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Mombasa steps up with second real estate expo

By | Updated Thu, December 17th 2009 at 00:00 GMT +3

Willis Oketch

This weekend will see Mombasa host its second homes expo after the inaugural one in April this year, a testimony to the growth of the real estate sub sector at the Coast. Across Mombasa town and its environs, the development of residential houses and business premises is taking place at a high rate. Some areas are going through a revolutionary phase as others like Nyali are turned into small towns.

Real estate developer Stephen Mwanzia admits there is a revolution of property development in Mombasa. He says this is one of the reasons why developers from Nairobi are moving to Mombasa to take advantage of the ready market.

"I have established an office in Mombasa after I discovered there is ready market for real estate business," says Mwanzia. "If you invest in a real estate in Mombasa, it is a guarantee you will get double profit after three years," he said.

Exhibitors

Mwanzia, the proprietor of Ndatani Enterprises, is one of the participants in the expo, which kicks off tomorrow at the White Sands Hotel.

He says Kenyans interested in owning homes or any other property should attend the exhibition. "This is where we are going to explain to our customers the types of property we have and other things we offer," he said.

He adds that the expo has been organised to take place this month because it is when many Kenyans flock to Mombasa for holidays. "The holiday makers are our potential customers. We will have face to face discussions with our clients," he explains.

Mwanzia says that many Kenyans have become more informed and demanding, requiring developers to reinvent themselves to meet the expectations of their clients. "Most developers will exhibit new designs of houses, which meet the emerging demands in the market," says Mwanzia.

This is the second Mombasa expo and it is expected to attract many exhibitors.

Myspace Properties Chief Executive Mwenda Thuranira says the event has attracted 43 exhibitors as opposed to April when there were 32. "We are optimistic that many people will attend the exhibition to learn more on how to own a home in Mombasa and its environs," he said.

Among the companies which have started moving their merchandise in preparation for the exhibition include Eden developers, Night Bridge Apartments and Ndatani Enterprises apartments.

Inspiring Lectures

Others expected include Oak Apartments, Shikara Company, Tudor Apartment developers, Gulf developers all who are expected to meet the high demand of information on real estate.

"We will give our prospective customers value for the time they will spend in the exhibition," says Thuranira. He says those interested in inspiring lectures about real estate development are invited for a conference today at White Sands Hotel starting 9am.

Swahili Houses

Top Bank Managers, architects and successful businessmen are expected in the conference before the exhibition kicks off tomorrow. Housing Minister Soita Shitanda will officially open the exhibition before presenting gifts to the winners of the event.

Thuranira says during the event, property developers will also showcase new designs in interior decoration. "We will also have financial institutions to advise those interested in building or buying homes on what to do in order to get development loans," he said.

Among the sponsors of the event are Myspace Properties and Housing Finance, which hold the title of Gold and Silver respectively.

Thuranira says they expect Platinum sponsors in subsequent events.

Among personalities expected in the exhibition is Harriet Catharine Mwalwala, a renowned Swahili real estate businesswoman. "I ventured in Swahili house building as it is cheap and easy to build," says Mwalwala.

She says the houses use small space unlike those in Nyali. She explains that a Swahili developer can spend between Sh1.5 million and Sh1.8 million unlike those at Nyali who spend a fortune and fail to get a market immediately.

Mwalwala argues that it is unwise to spend Sh18 million and repay within 20 years. "I spend Sh1.5 million to build a Swahili house and repay that loan within five years and start enjoying the profit," she explains.

New Concept

She says getting tenants for houses in Nyali is not easy and even when you get one, they might pay Sh20,000 as rent per month. For a single room or two rooms, Mwalwala gets between Sh3,000 and Sh5,000 for each room, which translates to about Sh25,000 for every Swahili house.

"Any investment, which can bring returns within five years is a very good project. I have disproved wrong many people who believe Swahili houses do not bring returns within a short period," says Mwalwala.

The proprietor of Solomon’s Gate Ngugi Waireri concurs with Mwalala, saying getting buyers of up-market houses in Mombasa is not easy. "I am also thinking of venturing in low and middle class housing because most people who buy such houses come from up country and those in Diaspora," says Waireri.

Mwalwala says tenants scramble for her bed-sitter rooms because of the new concept of Swahili houses she has come up with. She says the new concept of building bed-sitters or double rooms with toilets and a kitchen is very popular among low-income groups.

"As you know, the old Swahili houses are dying and that is why I decided to build modern Swahili houses," She says.

She adds that Swahili houses have a big market for the low-income groups who cannot afford new high-rise buildings coming up in the area. "Whenever I start building a Swahili house at Kisauni or Changamwe they are always booked in advance," she said. "These rooms make occupants feel they are living a modern life as they have their own toilets and kitchens," she says.

"You cannot go wrong in real estate business even if you start with Sh100,000," she says, recalling how she built a Swahili house in 1994, which later inspired her to venture more in to the business. She later quit her job after she started getting returns immediately.

"Although at the beginning it was not easy, I struggled hard with the help of my husband and my father until I started realising good results," says Mwalwala.

She calls on women to venture into the business as it is well paying. She, however, warns that there are many challenges such as securing loan and keeping track of tenants.

Mwalwala designs the houses with the help of her father who is an architect. She also does the decoration.

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