Pretoria West is close enough for many residents to save money by walking walk to work in the city centre. The area is full of small businesses, with many people working from home.
Pretoria West’s proximity to Pretoria Central is an attraction on which many potential residents are keen to capitalise. The suburb is within walking distance of the city and for working class folk – the majority demographic here – this equates to huge savings on transport costs.
Over the past few years the area has seen an explosion in self-operated small businesses, with more opening daily.
On every corner you will find a – usually – foreign-operated spaza or grocery business. On streets such as Rebecca, WF Nkomo, Soutter and Luttig, every nook and cranny resounds with the clatter of entrepreneurial activity. This means Pretoria West is the go-to place for various categories of affordable artisanship, such as car bearings, cobbler services or upholstery.
Most of these home-based businesses or businesses at former homes are a spillover from the formal industrial-type sector for which Pretoria West has always been known, including panel beaters, car service outlets and food manufacturing.
Property dynamics in Pretoria West are thus largely determined by its commercial potential with most recent buyers purchasing property as an investment rather than to live in, say estate agents.
Rahab Sauli, Century 21 Property specialist agent for Pretoria West, says rentals are big business in Pretoria West. “It is common for an investor to buy a property here and renovate it to maximise on rental income by adding a building or more buildings.”
However, Sauli warns there is a shortage of stock as Pretoria West is a high-demand area. “Because of the prevailing weak economic environment, investors are sceptical and adopting a wait-and-see attitude. There’s no real movement as property owners are unwilling to sell while potential buyers also seem to want to wait.”
Pretoria West properties are on large stands, with some properties running between two streets. For a property owner looking to maximise on returns, this presents many income-generating opportunities while quick returns beckon for the investor building an annexe.
The area’s popularity is aided by the fact that property prices are favourable here. A three-bedroom house with lounge, dining room and two bathrooms on a 1 000m² stand can sell for as little as R850 000.
Sauli says a buyer also snap up a freehold property for R700 000.
“The original property structures in Pretoria West are strong when compared to most of the new houses they are building nowadays,” she says.
This distinction is appropriate since Pretoria West was established in 1892, just 37 years after Pretoria was inaugurated as the capital city of the then Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek.
While a significant number of tenants are self-employed and run businesses from home, some homeowners also have home-based businesses or businesses in the vicinity of their dwellings, says Sauli.
This trend appears to have affected occupancy patterns in parts of the neighbourhood.
Luttig Street East is predominantly Somali in character and some residents seem to have bought property to be closer to family or kin, with whom they may be in a business partnership as well. They also appreciate that their place of worship at the Kit Kat mosque on WF Nkomo Street is within a 200m walk.
Comparatively priced neighbourhoods include Cullinan and Rayton for freehold properties, and Protea Glen and Soweto for sectional title properties.