DEMAND FOR HOUSING ON THE RISE AS REAL ESTATE CONTINUES TO DEFY MARKET CONDITIONS, SAYS HOMES SHOW ORGANIZERS

Hatheru road, Lavington

Superb property in Lavington, Nairobi

Buyers, developers and related industry players in Kenya’s property sector will be coming together, for the second time this year, between November 14th and 17th in the 18th edition of East and Central Africa’s biggest homes show, Blue Triangle Cement-Kenya Homes Expo, to among other things discuss and showcase sector trends at a time when customer preference for apartments is on a notable high, having doubled in the last three months, with foreigners especially expatriates and locals drive sales.

This as investors shift to property as their preferred investment vehicle and as affordability become a defining factor in making buying decision for both local buyers, expatriates and Kenyans in the diaspora. “Blue Triangle Cement-Kenya Homes Expo prides in bringing developers and buyers together for four days to share such market sentiments that have continued to preserve their interests in the market and lay down bubble burst fears,” said Mr Daniel Ojijo, founder and organizer of Kenya Homes Expo speaking during the signing of a sponsorship agreement with the expo’s 4 years title sponsor East African Portland Cement. “The 18th edition will be an exciting one for stakeholders following interesting market revelation where among others demand for apartments between May and August 2013 has more than doubled,” said Ojijo. “We expect developers and buyers to share some of these prevailing market ideas and hence come up with more targeted projects.”

Currently, buyers seem to prefer spending an average of 20million for a luxury 3 to 4 bedroom house on an apartment rather than spending double the price in a standalone or townhouse but located within sprawling estates according to Ojijo. “Those buying for investment prefer apartments sold at off-plan compared to those already constructed as the former are selling at more than 50 percent or higher upon completion,” he added.

According to Ojijo new developers have learnt this trick hence leaning towards development of high-rise apartments as opposed to the development of stand-alone houses as they are getting double returns from apartments. For example, the 360 apartments coming up in Mlolongo off Mombasa Road has been selling an average of 30units in the last three months for between Sh4.5 and 5.5 million shillings for 2 and 3 bedroom respectively. Another project, Riviera Towers, 2 and 3bedroom luxury apartments, on Chaka Road, near Yaya Centre have only three units out of 60 remaining even after the developer raised the sale price from sh25million in February to Sh30million. 50 percent of all the sales have been in the last three months. “Due to the prevailing economic times and the political temperature in the country especially around the ICC, investors seem to prefer property market as compared to Nairobi Stock Exchange and hence buying apartments at off plan sales as they eye greater returns,” said Ojijo.

Though increased number of expatriate especially in the mining sector is also driving sales of houses, most of these high end buyers are locals with same spending power to expatriates according to Ojijo. Industry reports indicate in 2013, apartments have taken up 40.1percent of the market, Town Houses 26.5percent while Standalone houses are at 33.4 percent of the market.

The Hass Index reported in June 2013 that apartments in both duplexes and triplexes have had their values increased by 2.39 times since 2001, a 1.7percent rise from January to April this year and 6.6% rise in the last year. The average price for an apartment is currently 12.5 million up from 5.2 million in December 2000 according to the Hass property Index. “We expect the one stop shop provided by Blue Triangle Cement-Kenya Homes Expo to developers, buyers and other players to give them an opportunity to not only interact but also share market ideas while promoting real estate buying, financing and development consulting and generally keeping the industry activity at an all-time high,” said Ojijo.

With the 17th edition having attracted a record number of 40,000 visitors and a record 150 exhibitors, the organizers are already preparing to take up more space at KICC to meet increased demand for stalls. “95 percent of the exhibitors who took part in the 17th edition in May have already confirmed taking part and numerous new ones have come on board. Also, we have high number of multinationals and foreign firms coming on board especially from China, Germany, South Africa, Turkey and India,’” said Maureen Ojijo, Marketing Director at Homes Kenya Limited and lead organizer at the 18th Blue Triangle Cement-Kenya Homes Expo. “Our theme for this edition is ‘redefining your living’ illustrating our aim to bring new ways of real estate purchase by providing an unrivaled environment for clients to meet with exhibitors who will guide them on a comfortable ride to home ownership,” she explained. The exhibitors include a pool of service providers and sellers drawn from the financial sector, insurers, energy suppliers, residential and commercial property developers, industry associations and government bodies, property valuers, constructors, development consultants, entertainment, interior decorators, travel, leisure and more.

Since its launch in 2005, Blue Triangle Cement-Kenya Homes Expo has generated thousands of sales leads for selling participants and assisted hundreds of investors who after acquiring necessary market information have come up with multimillion projects according to the organizers. “This expo provides a great opportunity for Sadolin to market and sell her products as home buyers and property developers account for 60 percent of our customers,” said Jamil Virjee, the Managing Director at Sadolin Paints, one of the gold sponsors of the 18th edition. Other sponsors of the event include Hot Point Appliances Limited, Wananchi Group Limited and Standard Chartered bank who are also the editions’ gold sponsors.

Hot Point Appliances Limited’s Showroom Manager, Ms. Ritu Magon, whose firm exhibited in the home appliances in the 17th edition, is again a proud gold sponsor for the 18th edition in November buoyed by numerous sales opportunities and brand awareness the company has since obtained.

“The homes show has been a great avenue for us not only to sell our brand but gives us the opportunity to personalize our clients requirements. Most importantly, we work with all stakeholders to upgrade and redefine lifestyles of individuals and this gives us the motivation to sponsor the event,” Ms. Magon said. Kenya Homes Expo has been running for the last eight years, and it is the only expo that has created the largest housing forum in the whole of East and Central Africa where the stakeholders meet face to face in one platform twice a year. The expo is a unique one stop-shop for real estate’s stake holders presenting new products, innovative services and technology. It offers exhibitors a unique opportunity to use the strength of the brand to reach a large target and ready audience of both local and international visitors. Over the years, Kenya Homes Expo has been able to generate not only high quality audiences and sale leads for exhibitors but also great bargains for attendees.

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