20 Feb 2013
Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says the property market in Soweto is interesting in that it has experienced trends that are independent from other regions in the country.
He notes that while 2007 was regarded by many as the peak of the housing boom and the year that most regions experienced high volumes of property sales, it was the year that the least amount of properties were sold in Soweto. While micro property markets in other regions saw a decline in sales after 2007, the highest number of property sales transactions in Soweto for the same period was during 2009.
Goslett says while many regions experienced a drop in housing prices during the recession period, the average price of a freestanding home in Soweto grew from R13 000 in 2006 to R71 000 in 2013, five times the price in just seven years.
According to Lightstone, a property information and statistics provider, approximately 53 percent of recent buyers in the area were aged between 18 and 35 years old, the largest demographic of buyers by far, followed by those aged between 36 and 49 years old.
The largest age group of recent sellers was split equally between those aged between 50 and 64 years old and those who were older than 65 years old, each representing 35.29 percent of sellers in the region. Around 80 percent of all existing homeowners in the area have lived in Soweto for eight years or longer.
Goslett says demand for property in Soweto is high among the younger generation who are looking for affordable property options. All homes sold from February 2012 up until January 2013 were priced well below the R400 000 mark.
Deriving its name from the abbreviation of South Western Townships, the area was developed in the 1930s as a housing option for black people during the apartheid era. During the 1950s, more people were relocated to the area from the inner city and it grew phenomenally, but with little planning.
Migrant workers from across the country moved to Johannesburg seeking opportunity and employment in the City of Gold. The population soon grew to over two million inhabitants and the township became the largest black urban settlement in Africa.
Soweto has become synonymous with the struggle against apartheid as many fights against apartheid took place in and around the township. During 1976, Soweto became world famous because of the Soweto Uprising, a mass protest by students over the government’s policy to enforce education in Afrikaans rather than English.
The violent acts that ensued during the riots reverberated throughout the country and across the globe – this was undoubtedly one of the events that led to the introduction of economic and cultural sanctions against South Africa.
As the location of Nelson Mandela’s first home and many other significant historical and memorial sites, Soweto is a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from across the world.
It is an enterprise of cultural interaction, with all eleven of the country’s official languages spoken in the area. It also has one of the largest hospitals on the continent, the Chris Hani- Baragwaneth Hospital.
Property and housing of all kinds can be found in Soweto, from grey, four room dwellings known as matchbox houses to extravagant homes similar to those found in Johannesburg’s affluent suburbs.
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