Nairobi, Kenya — As land and property prices move out of reach of entry-level buyers in most high rent areas of Nairobi, Eastlands is rising rapidly as a middle class residential area, according to the latest Hass Index report on neighbourhood rents and property prices in 2011.
The fourth quarter 2011 report that revealed Eastlands as an upcoming investment area attributed the growth to the opening of new public transport routes and launch of projects such as Casa Mia that showcases three-bedroom houses at Sh5.25 million.
The index rental prices in up market areas in and around Westlands, including Lower Kabete, Parklands, Spring Valley, Rosslyn, Gigiri and Muthaiga, fell by up to eight per cent, as tenants stretching to pay the high prices negotiated rental prices downwards.
This trend however did not play out in Eastlands, where rent in Buruburu, Donholm, Nyayo estate, Komarock, Tena, Imara and Daima appreciated by up to nine per cent over the same period, as tenants who had been living in high end areas shifted to cheaper homes in Eastlands.
The selling price for houses in Brookside and Westlands declined by five per cent, which was the biggest dip experienced in Nairobi during 2011.
This was despite Westlands benefiting from reduced traffic congestion on the expansion of University Way and opening of the Northern Bypass.
With average house prices in the inner Westlands areas running up to Sh20 million, compared with Sh5 million in Eastlands, the appeal of more space in self-standing houses and villas in Eastlands began driving anew rush into the area.
Eastlands now has an efficient railway commuter system running from Nairobi Railway station to Embakasi Village that has cut down travel time for residents by up to 75 per cent, while easing road pressure.
"It used to take me one and a half to two hours to get into town, but since the introduction of the railway system it now take me as little as 15 minutes to get to work," Meg Otieno, a Donholm resident explained.
This month the government is completing the Sh8.5 billion Eastern Bypass, which starts on the Ruiru-Kiambu road crossing to Ruai, then to Kangundo Road before proceeding to Mombasa Road via Embakasi, in a move that will further reduce travel time for motorists by up to 70 percent.
A 25 kilometre special road dedicated to buses plying the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport- Nairobi Central Business District route is being developed in the Nairobi Metropolitan Region Rapid Bus Transit system within the next four years.
"The improved transport system and ongoing works have positioned Eastlands as a commercial and residential powerhouse and has also created a demand for quality housing," Sakina Hassanali of Hass Consult said.
Private developers and various corporates are also taking advantage of Eastlands' commercial growth, with the development of two malls adding to the areas eight bank branches, five supermarkets and two malls.