>> The Northern Suburbs come to life - The Property Magazine

Words: Donald Paul Photography: Melanie Cleary

Lifting the curtain

The neighbourhood

To the north of the N1 is an area – the ‘Boerewors Gordyn’ – that includes Parow, Bellville, Tygervalley and Durbanville. But new developments such as Kanonberg and Welgedacht are attracting a considerable amount of wealthy investors and homeowners. Pam Golding Properties Managing Director Western Cape Mick Joyce says it’s ‘difficult to make comparisons with’ other fast growing suburbs of the Cape. ‘You’d have to look at a rand comparison as well as a new unit comparison, but it must be fairly close.’

The newspaper of choice for most local residents is the Afrikaans daily Die Burger, which runs a property supplement called Kaapse Eiendoms. The Saturday Argus, comprising the weekend property supplement of the local English paper, The Cape Argus, never featured the Northern Suburbs, which prompted Die Burger to launch an English-language version of their supplement, called Cape Property.

The curtain had been lifted.


For the purposes of this feature we refer to the Northern Suburbs as bordered by the N1 on the south, Goodwood on the west, Kraaifontein on the east and Durbanville in the north.

History

The Northern Suburbs is part of the City of Tygerberg, formed in May 1996 from the amalgamation of the municipalities of Bellville, Durbanville, Goodwood, Parow, Khayelitsha and Mfuleni. Readily accessible from all directions, it is close to Cape Town International Airport and contains a wide spread of commercial and light industry from the Grand West Casino complex to wine estates.

Louw Coetzee Properties Director Johan de Bruyn grew up in the area. Driving up Jip de Jager Avenue, he points out hills covered with homes that were bare veld when he was a boy. Plattekloof was always an upmarket area, says De Bruyn, but the developments ‘sort of started in Boston’.

Then the owner of Loevenstein farm parcelled up his land and another development began, then Welgemoed and, in the 1990s, a spate of upmarket estates began to overrun the hills and vineyards: Welgedacht, Oude Westhof, Kanonberg, Welgevonden, to name a few.

Sotheby’s International currently have a property on their books in Oude Westhof – 33 Chardonnay – with an asking price of R13-million.

What to watch

Established suburbs such as Valmary Park and Vygeboom, with huge gardens and rambling homes, are being targeted by developers and homeowners who usually demolish the existing homes and put up larger, modern residences. Chief Executive Officer of Joey Broodryk Estates Melanie Broodryk says that very particular buyers seek homes in these areas. ‘The yuppy wants to be in a secure village – no garden. They work night and day. Weekends they go away.’

Like any city, Tygerberg has its extremes: from an R8m property in Kanonberg to people living in a caravan park. The park is well-kept, with caravans parked neatly beneath the trees just like you’d see in any holiday town.

Melanie says a ‘very small percentage of properties are purchased in the high-end of the market as investments for rental income’. Most investors are looking to get their hands on apartments, townhouses and duplexes, which they can

rent out for between R1 800 and R4 000 per month. Now, she says, demand far exceeds the rental property available. Trudi Graser of Trudi Graser Estates says: ‘There’s been a huge demand for all areas here.The most upmarket areas – Welgemoed, Kanonberg, Welgedacht, Plattekloof and parts of Durbanville – have experienced phenomenal growth in last the two years, providing great returns for investors. I have a waiting list for anything under R1.5m from those who buy with a view to renovate.’ Her advice to young buyers: ‘They should go for the green areas – Durbanville, Protea Valley, Kenridge.’

‘When they started this big boom of development in four different directions the estate agents were all scared,’ says Joey Broodryk Estates Office Manager Freda Heerink. ‘They thought everybody would buy into the new developments and there wouldn’t be any interest in the second-hand market. But they can’t
keep up. There’s hardly any second-hand stuff and all the new developments are selling like hot cakes.’


The Tyger Falls development has everyone talking. Plots are going for around R980 000. Melanie says it’s the Northern Suburbs’ answer to the Waterfront, ‘a place to work and play’. And despite the fact that it’s already expensive to buy into and the owners are battling to get the rents they need, she thinks ‘it will come right’.

Pam Golding Properties Deputy Manager Northern City Areas Samantha Haefele seems to agree – they are now selling for the development. ‘We usually get involved at re-sale level,’ she explains. ‘Developers are best equipped to handle selling off-plan.’

Pam Golding Properties Director Maureen Nel says that the ‘rental market is not as good as [the investors] thought, but that’s because it’s early days’. ‘I think [investors] are going to have to subsidise heavily for a while,’ agrees Samantha.


Melanie says they have 100 to 150 properties on their books, but there are very few places where you can find a bargain, except perhaps ‘in the Kraaifontein area’.


But the Cape Gate shopping centre (opening March 2005), has made prices in these areas also ‘take off’.

Mick thinks that first-time buyers’ expectations are unreal. ‘Since when have new clients been buying new units?’ he asks. ‘Twenty years ago people bought in Harfield Village. Today, you have to go to Salt River, Woodstock and lower Observatory. In this area [young couples] should be looking at Boston, Oakdale, Brackenfell.’

Samantha says the problem often is one of financing. ‘The banks will classify certain areas as D, for which they will not give a bond, so you can’t get finance.’

The top end of the market, however, is very wealthy. ‘Seven years ago Welgemoed had the highest income per capita,’ Mick tells us.

‘Somerset West has long had the same reputation as a very wealthy area when you look at average index, but this seems to be shifting.’


Samantha agrees. ‘We used to lose a lot of clients to Somerset West, but that no longer happens.’

As Mick puts it: ‘Somerset West is a town and this is a city and that’s a major draw card.’

As with any property investment, it’s not only about position: timing is equally important. This could well be the year when the southside of the Northern Suburbs offers the best deals. Of course, you may have to wait longer to turn a tidy profit.

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