Design & Interiors

How the ultra wealthy choose new homes

The super-rich want homes with large-scale
The super-rich want homes with large-scale landscaped areas and green spaces for recreation and leisure and the design should contribute to their physical and mental well-being. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

What are wealthy house buyers or renters looking for? According to Knight Frank’s latest Wealth Report, the beauty of the landscape, which means more flowers, more butterflies and more insects, is increasingly becoming important when choosing a new home.

The super-rich want homes with large-scale landscaped areas and green spaces for recreation and leisure and the design should contribute to their physical and mental well-being.

Wilson Manyuira, a property adviser at Nairobi real-estate firm, Optiven says many home buyers are searching for a countryside appeal, but in the city. They want neighbourhoods where they can slow down and find rest, not restlessness.

“They want serenity and a jungle-like ambience. A place they can relax. That’s why people want to live as far away from the city as they can,” he says.

Young buyers and renters are also prioritising health and well-being more than ever before, the Wealth Report notes, and it is no longer the preserve of burnt out executives in their 40s and 50s.


Apart from homes with living walls, proximity to waterfronts, forests and mountains, meditation spaces, basically havens of retreat, more wealthy people prefer buying duplexes.

Investors favour duplex apartments because they have their own entrance and quarters, as well as small courtyards.

There are also increasingly attracted to one and two bedroom apartments as opposed to those with three or more bedrooms, particularly due to pricing and return on investment.

Peter Karuga, a business development manager and also a realtor at Nairobi-based Vaal Real Estate, says duplexes are more affordable, they offer good returns on investment and they are favoured by middle-class renters because they have provision for open spaces such as patios, gardens, and yards.

Duplexes, he says, also have a higher resale value along with a faster appreciation rate.

“There is also the concept of investing in houses which are perfect for Airbnb; which is attracting investors in droves. Many people buy them, furnish them and let them through Airbnb for night stays,” says Peter.

The location of the property still plays a significant role in influencing the buyer. He cites the environs of the house, proximity to amenities such as shopping malls, schools, and health centres among others.

According to the Wealth Report, about 37 percent of the super-rich buy homes near quality medical facilities and 49 per cent invest in neighbourhoods with wellness facilities.

“Prospective home buyers want a location that affords them and their families an easy access to the places they mostly frequent such as places of work, schools, and places of worship, as well as easy access to main roads, shopping and recreation facilities, and to some extent if there are friends and family living in the vicinity,” Peter says, adding that additional attributes include installed backup generators, a borehole, a parking space, a residents’ gym and swimming pool.

For middle-income buyers, real estate experts say the price plays a role.

“An average Kenyan homebuyer will most likely focus on the price of the house than its size. For instance, one would rather buy a two bedroom house for Sh5 million, than go for a bigger house going for Sh10 million or more in the same neighbourhood,” says Peter.

Peter Nyaga, the CEO of Mahiga Homes on the other hand indicates that there are typically two types of home buyers—those who buy to stay in and those who buy then refurbish and sell or lease; either the normal way or putting it up in Airbnb.

But this notwithstanding, buyers look for specific factors before investing in the house.

“Just about everyone first looks at the price of the home. No one will buy a house that they definitely cannot afford,” says Nyaga.

He adds that buyers also look for ease in accessibility of the home.

“Nowadays, people have little hesitations about getting homes in satellite towns such as Ruaka, Ruiru, Ngong, Ongata Rongai, and Kitengela, as long as there are good roads and there is good flow of traffic,” he adds.

He also notes that there are buyers who are particularly keen on nascent trends in property development.

These include flat-roofed house designs, mahogany floors, log homes, and accessibility to fast home Internet.

Daniel Mburu, the CEO of Nairobi real-estate and property development company, Fingerprint Capital, says with the mounting costs especially the price of timber for trusses and ceiling, many homebuyers are opting for the flat-roofed house models.

“The basic layout plan of the house, the sizes of the rooms, the type of finishes as well as the workmanship are also factors that home buyers look at,” he says.

Daniel also notes that the advent of trends like studio flats as well as bed and breakfast apartments –also sway what buyers look for.

Other factors that homebuyers look at include additional bathrooms, the kitchen layout, age of the house, the owner’s incentive to sell, and the condition of the fittings since some are expensive to replace.