Buyer / suburb compatibility the key to happy living

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The best place to live in a city depends on the match between individual dispositions and neighbourhood characteristics. Regardless of income levels, people are happiest living in areas that match their personality. These points were highlighted a couple of years ago in a London-focused study on compatibility between individuals and neighbourhoods. They apply equally in today’s Johannesburg / Sandton suburbia. 

The study found that people with similar personality traits gravitate towards each other in particular suburbs. It is known as ‘spatial clustering’. Historically it has probably been most visible in Johannesburg’s “The Parks” cluster (encompassing Parkhurst, Parkwood, Parkview and Parktown North). Understanding the profile of a metropolitan area such as “The Parks” goes a long way towards matching suitable homeowners in that area.

Certain older suburbs will generally attract a less flashy, non-nouveau riche-type buyer.  Newer areas, on the other hand, might appeal to the buyer who is experimenting with contemporary design and modern architecture.

Heritage areas

For instance, buyers for areas such as Dainfern, and the new cluster home developments in and around Hyde Park, will seldom look at suburbs like Saxonwold, Westcliff and Parktown Ridge. These ‘heritage’ areas and homes generally attract older money, along with appreciation for traditional architecture. They inevitably have a history associated with them. 

My career in Johannesburg residential real estate goes back 30 years. During that time, it has been interesting to witness how the ‘personalities’ of the city’s Northern Suburbs and Sandton have diverged over the years. They have become distinctly different in character.

The divergence manifests immediately North of Illovo – within sight of the Sandton City tower that was the catalyst for the subsequent development of Sandton... The heart of the Northern Suburbs homes market lies within an imaginary circle that stretches from “The Parks” around Greenside, Melville, Westcliff, and Houghton; then around Norwood, Melrose, Dunkeld and Dunkeld West; and back to “The Parks”. 

Suburban vibe

There is a certain vibe within that overall area. It is an arty, laid-back, café society-type environment, dotted with pavement restaurants, bistros, art galleries and antique dealers. Furthermore, there is no resistance to buying older properties. In fact, there is a leaning towards it.

By contrast, if you erect a fence around Hyde Park, Sandhurst, Bryanston, Fourways, and similar adjacent areas in Sandton, the buyer profile is completely different. Put another way, you won’t get a “Parks” person buying in Fourways – or vice versa – even though there is little home price difference between them.

The best place to live depends on the match between individual dispositions and neighbourhood characteristics. The fact remains that most life-satisfied home owners tend to live in areas that best suit their personalities.

Author: Ronald Ennik

Submitted 14 Sep 17 / Views 2029

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