Park office, says with heavy traffic now a daily feature of Johannesburg life, there is a trend for executives to look for properties closer to their place of work. Bryanston is situated between Fourways and Sandton and is an easy commute to work for many executives working in the surrounding areas. Some of the suburbs residents work at the many nearby office parks and businesses that are increasingly being developed down William Nicol Drive and Main Road. An example of one of these office parks is The Campus in Main Road, which is home to such leading brands as Shell and Dimension Data. Such well-known companies as Tiger Brands, Microsoft South Africa and Ogilvy South Africa can also be found in Bryanston’s substantial commercial hub.

“While homes in the area tend to sell well, they do need to be realistically priced,” observes Davies. “Some sellers in Bryanston still have very high expectations and make the mistake of overpricing their homes. Choose a trusted and experienced property agent who can give you honest, practical advice when deciding to put your property on the market. Your home is after all one of your largest investments, so it makes a great deal of sense to choose a trusted property partner when you decide to sell it.”

PGP property agent, Lin Oosthuizen, points out that in Bryanston there is often a shortage of sectional title and cluster properties, which are snapped up soon after they are put on to the market. These offer more affordable living and residents appreciate being able to simply ‘lock up and go’. Cluster homes in the area sell from between R1.9 million to R7.5 million and are highly sought after. Sectional title properties in the R800 000 to R1.2 million price range are also in great demand and Oosthuizen says there can be as many as 10 buyers for each home being sold. However, she warns that even these properties have to be well appointed and correctly priced if they are to hold their value and represent a sound investment.

Are many homes in the suburb purchased for the purposes of renting them out? Oosthuizen suggests that there are a number of sectional title and cluster homes that are purchased for this purpose. “Indeed, some 30 percent of these properties are bought as a buy to let investment, and they tend to offer good returns. The more upmarket of these properties are often rented out to corporates, which demand outstanding security and facilities for their employees.

“There is a great deal of building currently being undertaken in the Bryanston area with a number of homes and retail outlets being redeveloped,” notes Oosthuizen. “Several shopping malls have been, or are in the process of being revamped into top class retail facilities. I am of the view that all this activity is a sure sign that people have significant confidence in the area.”

“Bryanston, with its wide range of properties available, is often regarded as a good barometer of the Johannesburg residential property market,” adds Davies. “If this is the case then the market looks to be on a slow but steady path to recovery. For those looking for a start-out property or a large family home, now might be a good time to invest in Bryanston,” he concludes.

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