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Where Kenya’s super rich own homes

By Ferdinand Mwongela | Published Thu, March 16th 2017 at 00:00, Updated March 15th 2017 at 21:20 GMT +3
Osero in Amboseli

Kenya’s super-rich typically own up to three homes on average. At least seven in ten own homes locally; the same number owns homes in Europe while 16 per cent own homes in North America and five per cent in the Middle East. This is according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report 2017 released last week.

“Over the next two years, 46 per cent of resident Kenyan HNWIs (high net worth individuals) are likely to buy additional homes within the country, while 43 per cent are looking outside the country. In addition, 59 per cent of HNWIs in Kenya are looking to invest in commercial properties locally, while 44 per cent are looking to buy abroad,” says the report.

And while most of Kenya’s super-rich are likely to own a home locally, four per cent of the global wealthy population look to own homes in Kenya — led by the United Kingdom high net worth population where 63 per cent fancy owning a home in Kenya, followed by 16 per cent of South Africa’s wealthy, and 11 per cent of Spanish, Mauritians and United States rich high net worth individuals.

“About five per cent of the super-rich in Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Switzerland, France, Canada and Lebanon are also likely to acquire homes in Kenya. At the same time, Kenya is currently among the top-five most popular second-home locations for Africa’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals,” said the report.

According to Knight Frank, these insights come even as prime residential prices in Nairobi decreased by 2.1 per cent in 2016, making it more attractive for trophy house hunters. Prime residential houses are currently priced from Sh81.6 million in Nairobi.

“With the upcoming election, we have noted a slow-down in development. This will allow the market to re-absorb the oversupply which will reverse the marginal price decline,” Ben Woodhams, Knight Frank Kenya managing director, said.

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The report shows that despite the much-talked about high cost of property in Nairobi, the city compares favourably with others around the world in terms of prime property you can buy for $1m (Sh102 million). In Nairobi, that would get you 584 square metres of prime property, as compared to 209 in Cape Town in South Africa, 126 in Dubai, 30 in London or 17 in Monaco.

The report pointed out that high net worth individuals (or more simply the wealthy) invest 28 per cent of their wealth in real estate. Which goes towards validating the oft-thrown-around claim of real estate becoming the preferred investment vehicle as compared to the stock market. Next in line is personal business at 20 per cent and equities, bonds, cash and precious metals at 18 per cent.

“Kenyan HNWIs clearly realise the long-term stability that property investments offer in an otherwise volatile market together with the good returns that the sector has demonstrated in the past,” said Woodhams.

According to the Wealth Report, up to 900 Kenyans became dollar millionaires in 2016, raising the tally of local HNWIs – those worth $1 million (Sh102 million) or more in assets excluding primary residences – to 9,400 people from 8,500 in 2015. Majority of them – 6,800 – live in Nairobi.

Of the super-rich looking to invest in commercial property abroad, at least half prefer Europe, 12 per cent North America and six per cent the Middle East. At the same time, almost seven out of 10 (69 per cent) of Kenya’s wealthy are likely to invest in commercial property locally.

But what leads their investment decisions?  Wealth preservation and capital growth are on top of the list.