It may be hard to believe but Bryanston, which is now one of the most developed and commercialised suburbs of Johannesburg, didn’t even have tarred roads until the 1970s.
“At that stage,” says Sean Grove, the Rawson Property Group's Bryanston franchisee , “Bryanston was on outer edge of the city and those who were bravely buying homes here were largely middle-aged executives who wanted to enjoy the “country” life in oversized ranch houses on huge stands with pools and tennis courts and plenty of space to put up a marquee for a party.
“The newly-established Bryanston Country Club was the centre of their social life and there was one shopping centre, one primary school and one high school.”
Today, of course, many of these large properties have been redeveloped into cluster home and townhouse complexes or office parks, and there are several new luxury apartment blocks in the area, which also has at least six more shopping centres, its own hospital, a Virgin Active gym and a string of top schools.
“In addition,” he says, “Bryanston has become something of a high-tech hub, thanks to the fact that it is home to the SA headquarters of Microsoft and Google as well as the Dimension Data corporate campus, and several other multinationals including Tiger Brands, GlaxoSmithKline, Ipsos and Ogilvy & Mather.
“And like other such nodes around the world, it now has an increasingly diverse and cosmopolitan population in terms of age, origin, interests, and property needs –ranging from affluent, techno-savvy Millennials who love the fact that they can rent apartments here that are really close to work, shops, sports facilities and restaurants with free wi-fi, through to top professionals and corporate executives who can afford R35 million to R50 million for a modern mansion in Eccleston Crescent on Bryanston Ridge.”
Bounded to the north by the Western Bypass of the N1, Bryanston is particularly favoured by wealthy individuals who work in Sandton’s high-rise financial centre but want secure family homes that are close to good schools. Indeed, says Grove, statistics show that approximately 40% of recent buyers in Bryanston were in the 35 to 50 “family” age group, and more than a third of the properties that change hands in the area each year are four-bedroom freehold homes, many of them in cluster complexes, boutique estates or boomed-off enclaves.
“Prices for such homes start at around R2,3 million, although they can range all the way up to about R15 million, and the current average advertised price of four-bedroom homes for sale is R7 million. The choice of schools in the area includes Bryanston Primary, Bryneven Primary, Bryandale Primary, Bryanston High, Brescia House, the British International College and the Michael Mount Waldorf schools. It is also within easy reach of Redhill, Crawford Sandton and the St Stithians schools.”
Somewhat surprisingly, he says, the second biggest cohort of buyers in Bryanston at the moment (38%) is people in the 18 to 35 age group – “although it makes sense when you consider how many jobs have been created here and how many new apartments and townhouses have been built in the past few years to meet the rising demand for accommodation close to work. In fact, more than 700 sectional title properties have been sold in this area since the start of 2015.
“The current average sale price for these homes is around R1,1 million, although the advertised prices for the very few one-bedroom apartments that are available start from around R550 000, and those for two-bedroom units at around R660 000. Prices for three-bedroom apartments start at around R1,3 million, while those for two-bedroom townhouses start at R1,1 million.”
Grove says it is interesting to note that young buyers also make up only 18% of current sellers in Bryanston, compared to the 30% of sellers who are in the 50 to 65 age-group and another 18% who are over-65.
“This would seem to confirm that the population of the area is getting steadily younger as the area densifies, which is not only good news for the retail and service businesses in the area but also for the property market, which will be assured of future buyers as those who are purchasing their first homes here now move up the property ladder in years to come.”
However, he says, it is to be hoped that some things don’t change, including the much-loved Bryanston Country Club and the world-famous Bryanston Organic & Natural Market.
“The club is the ‘green heart’ of the suburb, and boasts tennis, squash, bowls and swimming facilities as well as a first-class golf course, two excellent restaurants and dance, bridge and children’s clubs. The market, established 40 years ago, has grown into a leading light in the international organic movement and is regarded as a model environment for the holistic support of organic farmers, artisanal food producers, artists, crafters and musicians. It also happens to be a wonderful place for Bryanston residents young and old to spend a great day out.”