The Star (Nairobi)

7 November 2012

Kenya: Nairobi's Luxury Homes in the Top Five Globally

Nairobi has cemented its position among the top five cities in the world considered investment hubs for high net worth individuals.

Kenya's capital joins Jakarta, Dubai, Miami and London as the only cities that recorded double-digit price growth in the year to September, global property services firm Knight Frank says in newly released report on luxury residential market.

This means Nairobi has throughout 2011 and the nine months of 2012 retained the tag of a 'safe haven'. Prices for the city's prime residential properties rose by 17.6 per cent in the 12-month period, but by a paltry 2.3 per cent from July to end of September.

This ranked Nairobi fourth globally on yearly ranking after Jarkarta's 28.5 per cent, Dubai's 19.9 per cent and Miami's 18 per cent. London was the only other city among 26 cities tracked by the Prime Global Cities Index.

Luxury residential properties in Cape Town's market, the only other making the list among Africa cities, rose by a mere 1.2 per cent in the 12-month period.

Ben Woodhams, Knight Frank Kenya managing director, says prime residential properties in Kenya are priced roughly in the upward of $1 million (Sh85.45 million). "The prime market is a very difficult one to define," he said in a past interview.

His firm is currently selling a property on behalf of a client for Sh185 million - a seven-bedroom house sitting on three acres of land in upmarket Karen.

But a recent survey by Star Property revealed that luxury homes have in the past changed hands among the high net worth individuals for as much as Sh600 million.

Though common to find properties in the range of up to Sh250 million advertised on websites and specialised magazines, such luxury houses prove quite sensitive to announce publicly hence rely on referrals and word-of-mouth. Apparently they are sold "off the books".

"Such a transaction is huge; neither the buyer nor the seller would want to publicise it. They don't need the attention," a top real estate agent who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of business he handles told Star Property.

One such properties is currently on sale in Upper Hill at an asking price of Sh450 million. The monthly rental for the house is pegged at a mind-boggling $25,000 (Sh2.13 million).

The selling agent says there is a waiting list already for letting. The house, a massive 22,000 square feet of space, sits on 1.5 acres near Fairview Hotel.

It was built in 1929 using Victorian architecture but later refurbished with Georgian finishes in the 1950s, the agent says. It was recently retouched with contemporary European finishes, but still intact on the outside.

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