Changing customer preferences are now driving the property market, presenting a new challenge to developers.
This means that developers have to keep up with the changing market trends while maintaining affordability, according to Mr Daniel Ojijo, the founder and organiser of Kenya Homes Expo.
Speaking during a status briefing for the 18th edition of Kenya Homes Expo, which runs from 14 to 17 November, Mr Ojijo said the event, which links developers and other exhibitors with buyers, will take these dynamics into consideration.
He added that the expo, themed “Redefine Your Living”, could not have come at a better time, given that buyers’ preferences for housing are changing, irrespective of whether they are from the upper, middle, or lower classes.
This trend has forced developers back to the drawing board to seek ways of satisfying these new demands.
According to Mr Thinwa Kadai, the property director at Villa Care Limited, a discerning developer needs to keep abreast of these shifting dynamics.
“Engaging the services of a professional project manager and real estate agent is invaluable to any developer.
These professionals will ensure that a developer undertakes a project that is designed to meet market demands and in turn record stellar progress,” he explained.
Exotic designs borrowed from places such as Dubai and the United Kingdom are attracting greater attention in the up-market and middle-income homes segments.
It is this growing demand for unique housing that has attracted a growing number of exhibitors to the expo, he says.
Exhibitors will come from South Africa, China, Germany, and Turkey.
“The high-end market in the industry has been evolving since the late nineties, such that a client with more than Sh10 million would be looking for an exclusive bungalow in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi.
Although this market segment has maintained its demand for exquisite products and finishes, the focus is shifting from bungalows to exclusive, gated townhouses that cost between Sh60 million and Sh100 million.
These houses should have the latest and best designs, finishes, and technological innovations incorporating intelligent security features that are remote-controlled,” Mr Ojijo elaborated.
In addition, these buyers are keen on serene locations and elegance.
Places like Lavington, which have low-density apartment blocks and well-thought-out finishes, are encouraging buyers to part with between Sh25 million and Sh50 million, said Mr Kagai.
Elegance that comes with affordability has also been a driving force for buyers in the high-income segment, noted Mr Ojijo.
“We expect these details to set the agenda for discussion between exhibiting developers and visitors during the 18th edition of the Blue Triangle Cement Kenya Homes Expo,” he said.
Such development projects blend state-of-the-art designs with luxury at less than half the price of townhouses.
While similar developments would cost more than Sh65 million, developments such as the Dutchess Park in Lavington are going for Sh28 million, with three-bedroom apartments with staff quarters having a generous plinth area of around 2,300 square feet while five-bedroom en suite duplexes with staff quarters have plinth areas of around 3,800square feet.
They also have a study niche, a fireplace, and a large kitchen with an island.
In these residential areas, home owners can enjoy a common gym, clubhouse, swimming pool, basketball court, tennis court, lifts, and back-up generator, Mr Ojijo noted.
Mr Kadai said properties in Karen and Rosslyn, off Limuru Road, have also attracted high-end buyers because they incorporate the facilities buyers are looking for.
The middle market segment’s taste is also changing, with buyers now preferring houses in good locations, which should ideally also have functional as well as recreational amenities and exquisite designs and finishes.
Gated communities comprising apartments located in good areas as well as mixed-use developments incorporating maisonettes and apartments are considered major selling points in attracting middle-class buyers.
The price range for this market is between Sh12 million and Sh20 million.
Such developments are found in locations such as Madaraka, Kileleshwa, Lavington, and off Kiambu Road.
These developments seek to strike a perfect balance between luxury, quality, and cost, all key concerns of the middle-class market.
They feature plinth areas of between 1,650sqft and 2,100sqft, spacious lounges with a dining area, a covered swimming pool with changing rooms, lifts, stand-by generator, gym, clubhouse, electric fence with CCTV cameras, and covered parking, says Mr Kadai.
The low-end market segment has also seen the development of products ranging from Sh5 million to Sh11 million.
Successful developments within this market segment, having taken advantage of cheaper land, which has been opened up following the massive infrastructure development in road and rail networks witnessed in Nairobi in the past five years.
Areas that were previously unattractive because of transport problems like Mombasa, Thika, Kiambu, and Ngong roads are now easily accessible, noted Mr Kagai.
New infrastructure has also opened up areas like Isinya, Kajiado, Garissa Road, past Thika town, Kinoo, and Uthiru to the low-end markets, he added.
“However, for these developers to attract buyers, they have had to improve the quality of their products significantly to offer good but affordable finishes and workmanship.
This has been a major wake-up call to developers, who were previously operating on the notion that affordability meant compromising on quality by offering cheap materials coupled with poor workmanship,” says Mr Ojijo.
Successful developments targeting this market segment have had to greatly improve the quality of finishes to compensate for the greater distance that home owners in these places have to travel, noted Ojijo.
To ease the problems associated with being far from the central business district, these low-end home designs are bringing basic amenities closer to home owners, featuring fully-fledged commercial centres, nursery schools, grocery shops, and mini-marts so that home owners have access to most of the facilities they need near home.
With quality among the most important considerations, the developments also have cabro-paved driveways, perimeter walls with electric fencing, UPVC windows, rain water harvesting systems, boreholes, backup generators, video intercom with access control cards, solar heating and lighting, community centre, gym, and children’s playgrounds.
Three-bedroom units with a master en suite have plinth areas of around 1,300 sq ft and two bedroom units 1,000 sq ft and are selling at a bargain price of Sh5.5 million and Sh4.3 million respectively.