Forbes recently reported on the listing of New York’s most expensive house for sale, at an eye-popping $130 million. Typically the most expensive NYC properties are situated on the Upper East River, north of 60th to 69th streets, but this trophy home is located in midtown Manhattan. “The Residence”, as it is called, covers some 5 800m2 sprawled over five floors. It is essentially the largest single family home in the city, and also the fourth most expensive home for sale in the United States. This makes for interesting parallels to high-end properties in South Africa. Nettleton Road in Clifton, Cape Town, is often cited as the address of the most expensive homes in the country. Yet Sandhurst, in Sandton Johannesburg, ranks as the wealthiest suburb with the costliest real estate. It is featured regularly in the media for staggering sale prices over the R60 million mark.
Everyone who is anyone
Named after the town of Sandhurst in Berkshire, England, its salubrious streets bear testament to thoroughly English names such as Eton, Harrow and Oxford. Undoubtedly one of the main factors for the suburb’s allure is the low density of the area. Another is its close proximity to Sandton’s “golden triangle” encompassing Sandton City, the Michelangelo and the rapidly expanding Sandton CBD. Top private schools such as St Davids, St Stithians and Kingsmead are also within easy travelling distance. Quite simply, the residents of Sandhurst read as a veritable “who’s who” of moguls and movers-and-shakers. Foreign business tycoons, both European and from the African continent, are also attracted to the suburb. It has the highest multi-millionaire population density in the country according to research from WealthInsight. Coronation Road and Oxford Avenue are the most exclusive streets in Sandhurst. There are few cluster developments, with most homes set on large properties. Estate agents specialising in Sandhurst will tell you that there is a shortage of stock. Buyers are in two categories: those wanting new mansions, usually on larger grounds; and then the buyers looking for luxury clusters. Finding brand new homes for sale on an acre or two is almost impossible. With the high cost of land in Sandhurst, one needs developers with deep pockets and strong financial constitutions. Generally, existing homes sell from R14 million up to R100 million.
Clusters range from R10 million to in excess of R35 million. Quite interestingly there are viewsite properties in Sandhurst. Obviously attracting higher prices, these north-sloping ervens provide superb views to the north and west towards the Magaliesberg. First prize are the south-entry stands which allow homes to be placed advantageously to take in these views, and letting in the sunshine into entertainment areas and bedrooms. Nestled within Sandhurst is the world-renowned Saxon Hotel and Spa. Covering six hectares of hugely valuable land; it was witness to history within its cosseted walls as it became home to Nelson Mandela after he was released from prison. It was during this time that South Africa’s former President used the serene setting of this hotel to edit his autobiography: Long Walk to Freedom. Today, at any given time, one could easily bump into the likes of Shakira and Bill Clinton enjoying the home-from-home pampering that the Saxon is well known for.
It’s the little things
What separates the homes of the rich and famous from the norm are the “extravagant necessities” that come with these trophy properties. It’s these must-haves that affluent home owners come to expect that result in high price tags. For example, one newly constructed home in Sandhurst, which is architecturally inspired by the Aaron Spelling mansion in California, has its own private bowling alley. Often referred to as “superhomes”, these fantastic new residences are not unlike private boutique hotels for their well-heeled and well-travelled owners. And Sandhurst is their Grand Central! Private cinemas, spas, hair-salons, and gymnasiums are a few of the luxe amenities that can be found within these homes. There are a few architectural designers that specialise in these trophy homes, which can take up to three years to finish, usually with a highly skilled team of architects, interior architects, interior designers, landscapers, electrical and structural engineers to assist. Creating the ultimate lifestyle for affluent owners may also require a modicum of psychology and fashion sense. One architect who recently completed a new Sandhurst home, explained that the owners need to have an additional dressing room off their hair salon. Also a lift had to be placed close by with direct access to the basement parking for 22 cars. Apparently the wife and three daughters, having had their hair and make-up completed; would get dressed in ball-gowns, and then required immediate access to the limousine that would ferry them to the Sandton Convention Centre. Many Sandhurst homes have both indoor and outdoor pools, which of course are heated. Squash courts are popular, as are fully equipped gymnasiums with steam rooms, and saunas. Spas feature massage rooms, oxygen therapy tanks and flotation pools. Very often these private family sanctuaries are modelled on those found on the owners’ travels; such as at the Bulgari and Armani hotels. Home cinemas are to be expected; and are usually found with individual seating or arranged more casually with sofas and chaises. One home actually has a “movies foyer” with café-type seating, as well as popcorn and slushy machines.
Kitchens are often split between “show” and “working” sections, almost duplicating the appliances and work surfaces. Formal dining rooms just seem to be getting larger (or longer) with one Sandhurst home boasting a 7m-long walnut dining table. Leading ladies definitely require expansive dressing rooms. Apart from separate dressing areas, it is not unusual to find the fairer sex enjoying spaces in excess of 80m2. Cabinetry designers need to be up-to-speed with specific compartments for Birkins (separating floppy from the stand-alone handbags), as well as scarves, jewellery, belts and sunglasses. The latest smart home technology is paramount with these superhomes. Not simply content with controlled lighting and music; these larger properties often feature the latest energy-saving and efficiency devices. Pools that are filled up automatically, “home” and “party” moods, electric curtains and blinds to name a few. It is little wonder that Sandhurst is a magnate for those fortunate enough to have made it big. With that comes the trappings and luxuries associated with the homes and lifestyles within this wealthy enclave.