Stately Berea draws professionals

Rezoning along roads fringing the industrial area on Durban's Berea has led to an influx of professionals who are turning stately old homes into upmarket offices.

"Granting business rights along these roads was an inspired move and is leading to a fabulous facelift for the area," says Sylvia Short, the newly-appointed sales manager at the Chas Everitt International Berea office.

"It is adding a new element to the suburb and on top of that many of the old homes are being restored to their former glory. Some of these properties are now valued at up to R6m, in contrast to about 10 years ago, when they could have been picked up for around R200 000."

Short says the local market is busy at the moment, but that most residential transactions are in the bread-and-butter range. So while the Berea retains a regal air from its Colonial past, and lovely old Victorian homes are a feature, residents are now a cosmopolitan mix and street cafés and restaurants add to a trendy ambience.

"It remains a desirable area, close to the beach and the two main freeways.

And, of course, among the many trees lining the streets and gracing the gardens, there are always some in flower, " she says.

Currently, prices for three-bedroom family homes on the Berea range between R1,6m and R1,8m, while a sprinkling of bachelor apartments are available at

aound R400 000. Prices for two-bedroom apartments start at about R900 000 while luxury properties command high prices, with townhouses at R6m and homes at R8m not uncommon.

Short, who took up her new position at the start of May, has 26 years' experience in the KwaZulu-Natal property market, the last 12 of those in the Berea area.

Barney Fleiser, MD of the group's KZN operation, says Short is a career agent and brings vast experience to the group. "Her strong sales and training background are added assets, which will add value for our agents as well as clients."

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