Division multiplies fortunes in pricey Sandhurst
Step right up: A file picture of Empire Place in Sandhurst, Johannesburg’s most expensive suburb, where houses are valued up to R100-million
Enclave carved up as wealthy clamour for the right address.

Seven years ago, pensioner Josephine Meintjes visited Sandhurst, a high-security enclave in northern Johannesburg, and splashed out R7-million on an 11000m² estate.

Within five years, she had subdivided the estate into four properties, built three ultra-modern mansions — and sold them for R15-million each.

A shortage of properties in the enclave has turned subdivision into a bonanza for owners and investors. Deeds records show that the suburb has gone from 640 sought-after addresses in May last year to 750.

Sales figures provided by The Knowledge Factory, which compiles the authoritative SA Property Transfer Guide, show R2- billion in residential real estate transactions in Sandhurst in two years.

The 96 property sales in Sandhurst eclipse those of other sought-after addresses in the country.

In adjacent Hyde Park, 69 sales were recorded at a total of R843.8- million, while 90 transactions totalling R484-million were recorded in Cape Town’s Clifton for the same period.

The latest Residential Property Perspective, compiled by Absa, confirms that suitable vacant land for residential development has become increasingly scarce in South Africa.

“The shortage of land has resulted in residential land values rising significantly, causing land to become less affordable and the average stand size dropping to levels not seen in the past.

“It is also causing subdivisions of large stands in older neighbourhoods, and higher density housing developments such as multistorey apartment buildings,” says the report.

Absa ’s house price index puts the price of the average suburban home at R919000. In Sandhurst, homes range from R15-million to R100-million.

Meintjes, who spent 18 months working with architects and developers, turned her 11000m² estate into a cluster which featured homes ranging from 1000m² to 1400m² .

Originally marketed as a R60- million package, the homes were eventually sold individually for about R15-million each.

Now the last mansion in the cluster, which Meintjes occupies, has come onto Seeff Properties’ books, for R22-million.

Meintjes, 76, who is busy renovating her new home, a simplex in Morningside in northern Johannesburg, said she had seen a growing number of estates being subdivided in Sandhurst in the past five years.

“Properties are being demolished and there are new developments taking place all over ... it’s all very exciting, because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Private estates measuring 10000m² — which dominated the landscape in Sandhurst for decades — are being rezoned and subdivided for the country’s growing millionaire class.

“There is just too much money chasing too little supply,” said Wayne Gosher, an agent with Jawitz Properties.

“In the last five years there’s been quite a lot of wealth being made in the country, and people want to invest their money in prime real estate.”

According to the 2007 World Wealth Report , the number of dollar millionaires in South Africa has almost doubled since 2004. The new-entry list of 5703 has boosted the number of dollar millionaires in the country to 48 586.

And estate agents and developers this week conceded that there wasn’t room for them in the country’s priciest suburb.

Wendy Machanik, owner of Wendy Machanik Properties, has several buyers hunting for homes priced at over R10-million, while Seeff Properties, which sold 20 homes for more than R10- million apiece last year, is also searching in the suburb.

Sotheby’s International Realty SA chairman Lew Geffen said the most sought-after streets in Sandhurst were Coronation Road and Oxford Avenue, according to his company’s records .

The two streets have recorded sales of almost R200-million in two years.

A glimpse behind the gates of one of the homes on the market — priced at R18-million — reveals a mansion with eight en- suite bedrooms, six garages, two heated swimming pools, landscaped gardens, koi ponds and waterfalls.

Another home on the market, for R24-million, has light fittings sourced from exclusive antique stores in London and Paris.

Agents said the “average” Sandhurst address comes with about six en-suite bedrooms, an outdoor and often an indoor swimming-pool with a pool house, a gym, home theatre, a small second kitchen close to the main bedroom and garages for multiple cars.

The owner of a home on the market for R28-million not only imported the house’s marble from Italy, but the architect as well.

Built on a 2000m² property, the house features an imported crystal chandelier, a media conference room and a state-of- the-art theatre, along with the usual trappings.

Article by: Simpiwe Piliso - www.sundaytimes.co.za