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Kenya real estate upbeat

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 25- The year 2010 has started on a bright note for Kenya’s real estate compared to 2009, says Hass Consult.

Farhana Hassanali said the easing of the global financial crisis that had taken its toll on the housing industry has restored buyers and consumers’ faith in real estate.

Speaking to Capital News, Ms Hassanali also said there was a lot of foreign interest in Kenya’s real estate industry however adding that land prices remain tight.

“Prices are a little bit constrained at the moment because you see land values are very high and so are construction costs. So you will find that generally it is difficult for house prices to drop significantly. But in some segments of the market, you will always have places where prices are a little bit high and those prices are also starting to level off slightly. But in the low and middle income areas prices will continue to rise,” she said.

Ms Hassanali who noted that Nairobi was congested and that a significant number of Nairobi residents were moving out also added that the government needed to decentralise the availability of public services from Nairobi to other towns.

“People are actually happy to move away from the main areas of Nairobi. But at the same time there is a lot of strain on infrastructure, water, power and sewer services. So for them to move out of Nairobi, those areas that we want them to move to must have some level of services; they must have enough water and power to sustain,” she said.

Ms Hassanali added that this year’s Housing Expo, which is also the 8th annual event for the Property and Home Living Expo, was aimed at promoting responsible development and construction so as to curb the recent instances of buildings collapsing.

“Where you build within the building rations you are allowed, you don’t go against any planning policy and you look at bringing up a ‘green’ building by conserving power and water. I think brining up buildings that are environmentally friendly will help increase the value of developments across the board,” she said.

She further emphasised the need for Kenyan developers to exercise responsible construction saying that a majority had for long ignored laid down construction procedures and that accountability had been held with low regard.

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“For many years developers have operated without any sort of significant regulations so there has been a lot of bending the rules. If you look at over developed areas, you find there is a very negative impact on the environment. If you are putting up a development that has a positive impact on the environment then you will be putting back into the environment what you took out,” said Ms Hassanali.

Housing minister Soita Shitanda meanwhile pointed out that many buildings in Kenya were shoddily constructed which had in turn led to the unwarranted loss of lives. He added that his ministry was in the process of reviewing the nation’s Building Code.

“A house that falls down is not a passage to a new and better life. It is a killer. Last year the Architect’s Association found that an astonishing 70 percent of buildings going up in Nairobi were not following the Building Codes and practices that are currently legislated. We expect that the responsibility of all developers to design and construct buildings in a professional manner,” he said.

He also encouraged Kenyans to bring up buildings that met all the required construction codes.

Hass Consult is the gold sponsor for this year’s annual Housing Expo which ends on Sunday at the Sarit Center in Westlands, Nairobi. Those interested in viewing the exhibitors’ wares have to pay an entrance fee of Sh200.

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