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Harcourts Delta - 40 Years in the Making

How the South has changed Over the last four decades Colin Rodrigues has seen the South grow from its working-class roots to become one of the most vibrant and diverse parts of Johannesburg today.

When Cesar Rodrigues and I opened Delta Estates on Turf Club Street in Turffontein in 1976 it was just six months after the Soweto uprising. This was not the time to be in property as many people were leaving the country. But we persevered and today Harcourts Delta is one of only two real estate agencies operating in the South in the 1970s that is still in business today. 

Our main area of operation was in what today is referred to as the Old South. It was a working class area that at the time was experiencing a huge influx of Portuguese immigrants from Mozambique. Many of these people were skilled artisans – carpenters, builders, roofers, tilers – and suddenly there were renovations taking place on every street. Suburbs like La Rochelle, Rosettenville and Turffontein were transformed overnight. Properties in the areas sold for between R14,000 and R18,000. 

In the late 1970s the most sought after suburb in the South was Mondeor. Surrounded by the hills of the Klipriversberg Nature Reserve it was known for its lovely homes with their prized gardens. The neighbouring areas of Glenanda, Glenvista, Bassonia and Mulbarton, which up until the sixties were farmland, were just starting to be developed. 

In 1973 the Glenvista Country Club opened and property surrounding this beautiful course became sought after with houses selling for between R23,000 and R28,000 at the time. Today you need a couple of million to even consider buying a property in this area. 

A highlight for us as Delta was being part of the Star Homes Show in 1985. Through our sister company Delta Construction we built one of a dozen modern homes in the newly established suburb of Bassonia. This really put us, and this up and coming area, on the map. 

The real estate industry was a very different business back then. You needed to be visible with walk-ins being an important business driver. To grow our business in the “New South” we opened a second office in the Glenvista Shopping Centre in 1989. 

When we started Delta Estates real estate agencies were family-owned businesses and were all relatively small compared to today’s large franchise groups. But as the benefits of networks and national referrals became more apparent, we saw the value in being part of a nationwide group and joined Homenet in 1995, moving to our current premises in Mondeor. This move coincided with an exciting period for the South of Johannesburg. With the end of apartheid came the opportunity for people of all races to own property. The South, given its relatively affordable areas and proximity to Soweto, became one of Johannesburg’s most integrated areas. 

The twenty first century has seen the development of upmarket shopping centres in the South, well-priced townhouse complexes catering for the country’s growing middle class as well as exclusive security estates. 

In 2008 Homenet entered into an association with Harcourts International, one of the leading real estate companies of the world, hence the change of name to Harcourts Delta. Marc Rodrigues and Michael Sears joined the company in 2012 and took over the management and ownership in 2013. Cesar and I have remained on an advisory capacity. Marc and Mike’s arrival has seen some exciting changes for Harcourts Delta including a move to the North, with the opening of another office in Parkhurst in 2016. We now look forward to an exciting future that will see us take what we have learnt over the last four decades in the South to other parts of Johannesburg as well.