For a long time, while other areas in the outskirts of Nairobi continued to experience unprecedented growth, Ruai, Joska, Kamulu and other areas along Kangundo Road had remained stagnated, thanks to lack of infrastructure which was discouraging investors.
But the area, which despite its proximity to the capital looks like a semi-arid area, mostly because of under development, is now getting a major facelift after investors begun putting up housing projects not only to rental, but also for sale.
Presently, the area which stretches between Nairobi and Machakos counties, is dotted with modern maisonettes, bungalows and storey flats-both for commercial and residential use, and in almost every corner, more buildings under construction.
Several hardware establishments selling construction materials have also camped in the main trading centres in the area such as Ruai, Joska and Kamulu, a manifestation of booming property sector in the area where rates have shot up by even 300 per cent.
For instance, Soil Merchants Limited, a real estate firm that has existed for ten years, is putting up a multimillion gated community near Malaa Trading Center dubbed “Kamulu Heights” which comprises of 100 two and three-bedroom master en suite bungalows.
According to Mr Sammy Kanyoro, the sales manager, the project is being implemented in two phases-the first one comprising of 60 units is already complete and occupied, while the second phase will have 40 units.
Each of the units is meticulously set on an eighth acre plot of land complemented with features such as tarmacked access roads, cloakrooms, ceramic floors, large parking for three cars and a sizeable compound with lush landscape gardens.
NINETY PER CENT COMPLETE
Mr Kanyoro said the project which kicked off last year, and which will increase the total number of units constructed by the firm over the years in Thika, Kiserian, Ngong, Kitengela and Rongai, is expected to be complete by the end of February next year, noting that the current phase is already ninety per cent complete.
When the project begun, the units were costing four million shillings but the cost has since gone up to five million shillings, mainly because of inflation and the increasing property value since the area has continued to attract more investors.
“Previously, very few people, especially those who commute to the capital would have thought of settling in Kamulu and other areas around it because they considered it to be not only far but also undeveloped compared to other areas like Rongai, Kitengela and Athi River. But with the construction of Kangundo Road and the skyrocketing of land prices near the city, has lured investors in the area leading to an increase in land prices,” Mr Kanyoro said.
One can buy the houses either in cash or through mortgage, whereby one makes a 10 per cent deposit and financing of 90 per cent is arranged between the bank, developer and buyer, with the ownership documents serving as security.
According to Kanyoro, when the company begun the construction, many people thought that they were making the wrong investment, supposedly because no one would want to buy the houses because of the location they are.
DESPERATE TO OWN HOMES
But soon after groundbreaking, more than 50 per cent of the units were bought off plan, a manifestation of the desperate need by the middle class to own homes regardless of the location, adding that Kangundo Road has made transport between the area and the city easy.
“Very few people were looking at that area as one of the next frontier in the real estate sector mostly because of its location and how it had been underdeveloped. But with the construction of the road, which have made the area only minutes’ drive the to the city and the rising property cost in other areas, many people, especially those who want to settling are scrambling for any available space in the area,” he added.
Though the land prices in the area are relatively affordable compared to others areas with the same proximity in the city, Mr Kanyoro said it has been difficult for the investors to build and sell the houses at a matching cost.
This is because, though land is the main determinate of the cost of the end product, lack of government services such as water, sewerage system and roads have forced investors to dig deeper into their pocket to make their products attractive, a burden that is transferred to the buyer.
For example, at Kamulu Heights, the developer has drilled a mega borehole to supply the estate with clean water because there is no government water project, installed a septic tank for each unit due to lack of sewerage system and rehabilitated access roads from the main road.
“If we had those in place, we would not have incurred the cost, and this means we would have sold the units at a lower cost that we are selling,” he said, adding that government support in key in ensure that developers are able to float houses in at lower prices.
Mr John Mwaniki, the director of Jekmass Services, a real estate firm with interests in Kiambu, Nairobi and Nakuru counties agrees that if the government was to put the necessary infrastructure, it is possible for developers to put up housing projects even in areas where such development was previously unthinkable.
This, he said will also ensure that the units will be sold and lower cost since the developers will not incur the installation costs, something he said can be a major boost for the government’s affordable housing under the Big Four Agenda.
“There are areas which are not far from the city and other main towns in the country where there is affordable land, but developers have shunned them, not because they are not ideal for housing projects, but because there is no infrastructure to invite such development. But with such services, developers can buy land and sell the final product at lower cost,” he said.