The suburb of The Orchards is located in Akasia, slightly to the north of Pretoria, in what used to be called Rosslyn.
Major routes are only five minutes away and there is easy access to freeways via the Platinum and Mabopane highways, which link residents to Pretoria CBD. There is also access to the N14 freeway that leads to the national roads from Brits and Rustenburg and the N1 is a short drive away.
Close by is the Wonderpark Mall, with loads of stores and an outdoor children's play park and skate-park for the teens. With a selection of good schools, and amenities in the area like the Orchards shopping centre, Onderstepoort nature reserve and Akasia country club and golf course, the area is attractive to a wide range of people.
Dries Dreyer of Realty-1IPG in Akasia/Pretoria North says stands are selling well in the R250k to R330k price range.
Freehold property in the area is still moving, with a monthly average of 25 transfers a month during 2006 and 2007, and Deeds Office data shows the average property price as R463k. Since October 2007, however, sales have started to decrease and only four properties were transferred in January 2008. The data shows minimum and maximum prices in freehold ranging from R200k to R1m, but on occasion a maximum price can be up to the R3,2m mark.
"A few years ago, buyers all wanted freehold properties," says Dreyer.
"The Deeds Office recorded that the 12-month period from February 2006 to January 2007 was the busiest year for freehold titles to date in the area, with an average of more than 30 sales per month, with 70 transfers that took place in July 2006."
Sellers are now beginning to be more realistic about the pricing of their properties. "In the past month and a half we have experienced a steep drop in sales at all price levels," he said.
He comments that an interesting affordability phenomenon is the fact that many homeowners who have their properties up for sale want to move back to traditional areas such as Mabopane and Soshanguve as property is more affordable there, ranging from R275k for a two-bedroomed home to R650 for a four-bedroomed with double facilities.
Dreyer believes that "survival" debt amongst potential homeowners has increased to such a level that 58% of mortgage applications are declined for potential buyers in the area.
"The densification policies of the Tshwane Metropolitan Council and the buyers' affordability have been a major driving force for potential homeowners to accept sectional title properties," says Dreyer.
"However, these initiatives have seen major sectional title developments being met with the utmost success."
However, Deeds Office data shows sectional title properties are selling at an average of three properties a month, and only four properties were sold in Jan 2008. The busiest month for sectional title was June 2007 with seven transfers, but none occurred in July.
"Whether the choice is a smaller sectional title or larger freehold depend on affordability and the buyer's family needs and requirements," said Dreyer, and added that the full implementation of the National Credit Act (NCA), higher pricing of household consumables and increasing interest rates have not contributed to the financial freedom of potential homeowners. – Zenta Roets
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