A mixed use development in Kiambu County

Kiambu County had the highest appreciation in land values over the past five years, from 2012 to 2017. Average land prices in the Central Kenya County now rank third in the country, only second to Nairobi and Mombasa Counties.

According to the 2018 land price index by Hass Consult, average land prices in Kiambu County grew by 98.73 per cent over the last five years with the sharpest growth in 2016 when prices increased by 26.5 per cent. However, 2017 recorded a more moderate growth of 7.3 per cent.

In the past, innovation and commerce in the county have been driven majorly by agriculture with most residents farming tea and coffee. However, recent interest in real estate has seen many coffee farms converted into concrete farms as many urban centres in the county turned into satellite towns servicing Nairobi’s growing population. This has resulted in intensive development activities in the county.

Land prices per acre in the county at the end of 2017 was KES 32.3 million, up from KES 16.2 million at the end of 2012. The steady growth of land in the county was driven by the sustained demand for cheaper land in close proximity to the city, which is just 16 kilometres away. Land prices in the city are very high, driving investors to seek for alternatives with relative access and free form other issues affecting the city such as traffic.

Property hot spots in the county such as Ruaka, Kiambu town and Kahawa Sukari have had the most increases in land prices as this areas continue to grow towards Nairobi. Ruaka recorded the highest land prices in the county with the average cost of an acre going from KES 43.9 million in 2012 to KES to around KES 83.1 million by the end 2017 even though land prices grew by just 6.8 per cent in 2017.

A good portion of growth in prices in the satellite town has been attributed to the construction of the Nothern Bypass road beginning 2012, which has seen the town develop into a large urban conurbation. The recent changes in accessibility have attracted a wave of high density developments.

Ndenderu town had the highest price growth across 2017, registering an increase of 14.45 per cent. The town has recently gained traction due to improved security and the need for alternatives.

Other key performers included Kahawa Sukari and Tigani, which registered rapid growth for the year at 11.5 per cent and 11.32 per cent respectively. Land prices in Tigoni were further helped by the recent upgrade of Ruaka-Banana-Limuru road.

Most towns in the county had cumulative land price increases of more than 100 per cent over the five-year period with Kiambu Town recording an increase of 132.99 per cent while Kikuyu registered 130.85 per cent.

Due to rapid growth in urban development, Kiambu County government in June 2017 announced its intention to regulate land use for the benefit of food security in the county. This was after it emerged that the quantity of agricultural land in the county had shrunk from 64.2 per cent in 2012 to just 35.2 per cent in 2014. Over the same timeline, built up land had grown in proportion from 15.5 per cent to 43.1 per cent in 2014.

The proposed regulations sent negative sentiment in some land markets in the county with prices falling by 3.5 per cent in Ruiru, 5 per cent in Juja and 5.7 per cent in Limuru. Land in for real estate commands a higher price than agricultural purpose land in the region hence the conflict in land use objectives.