The high-end real estate market in Kenya is actually doing better than one would expect in this economy. Experts have termed Kenya as the number one high-end real estate destination in Africa. There were only a few neighborhoods in the country that could be termed as high end. However, there is more high-end real estate development cropping up in satellite towns. Real estate companies dealing in the expensive luxury houses are making a killing especially with the many foreigners who are willing to buy property in the country. Below are a few things to know about the high-end real estate market.
You will have a variety of choices in terms of both location, size and even type of house. There are high-end two-bedroom apartments that go for about 10 million shillings and more. The excess of this depends on location, size, and amenities available. You could also get a five-bedroom house in Loresho for 100 million shillings. Of course, some houses cost a bit less but the price will still be in the same ballpark. You will also have many choices when it comes to the location from Karen to Runda and even Lavington. It seems that many houses in Lavington cost a bit less than the other two locations. You could also visit some of the developments in satellite towns like Kiambu.
Your choice should be dependent on your needs, the number of residents who will live in the house and convenience. If this will not be the main residence, you should consider going for an apartment instead as it requires less in terms of maintenance. The building management will also usually take over maintenance responsibilities for you especially if you do not live there permanently. The house will require live-in help whether or not you live there permanently.
You need to make a list of what you want in a residence. After you have decided on an apartment or house then you will need to know what to keep an eye out for as you look around. Would you like a pool? What size pool would you like? Should it be an indoor pool or not? Should the pool be kid-friendly with maybe some fencing or a shallow kiddie pool attached to it? How about a Jacuzzi, in addition to or instead of the pool? Where will you want the Jacuzzi? Would you like all ensuite or master ensuite? How luxurious should these bathrooms be? Most, in this case, would go for all ensuite with guest bathrooms thrown in. Would you like a guest house set apart from the main house? What kind of floors? Wood, tile or marble?
How about closet space, is that important? How much closet space do you need or want? You should also think about the square footage. Some do not like obnoxiously big houses with unnecessary rooms. Others like to have space, high ceilings, and multiple stories. The number of stories is another thing to think about. How many should there be? Will any member of your family need to have some accessibility equipment installed? Does the house structure allow for that?
There are three stages of house viewing. The first stage is by looking through the online listings. The pictures are usually pretty conclusive and you get to see most of the house if not all of it. Be wary of listings with bad pictures. These houses are worth hundreds of millions of shillings, surely they can spare a bit of money to get a good camera or a professional photographer. You should also choose the sites you surf carefully. Instead of going for the general ones like Star Classifieds or BuyRent Kenya, go for the real estate management company websites. They tend to give better information and more pictures on these sites. It will also be easier to make inquiries about a particular property.
Some companies like Pam Golding have youtube channels where they post house tours. This is even better than the pictures. You get to feel like you are walking through the house. You can view anonymously without having to submit your details and get calls every other week about it. These tours usually include everything like the outdoor area and all the bathrooms. In some cases, they will even give you a glimpse of the view through a bedroom window.
You could also look for companies that host weekends of open houses. They invite people to look at their properties on one specific day with all-access allowance and unsupervised roaming. You may have to submit your contact information for this which then means that a rep will call you at least once every two weeks
Unlike regular real estate where the expected amenities are a school nearby and a restaurant or two, in high-end real estate amenities can be anything from a golf course to a spa. These are usually the deal closers. They may not be entirely necessary for you to be happy there but they could not hurt. Therefore, compare amenities. What would you enjoy more? A golf course or a spa? Would you enjoy a manmade lake or a kids’ fun zone? What is better suited to your family? While at it, do not completely ignore important things like schools.
Some of these amenities are common in some specific parts of town. Man-made lakes, for example, are common in Karen and satellite towns where they were part of the initial design of the development and the developer does not have to be economical with space. The kind of amenities available will also be reflected in the price of the house.
There are many real estate management companies in Kenya dealing in high-end real estate. A company that has been in the industry for a long time is a good place to start. They will not want to ruin their reputation by conning you. They will also insist on handling things officially and professionally. Their real estate agents will probably be well-groomed professionals. You will have a lot less to worry about with a reputable company rather than one that is barely known.
Some examples are Pam Golding, Hass Consult, Cytonn, Hayerone, and Knight Frank. These are companies that have been in the industry for decades. They have a good reputation. For example, Hass Consult once sold out a development before it was even halfway done. This shows the amount of trust clients have with the company. Their terms will vary so compare.
What kind of setting would you like? Would you like to live in a gated community with only a few houses? Would you like to live in a house with its own enclosure? Would you like to only have a small hedge or a perimeter wall in an estate? Would you like a development where the houses are exactly similar or would you like a bit of distinction? Some people like to maintain that sense of community. Others like to be secluded. Others like to be able to talk to their neighbors over the fence. It is different for everyone. You should decide what you would like. This information will be included in the details section of the listing as well as the residency percentage.
When the realtors are showing the houses either through photos, YouTube or open days, they will stage the house. They will bring in furniture and furnishings like curtains. In some cases, the curtains will be specifically made for that house and may, therefore, come with the house. However, in other cases, everything will be taken away once you have signed on the dotted line. Therefore, you should look past the staging. Look at the quality of the floor without being distracted by the rented carpet. Look at the rooms with your furniture. Imagine yourself living in that house with your own things and not the ones in there. These companies usually use interior decorators so perhaps you could look at how everything is done and borrow some ideas.
You should also find out if all the houses in the development are completed and ready for buyers or if you would have to wait. Some developers complete one unit and show that only to have you wait months for your unit to be completed.
You should ask about safety inspections. Find out about things like fire hazards and building quality. You should ensure that the development has a stamp of quality from all the relevant authorities. You should also make sure to find out if the deed is legitimate. The best way to come up with a checklist of all the legal and safety requirements is to consult a professional realtor and/or a property lawyer. These professionals will help make sure that not only have you fulfilled the legal requirements but that the house and development company are above board.
Navigating high-end real estate for the first will be hard for you. The best way to come out the other side unscathed is to enlist the help of a professional who is entirely on your side and incorruptible so that you do not make mistakes or get conned. Good luck!