Proper planning needed to protect Brooklyn property values

An increasing number of homebuyers in the upmarket Pretoria suburb of Brooklyn are looking for large homes that can be converted to student accommodation – or already have cottages, flatlets or other outbuildings that can be used for this purpose.

This beautiful home in Brooklyn has recently been sold by Sotheby’s International Realty for R3,200,000. Completely renovated, it has four bedrooms and three bathrooms plus a guest suite, spacious reception rooms, a country-style kitchen with separate scullery/laundry, staff quarters, a double garage and a salt-water pool set in a lush garden. 
“This trend is developing because of Brooklyn’s location close to the University of Pretoria, shopping facilities and public transport, and will no doubt continue as student numbers continue to rise,” says Karin Petzer, area specialist for Sotheby’s International Realty.
However, she says, they should proceed with caution. “While the provision of student accommodation can undoubtedly be a good investment, those who wish to protect their investments need to ensure that the conversion of houses to communes or building of any extensions to accommodate student are done legally, according to municipal planning and other bylaws.
“Student houses also need to be properly managed to ensure that there is no overcrowding, rowdy behaviour and general degradation of the neighbourhood, because that can quickly depress the value of these properties as well as those around them – especially in a sought-after area such as Brooklyn.”
As part of Pretoria’s “Old East”,Brooklyn offers a variety of modern high-end homes, renovated heritage properties and some Victorian originals with large rooms, pressed ceilings and wooden floors, all set in large gardens along tree-lined streets, Petzer says.
It is also close to the upmarket Brooklyn Mall and arguably the best located suburb for the city’s top schools, including Brooklyn Primary,Waterkloof House Preparatory, Pretoria Preparatory, Laerskool Pretoria-Oos, the Pretoria Boys’ and Girl’s high schools, their Afrikaans equivalents (Affies), and Ho?rskool Menlopark.

This stately home in Brooklyn has recently been sold by Sotheby’s International Realty for R4,600,000. It has spacious living rooms complete with Morso fireplace, three ensuite bedrooms upstairs, and a separate two-bedroom guest wing with its own bathroom, kitchenette and lounge as well as a wrap-around veranda, salt-water pool and established garden.
And this, she says, is causing many happy residents of security estates in the New East to re-think their situation and move to Brooklyn, especially if they have young children with many years of schooling and tertiary education ahead of them. “There is no long commute to school from here and the dreaded traffic congestion of the “New East” is also then not an issue for those working in Menlyn, Hatfield, the CBD or Brooklyn itself.”
According to property data company Lightstone, the average price paid for freehold homes in Brooklyn in the past 12 months is R2,65m, and that paid for sectional title units is R1,63m. However, says Petzer, prices have risen somewhat in recent months and families looking to buy an upmarket home with high-end finishes can expect to pay between R3m and R5m (see photo).
“Sellers, meanwhile, should not base their asking prices on prices that are now being achieved for commercial or potentially commercial properties along the main arterials of Justice Mahomed and Jan Shoba streets, as homebuyers in Brooklyn are generally very well-informed and will not overpay. But demand is high, and well-priced homes here will usually sell within four months now.”

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