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Developer expands Athi River green Park estate

REAL Estate developer Superior Homes Limited has began construction of phase five of its multi-billion Athi River Green Park Estate.This is after it sold out the first four phases of theSh8 billion housing project comprising bungalows, villas and semi-detached houses.The move comes as high land prices in Nairobi continue to drive housing developments outside the capital, as developers seek to meet rising demand at a more affordable price.

According to Superior Homes Kenya managing director Ian Henderson, 24 houses under phase five which will have 148 units have  already been booked despite a slowdown in the country’s real estate market.Nairobi residents account for the largest share of bookings and sales at 80 per cent. Athi River Green Park estate project was started in2005 with the first houses being completed and sold in 2008.

The project’s success, the developer said, has been driven by Nairobi’s upper-middle class who are heavily investing in homes outside the city that are cheaper compared to houses sold in the city.

Construction of phase five which started last month is expected to be completed in 2017.“Inquiries are steady but overall real estate market in Nairobi at the moment has slowed down since last year. We have inquiries mainly from Nairobi, a number of sales from diaspora, Kenyans working for the United Nations and other African countries,” said Henderson, during a tour of the site last weekend.

House prices have doubled since the company’s entry into the market.Currently, a four-bedroom bungalow is going for Sh18.4 million up from Sh3.9 million in 2007.A super bungalow (more spacious than the normal bungalow) is priced at a minimum Sh22.6 million up from Sh13 million in 2010.A four-bedroom Villa is quoted at Sh34.9 million while a semi-detached house is going for Sh13.6 million up from Sh6.9 million in 2008.

Henderson attributed the price increase to increased demand and high cost of construction, but maintained that the cost of the company’s houses are still competitive compared to those in Nairobi.“The prices, quality of the product, construction and finishing is well above average. We also offer bigger plot sizes than anyone is offering .We are also located outside the city hence not suffering from urban decay,” said Henderson.

Athi River Green Park’s phase one has 184 units, phase two has 62, phase three 150 while phase four has 380 houses.Henderson noted that the country’s real estate industry has gone through a major transformation.“We are seeing more professionalism, better designs and finishes. Competitiveness in the sector is also making the market good for the buyers who have more choices to make,” he said.

The country however continues to witness a slow uptake of mortgage loans mainly due to high rates.Kenya’s unexploited mortgage market is estimated at over Sh1 billion despite its vibrant real estate sector.The Central Bank of Kenya has in the past linked low mortgage uptake to low incomes, high interest rates and soaring property prices that are discouraging people from borrowing.The country’s mortgage rates average at 17 per cent, with some financial institutions reported to have rates as high as 22 per cent.