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Kenya property sector recovers due to strong economic growth

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s property sector recovered in the fourth quarter of 2018 due to strong economic growth, experts said on Thursday.

Sakina Hassanali, head of development, consulting and research at real estate firm Hass Consult, told journalists in Nairobi that the economic slowdown of the last two years has played out across the real estate industry, slowing activity and uptake and leading in some few places, such as apartment rentals, to actual price falls.

"However, after some early signs of recovery from the middle of last year, the industry experienced a marked and general recovery in the fourth quarter which resulted in working class and middle-class Kenyans beginning to experience some improvement in their disposable incomes," Hassanali said.

She noted that there was an industry-wide recovery in the final months of 2018, with rents rising, sales prices rising, and industry activity picking up generally, after the marked declines of 2017 and early 2018.

"The strongest recovery came in apartment rental prices, which have suffered almost a decade of lack-lustre growth, driven by intensive building throughout Nairobi and its suburbs," Hassanali said.

She added that the somewhat slower pace of apartment building in the last two years has finally seen demand catching up with the available space, lifting occupancy and driving apartment rents upwards sharply by November and December 2018.

She observed that overall, apartment rental prices rose by 15.9 percent, which was the most marked rise since mid-2009.

"As the leading asset class within real estate for private landlords, apartments have been among the most volatile for pricing, but the falls in apartment rental prices throughout 2017 gave way to stabilizing prices from January 2018, and a surge in rents by the final quarter of the year," she revealed.

According to Hass Consult, the weakest recovery was in the segment of the property market dominated by international renters and thus affected by the ongoing global slowdown.


Chinese contractors play positive role in Kenya’s housing market: Expert

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Chinese contractors are playing a positive role in Kenya’s housing market, a land expert said on Wednesday.

Mwenda Makathimo, executive director of the Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI) which advocates for land justice by empowering local communities in Kenya, told Xinhua in Nairobi that Chinese contractors have improved the turnaround time for the real estate sector.

"Chinese contractors have increased the supply of affordable houses and hence help to stabilize the price of houses in the country," Makathimo said during the release of a report on the status of service delivery in the land sector.

The report recommends the government to computerize land records in order to ensure easy and faster retrieval of information.

Makathimo, former chairman of the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya who was also a Commissioner of the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission, noted that real estate players from the Asian nation have injected a lot of discipline and efficiency in Kenya’s construction sector.

"Kenyan contractors can learn a lot from their Chinese counterparts and borrow techniques to use to reduce the housing deficit," he said.

According to LDGI, the prices of houses have remained beyond the reach of many ordinary citizens due to the high cost of land especially in the urban centers.

Makathim observed that Chinese contractors have been able to lower the cost of housing units by delivering a large number of houses per unit of land.



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