Ten Years Of Democracy: Changes In Former “Whites Only” Suburbs Of Pretoria

By Dr Dirk A Prinsloo
Urban Studies

In the previous article specific trends were identified regarding the purchasing behaviour of black people in certain “former whites-only suburbs” of Johannesburg. The general trend has revealed an increase in such sales and the sales trends per suburb have either been steady or upward – depending on the absolute or relative location of the suburbs concerned.

The question now is whether Pretoria is following the same trends or is it unique? The broad macro-economic conditions are the same for both Johannesburg and Pretoria. The economic base, culture, city layout, and population composition is however different. In that sense Pretoria is considerably more of a representative example of most of the large cities and towns in South Africa.

The patterns associated with the purchasing of houses in Pretoria, and reported here, is based on more than 21 000 house sales registered at the Deeds Office between 1993 and 2003. These figures give an accurate reflection of what is currently happening in the different groups of suburbs in Pretoria.

The total proportion of sales to black buyers during a 10-year period was 15,6% (See Table 1). This is almost double that of Johannesburg (8,3%). The suburbs in the north-western sector of Pretoria, as well as the western suburbs, reflect a much higher black-buyer trend. The occurrence in the south-eastern suburbs and the Moot area reflect a much lower rate of 3,8% and 1,55 respectively. – See Maps


The tempo of change (over the last 10 years) in Pretoria has been much more rapid than in Johannesburg (6% change per annum compared to 4,9% in Johannesburg).

From the data in the graph 1 below and on Map 2 the trend of an increasing number of black buyers in specific areas is very clear while in other areas it remains very low.




The trend per suburb reflects very similar patterns to the Johannesburg market. Two very distinct patterns can be identified in both cities. One, where the trend of black buyers is upward, proportionately more black buyers move into an area. The other trend is where the proportion of black buyers remains at a more or less a constant level.


In the two Pretoria suburbs of Wespark and Danville both trends are applicable (See graphs 3 and 4). The proportions are on a high level, almost the same as in Naturena in Johannesburg. Once again the trend is one of black buyers tending to buy in the areas close to existing townships.




The price range in which the black buyers are purchasing houses in Pretoria is different to that in Johannesburg. Almost 40 per cent of all sales between 2001 and 2003 were between R200 000-R400 000 (compared to ±22 per cent in Johannesburg). The percentage of buyers that made purchases at more than R400 000 in Pretoria represents 7 per cent (Johannesburg 11 per cent). See Graph 8 and 9



The one outstanding aspect regarding Pretoria is the sales of flats in Sunnyside. The trend in Sunnyside is different from what occurred earlier in Hillbrow. Most sales in Sunnyside are associated with legal ownership whereas in Hillbrow they were associated with ‘illegal’ residents. It is very important to guard against urban decay and to keep residential areas clean especially in high-rise flatland areas. See Graph 10.


Changes as shown on the graph alongside for Sunnyside could also be regarded as having a positive impact on shopping. Sunnypark for instance is performing very well according to the new owners. The centre has the right tenant mix catering for a client base where the monthly household income has doubled from R4 000 per month in 1999 to R8 000 by the middle of 2004.


Drawing upon evidence from the two surveys some very clear trends have emerged, namely:

  • The less expensive suburbs are those that are closer to the townships areas on route to the CBDs;
  • The current price range for most black buyers is between R150 000-R400 000 with a growing proportion of sales above R800 000;
  • Some suburbs are showing an increasing proportion of sales to black buyers while others remain constant and exhibit very low proportions of black purchases.

Based on the growth of income approximately 400 000 households will move into the LSM 8-10 category during the next 8-10 years. This will create a very positive demand for housing. A large portion will focus on new growth areas while others will purchase in existing suburbs. All this reflects a very positive housing market up to 2010.