Kenyans go for cheaper second-hand houses

Kenyans seeking to own homes are turning to second-hand houses as the prices of new units continue to rise. Used houses have become an easy route to home ownership, especially for first-time buyers who do not have the financial muscle to buy new properties that go for as high as $117,418 for three-bedroom units. The second-hand houses are being sold in middle-income estates in Nairobi where the gated community concept was pioneered. The estates include Buru Buru, Komarock, South B and C, Embakasi, Madaraka and Langata. Those wheo are selling the houses are first time owners to new residential areas. Some of them have stayed in the estates for over a decade.

The cost of residential properties in Kenya has been on the rise, locking out many people who harbor dreams of owning houses. In Nairobi, the prices of houses have doubled in the past few years in spite of competition as more investors join the sector. A three-bedroom stand-alone houses in middle-income estates is being sold for between Ksh. 9 million and Ksh. 15 million. On the other hand, a two-bedroom maisonette is going for an average of Ksh. 7.5 million. The cost of apartments is equally high, pushing many would-be buyers out.

Developers are selling two bedroom apartments in middle-income residential areas for as high as Sh. 8 million. However, on average, the houses are going for Ksh. 5.5 million “Property values in Kenya have increased by 3.37 times since 2000. The average value of a property has gone from Ksh. 7.1 million in December 2000 to Ksh. 24.2 million in December 2013,” said HassConsult, a real estate firm, in a property  report released last month. The average value for a four-to-six-bedroom property is currently Ksh. 33.8 million while that for a one to two-bedroom one is currently Sh. 11.4 million in some middle and high income residential areas, adds the report.

The difficulty in home ownership is exaceberated in the fact that mortgage rates in Kenya are beyond the reach of many. With mortgage interest rates of between 17 and 25 per cent a year, many Kenyans can only dream of being home owners. “Typical first-time buyers of apartments and low-end town houses are continuing to find mortgages unaffordable, creating a demand bulge in rentals, “ Sakina Hassanali, head of research and marketing at HassConsult, noted while releasing the property report.

Second-hand houses, therefore are a blessing to many first-time buyers in Kenya seeking to actualize their dream of owning a house. Most of the used stand-alone houses in middle income residential areas are being sold for about Ksh. 2.5 million for one-bedroom, Ksh. 5 millon for two-bedroom, Sh 6 million for three-bedroom, and Ksh. 7 million for four –bedroom units.

The prices are way below those of new maisonettes and bungalows in the capital. The cost of second-hand apartments drops even further, with two-bedroom units going for an average of  Ksh. 3 million. Bernard Mukabo is among city residents who have achieved their dream of owning a houses by second-hand property. The university worker bought a used three-bedroom house four months ago at $66,279 in Komarock estate. The accountant is now living in the houses with his family of four. “It is the best thing to have happened to me. At last, I have achieved my dream of owning a house. It looked distant but finally it has come to pass,” said an excited Mukabo.

He said he decided to buy a second-hand house after realizing that the prices of new units were beyond his reach.

“I wanted to buy a three bedroom stand-alone house but the cost was unaffordable. I could not raise the  Ksh. 8.6 million developers were demanding for a new houses. I did not want to go the mortgage route,” he said.



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