Young homebuyers and renters in Kenya today are rejecting traditional areas favoured by their parents and instead of turning towards emerging hotspots. Rather than buy big homes with big compounds a few kilometres from the city, they are renting homes in up-and-coming neighbourhoods.
Timothy Kinoti, a director at Nairobi-based real estate firm Realux Holdings says numerous rational millennials are keen on building or buying their first homes instead of renting. However they want specific trends in their homes; luxury, efficiency, and technology.
For millennials, technology is like what nectar is to bees.
This is why internet connectivity in homes is becoming a selling point. This generation spends most of their time online —they shop, chat, research, and work using home Wi-Fi.
Optimal cellphone network reception is also a key attraction for both young renters and buyers.
Those who work from offices prefer a home that is as close to their workplace but still retains the allure of a place away from their downtown workplace.
“You may find one renting a studio apartment at Sh50,000 per month, without any qualms if they find all they look for in that small apartment,” Timothy says.
Open housing plans and big kitchens are also a preference. For them, a kitchen is not just a place where cooking takes place, but also where they gather and interact during meal preparation.
Mark Anthony Okello, a property advisor, and sales manager at realty firm, AAD Real-estate says millennials have modernised the real estate industry, making it more competitive.
Initially, he says, property development was rudimentary and straightforward, just focusing on the basic amenities.
“Back then, we had huge bungalows with enough space for gardening or parking. Now, we have apartments with modern amenities like gyms, pools, intercom, backup generators, and lifts among many others. Even in rural settings, millennials have made these amenities the norm, and developers now compete to offer the best,” says Mark.
These improvements have not only made the property market competitive but come at extra costs.
“Years ago, neighbourhoods like Lang'ata South C, South B, Madaraka, and Nairobi West in Nairobi fitted their bill and this group crowded these middle-income estates. However, they now have moved to Kilimani, Kileleshwa, Lavington, and Westlands while those with more means living in Karen and Runda,” says Mark.
Timothy also concurs noting that South B and C are losing their appeal and Westlands, Ruaka, and areas on the left of Waiyaki Way are gaining more popularity.
Modern futuristic designs, proximity to social amenities, and up-to-the-minute high-end finishes are what they look for, according to Timothy, who also runs HouSwitch Haven, an online real-estate resource portal.
Some developers even adding sporting amenities as they aim to entice millennial buyers and renters.
"Financial institutions are also targeting the same group in terms of longer repayment periods because of the age factor since they still have more time to invest further," Mark adds.