New reports show changing tastes of home buyers

Two reports on the status of the housing sector were released over the last one week. These are the Hass Property Index for the second quarter of 2016 released last week and the Kenya Bankers Association – Housing Price Index released on Monday, also covering the same period. Both reports brought out the fact that consumer preferences were defined by, among other things, size, space and amenities.

The biggest take home from the bankers index was that house prices were still rising, albeit marginally. And this, according to the report, showed that the sector was stable.  The same report also pointed out that the “market and supply dynamics”  had not changed significantly from the previous quarter.

Key influencers of price movement were given as “the size of the house as measured by plinth area, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and presence of domestic staff quarters.”

This element was also captured in the Hass Index where asking prices for detached houses recorded the biggest increase of 5.2 per cent. Asking prices for apartments increased by 3.6 per cent and 0.7 per cent for semi-detached houses.

Commenting on this, Sakina Hassanali, head of research and marketing at Hass Consult, said the increase in asking prices for detached houses could be as a result of the “growing appetite for properties that have larger space, offer lawns and garages”.

If this is an indication of trends in the sector, then it shows another element of consumer tastes as the middle-income segment - where most of the new units are targeted.

As the quality of houses and finishing rises, consumers are looking for more elements that set apart the houses they choose to live in.

Not ten years ago, the biggest selling point for homes on the market was the quality of finishing and fixtures: Tiles, wardrobes, kitchen size and what not. Today, according to these reports, the question is space and privacy. As it is, the more the sector grows, the more tastes become elaborate.