By John M. Mutua
Notwithstanding the lack of rigorous data on the demographics of foreign property buyers in Africa and Kenya, anecdotal evidence suggests that Chinese expatriates (involved in lucrative public infrastructure and extractive sector projects in Kenya and across Africa) are increasingly buying distinctive residential properties in Kenya’s prime neighbourhoods. Popular suburbs include, inter alia; Kilimani, Valley Archade, Lavington, Karen, Runda, Muthaiga, Kitisuru, Westlands, Kileleshwa, Nyali, Diani and Kikambala.
A combination of lifestyle and investment considerations as well as internal and external factors could provide a parsimonious explanation for the increased uptake of luxury residential properties in Kenya by discerning Chinese buyers. These include, inter alia; tumultuous Chinese financial and real markets, extravagant Beijing and Shanghai residential property prices which compare pale to the “modestly-priced” homes in Kenya’s exclusive neighborhoods and internationalization of the Renminbi (RNB)/ liberalization of cash flows from China to overseas markets. Kenya’s favorable political and socio-economic environment (vis-à-vis other African countries), relative ease of property acquisition in Kenya by foreign buyers and gratifying returns from property investments made in Kenya – the overriding raison d’être for the increased uptake of distinctive residential properties in Kenya by discerning Chinese buyers.
To catalyze the growing demand for exceptional residential properties in Kenya by Chinese buyers, boutique as well as established real estate agencies in Kenya (servicing the lucrative residential real estate market) must develop unparalleled marketing competencies and closing skills which leverage an in-depth understanding of the rich Chinese cultural heritage. Development of Mandarin proficiencies as well as acquaintance with cross-cutting Chinese philosophies which influence buyer decisions (such as feng shui and collectivism) should be a great start.
Of course, this is not to overlook the imperative of impeccable architectural photography in selling luxury residential real estate, remarkable Chinese investments in affordable housing and commercial real estate in Kenya, and traditional buyer dynamics in Kenya’s luxury residential real estate market (Kenyan, African and European buyers).