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An overwhelming 71% of African respondents in Knight Frank’s 2021 Global Buyer Survey, indicated that energy efficiency was very important to them compared to 42% globally. In addition, more respondents across Africa (29%) indicated that they would prefer a greener home and be willing to pay more for it compared to 27% globally. This indicates that the coronavirus pandemic has driven a shift in attitudes amongst African home buyers.

The Global Buyer Survey represents the views of over 900 Knight Frank clients across 49 global markets and the 9 African countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Key highlights from the Africa respondents

ESG to drive future developments

ESG – Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance is taking precedence over other considerations for African home buyers. Good air quality, proximity to green space and access to good healthcare were unsurprisingly ranked as the most important location features to home buyers.

“The just concluded November Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, has helped to cement the growing importance of sustainable led residential developments. This survey provides us with a timely glimpse on how investors and buyers are zeroing in on the sustainability agenda across Africa.  We expect these findings will send a strong signal to developers on what buyers want, as the race to sustainability intensifies,” said Knight Frank’s Tilda Mwai.

Remote working influencing choice of home

A home study office, access to broadband internet and more outdoor space topped the list of the most preferred property features, indicating the impact of remote working on home buying trends.

“With greater flexibility towards remote working likely to emerge as a lasting legacy of the pandemic, we are seeing first time buyers and homeowners gravitating towards top quality homes, with amenities such as access to green space and reliable high-speed digital connectivity topping considerations,” she added.

Right-sizing driving future buying intentions

Interestingly, rightsizing emerged as the key feature in future buying intentions with 22% of the respondents citing upgrading family’s primary residence as the main motivation towards buying a house, while 17% cited downsizing as the main motivation.

Furthermore, when asked about the type of property they would like to live in, in the future, 50% of respondents in the region said they would be more inclined to buy a rural or country estate; slightly higher than the rest of the world respondents (34%).

In addition, with strict lockdowns imposed in most markets, it is no surprise that employment, healthcare, and children’s education also emerged among the biggest motivating factors for African buyers.

Suburbs now in high demand

Some 34% of the respondents indicated that they are more likely to purchase a second home, in line with the global average at 33%. However, one of the standout differences was the apparent need for African homebuyers to live in the suburbs (57%). Globally this figure was lower at 33%.

“This is a fascinating insight into the impact of the pandemic on buyer preferences. The pandemic has supercharged demand for quality affordable homes in the suburbs as buyers look at the best of both worlds: space and greenery but easy access to services and amenities,” said Tarquin Gross, Head of Residential Agency at Knight Frank Kenya.

Related; Green buildings present USD 768 billion opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa