A Nine-Bedroom Compound on Galu Beach
$1.5 MILLION (160 MILLION KENYAN SHILLINGS)
This nine-bedroom property sits on Galu Beach, just south of the Diani Beach resort area and 18 miles from Mombasa, on the South Coast of Kenya.
The 2.2-acre lot is off the main coastal road, through two gates. It includes a single-story, three-bedroom main house with a castle-like crenelated parapet, a contemporary two-bedroom beach bungalow and two additional dwellings. The main house and bungalow are separated by a large swimming pool and a garden looking out on the Indian Ocean.
A long driveway stretches past a new three-car carport and a separate three-bedroom staff quarters, and leads to the 4,844-square-foot main house, built in 2005. The double-door entry has carved Lamu-style frames with Swahili and Arabic influences, said Joe Hildemann, who bought the property three years ago with his wife, Kathrin, renovating the house and building the beach bungalow.
Inside, a set of carved Lamu doors opens to an open-air atrium, where there is a reflecting pool with water lilies and nesting weaver birds. To the right of the pool is an en suite bedroom and a family room; to the left is storage, an auxiliary kitchen, a powder room and an office.
Floors throughout the home are Galana stone, which resembles slate, and ceilings are 11 feet high, with stained whitewood beams in the living areas. The house is being sold furnished.
Beyond the atrium, an open galley kitchen with a white concrete counter anchors the great room. “You can cook and look out on the ocean,” Mr. Hildemann said.
The kitchen in the main house is one of five on the property. An oven is in the auxiliary kitchen, near the atrium, while a fully equipped staff kitchen with concrete counters and areas for dining and resting is in a covered outdoor courtyard. The bungalow also has a well-outfitted kitchen.
A water tower, which stores water pumped from a well, has a one-bedroom staff cottage attached.
On each side of the great room is an air-conditioned en suite bedroom with mosquito netting draping the beds and screened windows. Double doors open to a terrace with steps to the pool area. The three en suite bathrooms are similarly finished, with light turquoise stucco walls, concrete sinks, brass fixtures and walk-in showers.
Beyond the great room’s dining area, more Lamu doors open to a covered terrace with ceiling fans and a trio of archways overlooking the backyard. Stairs lead down to the pool and a garden landscaped with indigenous palm trees and regional flora.
At the shoreline, the bungalow’s two en suite bedrooms mirror those in the main house, separated by a full kitchen. A covered wood deck has a built-in splash pool.
“Life happens outside,” Mr. Hildemann said of the property.
The compound is within walking distance of resorts and restaurants, and a 10-minute drive from the center of Diani Beach, a resort area with high-end restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and shopping centers. Popular with kite surfers and windsurfers, the 10.5-mile beach has been named Africa’s leading beach destination by World Travel Awards every year since 2014. Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary and Shimba Hills National Reserve, home to the endangered sable antelope and a marine park, are an hour northwest.
The house is a 10-minute drive from Diani Airport, with hourlong flights to Nairobi, the country’s capital. Moi International Airport, in Mombasa, is 90 minutes away (a trip that includes a five-minute ride on the Likoni car ferry).
Single-family homes in coastal areas preferred by second-home buyers currently start at around $500,000 and can go as high as $5 million for a 10-bedroom villa with an attached guesthouse and a pool, said Anthony Havelock, the head of agency for Knight Frank Kenya, which has the listing for this property. (While properties are typically listed in Kenyan shillings, Mr. Havelock gave the prices in American dollars.)
But at the moment, the housing market in Kenya is “quite depressed,” Mr. Havelock said. Following a “huge growth period” that began around 2009, when land and house values rose by as much as 400 percent, he noted, “the bubble burst” in 2016.
A bitter national dispute over the results of the presidential election in 2017 added to “a bit of a perfect storm,” he said, with demand and property values dropping and an oversupply of inventory in the domestic and luxury markets: “International investment has been curbed by political uncertainty and terrorism incidents.”
Neil McRae, the director of Langata Link Real Estate, which specializes in coastal vacation homes, described that market as “rather stagnant.” When it comes to sales and short-term rentals, he said, “what we are seeing is that the second-home industry has taken a bit of a nose-dive.”
Because of the “tough” economy, he added, buyers “are being careful where they are spending their money” — especially on the coast and in areas around Mount Kenya, “where people in the past liked to have their holiday homes.”
Traditionally, second-home buyers have also favored Maasai Mara, an area close to the game reserve near the border of Tanzania. On the coast, popular places include Diani Beach, Malindi, Kilifi, Mombasa, Msambweni, Watamu (the most exclusive area) and areas on and around the golf courses in Vipingo, said Sansi Dietz, a property consultant at Pam Golding Properties Kenya.
But many homeowners trying to sell for the past couple of years haven’t had much luck, with prices down 30 to 50 percent in some areas. Mr. Havelock cited one seller in Kilifi who listed a house a few years ago for more than $3 million and eventually accepted an offer of less than $1.5 million. “It is very much a buyer’s market,” he said.
As for buyers, mortgage interest rates of 13 to 14 percent make it “difficult for people to invest in a property either as an end user or an investor,” Ms. Dietz said.
Plans to upgrade the infrastructure, with highways along the coast from Diani Beach 100 miles north to Malindi, as well as a new high-speed rail line from Nairobi, may improve the coastal market, Mr. McRae said.
Who Buys in Kenya
Foreign buyers on the coast north of the port city of Mombasa are predominantly Italian and British, Mr. McRae said. South of there, foreign buyers tend to be French, Swiss and German.
In Lamu, a historic Swahili town near the border of Somalia, ultra-high-end homes and properties are popular with people in the film industry and other wealthy buyers, he said.
Few Americans or Canadians buy homes on the Indian Ocean coast, but they may own real estate in Nairobi, about 350 miles northwest, for business purposes, Mr. McRae said: “Americans coming to Kenya to holiday go on safari. The Europeans are coming here for a coastal experience and less of the safari.”
Mr. Havelock said that some of his agency’s buyers come from South Africa, while others are from the Middle East, mainly the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Investors from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana tend to buy in Nairobi, said Nelly Mbugua, chairwoman of the Estate Agents Registration Board and managing director of Citiscape Valuers & Estate Agents.
International buyers are allowed to own property only on a 99-year leasehold tenure, Ms. Mbugua said.
Stamp duties are 4 percent for urban land in municipalities, and 2 percent for country properties. A lawyer must be retained to perform due diligence; fees run 1 to 2 percent of the sale price, plus “minimal registration fees for the title,” Ms. Mbugua said.
Most foreign buyers obtain mortgages in their countries of residence.
Languages and Currency
Swahili and English; Kenyan shilling (1 Kenyan shilling = $0.01)
Taxes and Fees
Rather than property taxes, the Kenyan government charges foreigners with 99-year leasehold titles “rent” — approximately $1,000 a year on this property.
Anthony Havelock, Knight Frank, 011-254-727-099364; knightfrank.com