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10 promising counties in real estate this year

REAL ESTATE
By Peter Muiruri | January 9th 2020

As developers try to get over the jitters of last year’s depressed performance, they might need to look further afield. Here are some of the areas that look promising:

Nairobi: The capital will always be at the top of the heap. It enjoys high capital expenditure on infrastructure. Nairobi has the highest GDP per capita of $2,063 (Sh208,924), a 4.3 million-strong population with the highest spending power in the country. According to Cytonn Investments, serviced apartments around Westlands, Kilimani and Limuru Road have promising returns of 10.8, 9.5 and 9.4 per cent respectively in comparison to market averages of 7.4 per cent.

Mombasa: With a reinvigorated port, new road bypasses and an economic zone, Mombasa is primed for takeoff. The new infrastructure projects will act as magnets reeling in investors keen to house the expected working population. With a GDP per capita of $1,635 (Sh165,580), investors will hope to harness the spending power of locals. However, local authorities have an uphill task fixing the city’s drainage system, as most residential estates become no-go zones during heavy rains.

Kiambu: Together with Kajiado and Machakos, Kiambu serves as Nairobi’s bedroom. In June last year, the government announced plans to convert the road to a dual carriageway and end the traffic woes. Similarly, the upgrading of Waiyaki Way towards Limuru will give more impetus to real estate development in Kinoo, Kikuyu, Sigona and Rironi. Most of the land in Kiambu is family owned, with few encumbrances, thus offering high returns. Ruiru, Thika, Juja, Ruaka and Kikuyu have emerged as property hot spots within the county.

Kajiado: This is one of the few counties near Nairobi with ample land at affordable prices. Saccos investing in land on members’ behalf have made Kajiado a preferred destination. The two new standard gauge railway stations located within the county will no doubt attract a new wave of settlements. Kitengela, Isinya, Ongata Rongai and Kiserian are the county’s property hot spots.

Kisumu: The County has failed to take full advantage of key factors that should make it one of the top investment destinations. It sits on Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater body in Africa, and the largest inland fishery in the world. “Its resources fuel the economies of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Its catchment provides 90 per cent of Uganda’s hydropower, [hydropower] for Burundi and Rwanda, and water supply for major urban centers like Kampala, Kigali and Mwanza,” states the World Bank. Hopefully, the rehabilitation of Kisumu Port might bring cruise ship business and foster the need for high end accommodation.

Machakos: The ongoing expansion of Mombasa Road from Chumvi junction to Nairobi-Namanga junction at Athi River offers key investment opportunities. Already the county has been earmarked for the construction of 8,888 affordable houses, with more in the pipeline. Availability of land, coupled with a progressive property registration regime, should have investors trooping to the county.

Kilifi: The County is a key destination for holiday homes popular with high net-worth individuals. While Vipingo Ridge is a pioneer on this front, other major players have joined in on the party. In 2018, Centum Investment Plc broke ground for a Sh100 billion industrial park that will sit on 10,254 acres of former Sisal estate.

Nakuru: Like Kilifi, Nakuru County has a number of high end developments, especially around Naivasha. The County is the preferred holiday destination for Kenyans after the beach. In addition, the proposed new economic zone will spur the logistics sector and call for more construction as skilled workers descend on the county. Big names in construction include Resorts and Cities with their flagship project, Longonot Gate.

Meru: The County will soon host one of Africa’s largest hybrid renewable energy plants following a deal signed last year in Japan between Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) and Meru County Government. The Sh15 billion deal will provide 80 megawatts of clean energy that will ease the cost of doing business. Expected to power over 200,000 households, the project will spur the development of modern homes and additional hospitality outlets.

Laikipia: Wildlife conservation, large-scale farming and military bases combine to provide the framework for real estate investment here. Like Kilifi and Naivasha, the region is ripe for holiday homes, especially around Nanyuki and Naro Moru.

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