AnalysisResidential News

Understanding the evolution of Johannesburg’s residential property landscape

The economic heart of South Africa has witnessed a significant transformation in its residential real estate landscape in recent years and understanding the unique demands and preferences of Johannesburg’s residents is key for developers and investors as well as homeowners.

This is according to Cobus Odendaal, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Johannesburg and Randburg, who says: “Unless one is flipping properties, real estate investment is a long game and a much deeper insight is required, especially these days when markets and trends are shifting so much more dramatically than in previous years.

“Johannesburg’s real estate market has become much more dynamic and adaptable in recent years, with properties now catering to a wider range of needs and lifestyles than ever before and, as the city continues to grow and change, its residential real estate market is following suit.”

Odendaal lists the key driving forces behind these changes:

  • Urbanisation and Migration: Johannesburg continues to attract people from across South Africa and the African continent, who are drawn by its economic opportunities and urban lifestyle. This influx of residents has driven the need for more housing options.
  • Economic Growth: As Johannesburg’s economy has expanded, so has the demand for modern, convenient housing. The city’s status as an economic powerhouse has made it an attractive destination for businesses, which in turn drives the need for housing.
  • Safety Concerns: Safety has been a growing concern in Johannesburg, leading many residents to seek secure housing options.
  • Environmental Awareness: Increased awareness of environmental issues and the desire for a more sustainable lifestyle have led to a demand for eco-friendly and energy-efficient properties.
  • Work-From-Home Demand: A New Reality – The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the work-from-home trend, leading to increased demand for properties with home offices or extra space suitable for remote work. And although many people are heading back to the office, it is often on a flexi-time basis.
  • Changing lifestyle preferences: An increasing number people are adopting eco-friendly and sustainable living practices which has resulted in a growing demand for properties with energy-efficient features and many are also embracing minimalism and seeking more compact, low-maintenance homes. Additionally, during the pandemic, we got used to our homes being our sanctuaries and continue to enjoy dedicated spaces such as spa bathrooms, yoga rooms etc.

What Has Changed?

“There have been a number of notable changes in the Johannesburg property landscape over the past two decades,” says Odendaal, “but, some have been more significant and are not only here to stay but are actively shaping the future of our city.”

  • Urban Revitalisation: The city centre, until recently characterised by aging office buildings and encroaching decay and begun to witness the conversion of numerous commercial spaces into modern residential apartments and lofts. Areas like Braamfontein have begun to attract new investors, residents and businesses.
  • The emergence of new commercial hubs: Initially a response to the decaying city centre a number of years ago but now driven by migration and changing lifestyle needs, areas like Midrand and Fourways are commercial centres in their own right.
  • Mixed-Use Developments: There has been a proliferation of mixed-use developments that combine residential, commercial, and recreational spaces. These developments offer residents the convenience of having amenities such as shopping centres, gyms, and restaurants within walking distance.
  • Security and Gated Communities: Safety concerns have led to a surge in the demand for gated communities with heightened security. Many new developments offer 24/7 security, access control, and surveillance systems to provide residents with peace of mind.
  • Green Spaces and Sustainability: There is a growing emphasis on green spaces and sustainable living. Developers are incorporating parks, gardens, and eco-friendly features into their projects. Sustainable design elements, such as energy-efficient appliances and solar panels, are also becoming more common.

Most Sought-After Properties

“It used to be that there were three main property types – sectional title blocks of flats or rows of duplexes and freestanding houses – but this is not longer the case,” says Odendaal.

“There are now many more options under the sectional title and freehold banners and buyers can easily find something to meet their unique lifestyle and needs.”

  • City Apartments and Lofts: The rejuvenation of Johannesburg’s city centre and the growth of hubs like Sandton and Melrose have made city apartments and lofts highly sought after and many are converted commercial buildings. Young professionals and urban dwellers are drawn to the convenience of living in close proximity to offices, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
  • Mixed-Use Developments: Properties within mixed-use developments are in demand due to their blend of residential, commercial, and recreational spaces and residents can enjoy a vibrant, all-inclusive lifestyle without the need for long commutes.
  • Security Estates: Gated communities and security estates are popular among families and individuals looking for a secure living environment. These properties often come with communal amenities such as parks, pools, and gyms.
  • Luxury Estates: Johannesburg boasts several prestigious luxury estates, offering residents spacious homes with top-tier finishes, extensive gardens, and access to exclusive amenities like golf courses and private schools.
  • Family homes with versatile spaces: Since the pandemic, homes with dedicated office spaces and areas that can be used for exercise or entertainment have become highly sought after in Johannesburg.
  • Student Accommodation: As Johannesburg is home to numerous universities and colleges, purpose-built student accommodation is a growing market. Investors are capitalising on the steady stream of students seeking housing close to their campuses.

Odendaal concludes: “The changes we’re seeing clearly reflect the evolving needs and preferences of the city’s diverse population.

“As Johannesburg continues to develop and expand, its property market will continue to evolve and whether you seek the urban excitement of inner-city living or the tranquility of a suburban retreat, Johannesburg has something to offer everyone in its ever-changing real estate landscape.”