GIGIRI, KAREN AND WESTLANDS TOP IN COMMERCIAL OFFICE SECTOR RETURNS WITHIN THE NAIROBI METROPOLITAN AREA (NMA)
Research Team  |  Apr 27, 2020  | 
Cytonn Investments
Research Team  |  Apr 27, 2020  |  Cytonn Investments
       


The Nairobi Metropolitan Area (NMA) commercial office market continues to be facilitated by the country’s economic climate with office tenants both large and small continuing to drive current demand levels. Demand for office spaces has been primarily driven by the growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and the entry of multinational corporations.

The commercial office sector recorded a decline in performance in 2019, with a 0.7% point y/y drop in average yields to 7.7% from 8.3% in 2018, attributed to a decline in uptake of office space attributed to a challenging financial environment, and an oversupply of 6.3 mn SQFT which has created a bargaining chip for potential tenants.

In terms of office space supply, 1.5 mn SQFT of office space was delivered to the Nairobi Metropolitan Area in 2019 with an average occupancy level of 80.5%. This resulted in a cumulative supply of 6.7 mn SQFT against a demand of 0.3 mn SQFT and thus an oversupply of 6.3 mn SQFT. The oversupply was 21.6% higher than in 2018 at 5.2 mn SQFT. Assuming current occupancy levels persist, we expect a 1.9% increase in oversupply to 6.5 mn SQFT in 2020

Gigiri, Karen and Westlands were the best performers in 2019 recording rental yields of 9.2%, 8.3%, and 8.3%, respectively, attributed to increased demand by businesses and multinational companies due to their proximity to the Central Business District (CBD) and other business nodes, relatively good infrastructure network, their superior locations and availability of quality Grade A offices, enabling them to charge a premium on rentals.

Thika Road and Mombasa Road were the worst performers recording rental yields of 6.3% and 5.5%, respectively, attributed to; (i) poor location as a result of traffic congestions, (ii) the Mombasa Road’s zoning for industrial use, and (iii) lower quality office space.

The table below shows the summary of performance:

Commercial Office Market Performance by Node 2019

Nodes

Price Kshs/

SQFT  2019

Rent Kshs/

SQFT  2019

Occupancy 2019(%)

Rental Yield (%) 2019

Gigiri

13,833

117

80.4%

9.2%

Karen

13,665

111

85.3%

8.3%

Westlands

12,370

104

80.3%

8.3%

Parklands

12,369

97

83.1%

8.2%

UpperHill

12,397

98

80.0%

7.5%

Kilimani

12,680

91

80.9%

7.1%

Nairobi CBD

12,425

89

85.6%

7.1%

Thika Road

12,600

84

80.4%

6.3%

Msa Road

11,400

73

66.5%

5.5%

Grand Total

12,638

97

80.3%

7.5%

Source: Cytonn Research 2019

Grade B office spaces recorded the highest rental yields at 7.9% compared to Grade A and Grade C rental yields of 7.4% and 7.2%, respectively. Grade B offices were the most common in the market with a market share of 52.1%.

The investment opportunity within the Nairobi Metropolitan Area is in areas with low supply and high returns such as Gigiri and in differentiated concepts such as mixed-use developments (MUDs) and serviced offices recording rental yields of up to 7.9% and 12.3%, respectively.

The outlook for the Commercial Office sector is NEGATIVE given the current office space oversupply and expected stagnation in performance in 2020 given the current Coronavirus pandemic. With the Coronavirus, many corporates have also now tested working from home, and as such, it is unlikely that occupancy levels will recover to the levels they used to be at previously, at least in the medium-term. However, we expect a slowdown in construction activities allowing the existing demand to absorb the current supply.

The full report is also available online: (Link here)


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