Kensington shapes up as the 'new Melville'

If you'd bought a home in Kensington 18 months ago and decided to sell it today, you would stand to make a profit of 25 to 30 percent - and there's still more growth in the pipeline.

So says Jako Keyter of leading local agency Homenet Realink, who notes:

"Kensington is the new Melville.

"The area has been ripe for rediscovery for years. Its homes date from the 1920s - the heydays of the Randlords - and it has since gone through the classic life cycle of any suburb, reaching maturity, going into decline and now being resurrected and becoming trendy as Melville did in the 1980s.

"This was a typical middle to upper-class area and the homes are solidly built and spacious with features like wooden flooring and pressed ceilings that are very much back in vogue. So not surprisingly, buyers in the area now are refurbishing extensively - and almost inevitably adding significant value in the process."

Kensington has a lot more going for it, too, he says, including a central location relative to all transport routes, upmarket shopping centres such as Eastgate and world class sports facilities such as Giloolys golf course. The O R Tambo airport is also within very easy reach.

"There are also excellent schools in the area such as Jeppe Boys and Girls high schools and Kensington Primary, and on top of this it borders upmarket Bedfordview where there are more good schools."

Keyter says that to a large extent the area has retained its character so far, "although there is some danger of this being spoilt by insensitive developers and speculators. For now, though, it retains its leafy, village atmosphere and it's become a magnet for a new generation of buyers disillusioned with the 'cookie-cutter' homes found in abundance in other parts of Johannesburg."

He acknowledges that crime has been an issue is the area but says that residents are meeting the challenge with effective street guards and security patrols.

Meanwhile, demand is running high. "Stands in the area are not large, the majority averaging 500sqm, so there is little opportunity for sub-division but where it is possible to do so, properties are rapidly snapped up.

"In terms of pricing, there's little available for under R850 000 and the average is above the R1m mark. The highest price realised to date was a home in Langermann Drive that sold for R3,150m while viewsite homes in Highlands Rd are fetching around R2,7m.

"So there's little doubt that Kensington is seriously on the up as a trendy area and further impetus will no doubt be added by the 2010 World Cup spin-offs generated by nearby Ellis Park."

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