Expat exodus creating headache for Kenya’s upscale housing estates

Nairobi skyline
Nairobi Skyline ©Jorge Lascar

It has been reported that last year’s changes to work permit requirements in Kenya have resulted in an expat professional exodus from previously popular areas which has had a detrimental affect on the upscale real estate market.

The changes made last year were intended to prevent the practice of entering as tourists and using proxies to gain the essential permits with work permits only available through Kenyan embassies in applicants’ home countries.

Many vacant homes in areas such as Karen, Spring Valley, Nyari, Runda and Muthaiga are now up for sale with prices around four per cent lower and expected to reduce further.

International pressures on various overseas governments, resulting in tighter budgets and reduced foreign spending as well as affecting international aid-funded operations have exasperated the situation as many of these homes in Kenya’s exclusive enclaves were occupied by expat residents active in aid-related operations.

The downturn has resulted in local developers  adjusting their projects and converting large detached mansions into multi-occupation residences.

Experts in the sector have said that Kenya needs to adjust to its maturing property market by providing homes in response to demand rather than exclusive enclaves for a rapidly shrinking sector of the market. This downward trend in luxury homes is expected to continue for the foreseeable future unless international residents can be attracted back to the country.

Nairobi has functioned as a major pillar in Africa’s economic growth for a number of years and has managed to attract high numbers of expat professionals working in global organisations and diplomatic missions.

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