Gerald Taylor takes only 18 minutes to drive from Willmary Estate along Thika Road to Sarit Centre in Westlands. The modern real estate development nestles an inch or so from the new Thika Superhighway (near East African Breweries), and is within the proximity of the Eastern and Northern bypasses. Accessibility is one of the key appeals of Willmary Estate. Discerning home owners have snapped up the first and second phases of these grand fivebedroomed houses.

Construction of the third phase is ongoing. As we await our turn to speak to Mr Taylor, the intreprenuer behind this impressive project, a red BMW hums into the compound; there is a sense of order, comfort, security. “We don’t just develop for the sake of profit,” says Mr Taylor. “A home is a serious investment, so our aim is to give the best in terms of quality and variety.” Willmary, by the way, is an acronym for ‘William and Mary’, Mr Taylor’s grandparents who bequeathed him the 11-acre piece of land on which the project stands. The project started in 2009. It features 65 units of five bedroomed houses. Each sits on an 1/8th parcel of land thats spacious enough to accomodate a garden, port for two cars and a servant’s quarter.

One factor that distinguishes Willmary from other real estate projects is that you can choose the exact specifications for your house, to suit your taste. Want your kitchen walls pink and floor green? Or bathroon torquise and bedroom flaming red? No problem. “However, we always advise our clients on the best colour combinations,” says Mr Taylor. Besides the finish, you’ve the option of choosing the room configurations, for instance, where you want the masterbedroom to face, open plan kitchen, and even the variant dimensions of the rooms. As standard, the kitchens come with granite table tables and are custom-fit from Hwan Sung, a South Korean brand. Standard too is a solar water heating system, and a separate unit for the kitchen sink. The kitchen heater, stresses Mr Taylor, is Siemens brand from German well suited to withstand high temperatures. All the houses have high ceilings and large windows, thus aiding entry of natural light and airiness.

Willmary recognises that a home is a important investment and therefore settles on nothing but the best.The streets are paved with cabro, and the houses ringed with a picket fence dressed in bougainvillea.Each house has ample space for a water tank, to serve as a reservoir. The development consists of 65 units, each going for KSh25 million ($305,000). The titles are freehold, meaning that once you buy a house, the only other charges you will ever incur are a monthly service charge of only KSh5,000 ($60). This goes into paying for the street lighting, security and garbage collection. Home owners at Willmary are automatic shareholders of the estate management company that provides the amenities. Mr Taylor, a former operations manager at Auto Prestige says he has always been “mechanically minded” since he was a kid, thus the inspiration to venture into real estate development. Initially, there were only four rental houses on the parcel of land, which, Mr taylor says, was neither sustainable nor making
economic sense. By changing his business model to target high networth individuals, Willmary has seen its two phases sell out. As we walk through the estate, it’s easy to notice Mr Taylor’s camaraderie with his workers, which extends to his clients. “You see, my clients are also my best advertisers and agents. Ensuring they are comfortable and happy with their houses is absolutely important for our business,” he says.

Payment options
The clients are either managers in blue chip companies or successfully self employed. Though Wilmary Development has a mortgage agreement with S&L, several buyers have bought houses as a mid-tolong term investment. Even though the real estate sector is heaving under the sigh of inflation and high interest rates charged by commercial banks on loans, Mr Taylor says his experience stresses the fact that high networth individuals are often cushioned against such market uncertainities. “Flactuating interest rates, for instance, affect the KSh4.5 million to KSh20 million bracket.” Though the price of land in prime location has shot up almost 500% in the last four years (an acre at Willmary in 2008 was KSh5million;
now its KSh50 million) Mr Taylor asserts that value must be assessed on the basis of access to services such as water, electricity and a sewerage
system.

Proximity
If you are looking for a piece of real estate investment, Willmary Development has these services and much more. It is in the proximity of the planned Actis-EABL destination mall….actually, it borders a fence. When this project breaks ground later this year, the value of the Willmary Estate houses will go through the roof (forgive the pun). A kilometre or so down the round at the Roysambu roundabout, is the Thika Road mall which will be open
sometime later this year. Expected to host some of the major banks, restaurants and convinience stores, it will complete the all-inclusive ‘city-within-a-city’ set up this fourth corner of Nairobi so badly needed.