Kiambu investors tailor-making homes for middle class

Wednesday September 21 2016

Golf View Villas in Kirigiti, Kiambu County,

Golf View Villas in Kirigiti, Kiambu County, which are tailor-made for the middle class. PHOTO| ERIC WAINAINA 

By ERIC WAINAINA
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In the past few years  the property market in Kiambu County has grown tremendously.

However, those who wanted property in the county, which is regarded as one of  Nairobi’s dormitory towns, have had  to pay between Sh25 million and Sh40 million or more for a unit.

The high asking prices have put the houses effecively locked out the middle-and low-income earners.

But some developers are now tailor-making products for the middle class with a view to making the most of the growing population that has continued to create a huge demand for homes.

For instance, Chrisfield Developers Ltd has put up Golf View Villas, a small gated community  located in the fast growing Kirigiti area on the outskirts of Kiambu Town.

The project comprises spacious, four-bedroom master en suite middle-class units, which are going for Sh16 million each.

“The houses are not inferior to the high-end houses in terms of facilities, only that they have been tailor-made to accommodate even middle-income earners who want to own decent homes in Kiambu but cannot raise the Sh40 million demanded by other estate developers around,” says Mr Dennis Moses, the architect of Gold View Villas.

Mr John Mwaniki, the director of Jekmass Services, a real estate agency with interests in Kiambu and Nairobi counties, says property prices in Kiambu have unnecessarily locked out thousands of potential home owners.

“Sometimes the cost does not match the actual products because it is inflated for prestige, depending on the project’s location. For instance, most parts of Kiambu, like Kiambu Road, are considered prestigious addresses and, therefore, attract people who are willing to pay any amount to get a house, regardless of the size,” Mr Mwaniki adds.

He says this has had a negative effect on property prices since developers were sure that even with a single unit going for as much as Sh40 million, they would still get buyers. As a result, they did not pay much attention to the lower classes.  

In his opinion, developers in the county need to think big and come up with impressive products targeting the low- and middle-income earners,  who comprise “an instant market”.

He says developers who want to remain in business should consider putting up affordable houses in areas that are considered prime because that will enable them to take advantage of economies of scale and, thereby, earn them more than if they focus on high-end products. 

“With the recent capping of interest rates on bank loans, mortgages are now  affordable even to low-income earners. And if developers were to put up units with them in mind, they could cash in on volumes,” he said.

Another advantage of building low- and middle-class units is that they  take up less space compared with the high-end products, allowing  a developer to put up more units, he adds

Kiambu Town is surrounded by a number of high-end gated communities, where a three-bedroom house goes for not less than Sh25 million.