Position, entry level properties and investment buyers sustain a subdued Norwood market

After a promising start to 2017 with 40% of the total sales between February 2016 and the end of January being concluded during the last three months of this period, the residential market in the garden suburb of Norwood became progressively subdued as the year wore on.

This is according to Carol Goldberg of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, who adds that there was an encouraging spark of revival at the beginning of 2018 after Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment, but it was short-lived.

“By the end of the first quarter, the cautious optimism began to wane as concern about land expropriation without compensation grew. People are reluctant to buy now, with ‘wait-and-see’ being the general sentiment, especially at the upper end of the market where homes are still spending considerably more time on the market than before 2017.

Goldberg believes these are the two key factors that have contributed to the significant drop in sales which saw a high of 82 registrations in 2015 dip to 42 in 2016 then drop again to just 31 last year.

“And, like last year I’m finding that smaller properties in the lower price bands are still moving the fastest with homes in the R2 million to R2.6m attracting the keenest buyer interest.”

This is clearly evidenced by Lightstone data which reveals that 24 of the 30 homes sold in the last 12 months ending May 31 were in R1.5m to R3m bracket with an average sale price of R2.42m. One property was sold for R1.5m and there were five sales in the R3m plus band.

“There is also a healthy appetite for correctly priced investment properties as investors know that buyers are reluctant to put pen to paper in an uncertain market and many believe that rentals are the way to go.”

Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty says: “Norwood is predominantly a freehold area with only a few sectional title properties mainly situated along Grant Avenue and the generally accessible price point and central location make it a very attractive residential destination.

“The area has been attracting increasing interest from upwardly mobile professionals and young families, as well as mature buyers who are downsizing as most of the plots are a very manageable 500m². There has also been an increase in young Muslim couples and families because of the suburb’s proximity to several mosques, many of which offer schooling facilities.

Geffen adds: “Norwood has a broad appeal as it’s a well-established garden suburb near several good schools which makes it particularly attractive to families seeking a traditional suburban outdoors lifestyle, but it also has a distinctly vibey and cosmopolitan atmosphere.”

Says Goldberg: “Grant Avenue is the main hub of the suburb and it is home to a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants and, being within walking distance for all residents, it creates an open and friendly sense of community.

“The street has received a major facelift in recent years and this is attracting more and more upmarket businesses which in turn impacts positively on property values and the quality of investors and residents.

“The suburb’s convenient location close to Sandton City and the CBD is a major drawcard, with residents enjoying easy access to the city’s main road networks and highways and the Gautrain station is only a few kilometres away in Rosebank. Several of Johannesburg’s top schools, best hospitals and most popular shopping destinations are within easy driving distance.”

And ticking the most crucial box of all is the fact that the Norwood Police Station is situated within the suburb and, with a highly active community-policing programme in place, it is widely considered to be one of the more secure suburbs of the city.