Tax incentives to boost low-income housing sector as law takes effect (Kenya)

By James Anyanzwa | Business Daily, Kenya December 29, 2016

Tax incentives for developers of at least 400 low-cost residential units that come into operation this weekend could make the low-income housing segment the next big investment frontier in the real-estate sector.

The Finance Act 2016 was signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta in September handing developers of low-cost homes a corporate tax rate of 15 per cent, down from the normal 30 per cent.

“Tax has been a big expense hence increasing the costs incurred by developers, which in turn discourage developers from developing low cost housing,” said Cytonn Investments Management Ltd.

During the Budget in June, Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich had indicated that developers who built at least 1,000 low cost units would be eligible for a tax break and would pay corporate tax at a rate of 20 per cent.

But later the government lowered the number of units to 400 after developers argued that 1,000 units target was too high.

According to Cytonn Investments, home exhibitions held this year indicate most of the participants have been targeting the lower middle and low-income housing markets.

This is mainly attributed to the enhanced tax incentives and poor performance of the high-end market.

“There is a stagnation in prices in some high-end property due to too much supply that had hit this segment of the market,” the firm said.

“The lower-income housing segment is thus the next investment frontier for the real estate sector as developers embrace it and the market gets enlightened on the available products in the market through increased advertisements and events like expos.”

The investment company expects healthy competition among market players as they get to see new innovations and trends such as use of alternative building materials such as prefabs.

Prefabs are specialist dwelling types of prefabricated building manufactured off-site in advance, usually in standard sections that can be easily shipped and assembled.

The Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) Housing Price Index for the three-month period ending September, showed that middle income apartments still have the largest share of market transactions at 58.6 per cent, while maisonettes and bungalows account for 24.3 per cent and 17.1 per cent of total sales respectively.

They also had the largest number of transactions in lower and middle income markets.

“Apartments in middle income areas such as Kiambu Road, Waiyaki Way, Lang’ata and Ngong Road recorded a 3.4 per cent price change during the quarter compared to high-end areas at 1.8 per cent,” said the KBA.

“This can be attributed to their affordability and therefore they are preferred by the low and middle income earners.

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