The construction boom at Riat Hills in Kisumu, Kenya, is transforming the property market in the lakeside city.
Residential property developers are rapidly changing the face of the little known Riat Hills into a palatial estate. Situated along the Kisumu-Kakamega Road, Riat Hills has acquired the much needed facelift; with modern maisonettes and bungalows dotting the hilltop.
The ambience of the estate and the aerial view it gives of the lakeside city, and of Lake Victoria, explain why investors are rushing to acquire property in the area. An afternoon walk around the estate shows dozens of modern architectural designs of maisonettes and bungalows – in expansive compounds – standing behind well trimmed edges that are the main attractions on the hill.
Riat Hills, reminiscent of Kitsuru and Karen in Nairobi, now joins the league of other Kisumu upper class estates such as Milimani, Tom Mboya, Mountain View and Kenya Re. Consequently, as more people opt to settle at the hill, demand for property in Milimani and Tom Mboya estates has reduced. This has tremendously changed the market price for Riat Hills property.
According to real estate agents, an acre of land at Riat Hills in 1992 fetched less than Sh200,000. Today the same is selling at Sh2 million or even Sh2.5 million. Ounga Commercial Agencies Director, Mr. Eric Ounga, was recently quoted by The Standard newspaper saying that the value of property at Riat Hills would appreciate further if the infrastructure was improved.
“The potential of Riat Hills as a residential and commercial estate is enormous, but the Council needs to do more to encourage investors,” said Mr. Ounga.
Most developers atop Riat Hills attribute the estate’s rapid development to lower construction costs as a result of the availability of rocks. This means they spend less money digging foundations because there are rocks. On the other hand, homeowners say they are attracted by the ambience of the area as well as the aerial view of Kisumu.
“It is cool up here compared to the high temperatures around the city centre,” says Janice Atieno who owns a bungalow in the estate.
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