BY VICTOR ADAR
You cannot help being drawn to Elina Residences. The developer, Purple Dot International Ltd has launched the residential project that is expected to deliver quality houses for upper mid-income homebuyers around Nairobi and its peripheries.
Its soon-to-be completed project, located along Mandera Road in Kileleshwa, comprises of 66 all en-suite three-bedroom apartments and four duplex pent houses.
The company’s general manager Jiten Kerai says most of the apartments were bought off plan, with customers buying the units before construction began in earnest in 2019 based on finishes delivered in their previous residential projects. The off-plan purchase price for the 2,300 square feet apartments was around Sh19m with the current market price rising to Sh23m as they near completion around mid-2021.
“As construction to upper levels progresses the price will go up proportionally to approximately Sh25 million by Q1 2021,” he says. “The penthouse price at the moment is Sh48m but once we reach that level and it’s ready it may go up to Sh55m. The duplex penthouse at 4,200 square feet is double the size of the three-bedroom units, and the space of the living room and the lounge, are quite spacious.”
While people abreast with the property sector say that open market buyers shun the off-plan model and would always buy into a project that has gone up to 60%, or 70% of completion, Purple Dot International seems to be thriving despite the opinions.
So far, some of the projects that the developer has completed include Daisy, Asopalav townhouses in Langata near the Carnivore, with upcoming Marigold Residency which boasts of 42 units, Serene Park Villas in Machakos, as well as more than 300 light industrial warehouses in Athi River, a strong indication that the off-plan model is sustainable with “trusted” developers.
“We wanted a product that is unique, meets the buyer’s need for value in its own way while looking at the social dynamics of the family dwelling in the units. The spaces are sculpted; meaning there is thought and creativity put into planning the living areas. It is not just ‘mawe’,” says Jaspal Singh, the managing director of Sketch Studio and the architect of Elina Residences project.
To Mr Singh, the building was elevated through columns to reduce the amount of excavation. Further, ground units (first floor) accurately sit on the ground and will have grass and plants. Whether you are walking in the compound or standing at the main gate you will not really think there is underground parking. At the same time, there are areas where kids can play; they don’t have to play in parking lots. The units are also wheelchair user-friendly thanks to ramps that allow the differently abled persons to manoeuvre without any difficulty. The architect has accommodated four lifts in the six residential blocks, with underground basement parking to give a seamless structural look.
On the overall, Singh says, “I think the whole unit is pretty well thought out in its layout, functionality, ventilation, natural light and practicality of spaces. Buyers want something unique and worth the value, which is what we are trying to balance here.”
“The show house is really testament to what we intend to deliver. We want buyers to come and see the product physically. Brochures don’t generally reflect the reality of the project so we want customers to come and experience what value, finishes they are going to get. Do you really think this is a common development?” Singh quips, adding that the target market is mid to lower high income.
It seems that Covid-19, in the short term, has pushed up demand of houses. Besides the coronavirus pandemic, and an intricately tough economy, a majority of buyers are merely surviving with private employers receiving a major blow. The current pandemic might also have an impact on designs. There is already a move by individuals who still have the buying power considering spaces they can live in and out – it could be an apartment building, or town house development with a garden. What it means is that the units that do not have balconies or external spaces may have a downturn, according to experts.
In May market update by HassConsult, property market remained stable despite the coronavirus effects on economies. The report indicated that house prices slightly edged up by 0.9% over the quarter thanks to a slight performance from detached and semi-detached market, which recorded a 1.3% and 0.9% growth respectively. Apartments recorded a big growth over the quarter with asking rents at 2.1% as compared to the overall property rents drop of 0.7%. But interesting to note is that prices are unlikely not to change during this tough period.
The effects of the pandemic might only be felt from the second quarter, a philosophy that is backed by a real estate marketplace, Zillow. The company conducted a study on housing during previous pandemics and shoed that although home sales have always dropped during pandemics prices remained the same, or experienced a slight decline.
As depressed house prices continue to be the order of the day, a majority of developers are getting creative to attract customers. It has become a rarity, to see developers looking after their stakeholders.
Incidentally, Elina’s developers are not discriminative. The buyer-centric company is trying to come up with ways to make things happen. If credit accessibility is a challenge, for example, the developer has partnered with some lenders, coupled with flexible payment plans, a move that is hoped to not only bridge the financing gap but also offer buyers some piece of mind. The firm is also inviting people who’ve already booked houses to “come and see” what they had been sold is reality.
“We do have partnerships with the banks,” says Jiten. “We have DTB, I&M on board though we are open to working with our customers’ choice of bank. They will follow their own process then we will assist them with financing.”