BrandArena: How Kenya compares to other emerging markets for foreign property ownership

Saturday 10 October 2015

How Kenya compares to other emerging markets for foreign property ownership

Foreigners looking to buy property in Kenya will face some restrictions. Non-nationals can only acquire land on a leasehold basis, with leases granted for a maximum period of 99 years.

However, in countries like Colombia and Pakistan, foreigners have an easier time buying real estate than they would in Kenya and many of its neighbours. There are different, specific reasons for this ease, which vary from nation to nation.

So how does Kenya compare to other nations when it comes to foreign property ownership? Leading property portal Lamudi Kenya has compiled the following list to make it easy to invest in the emerging markets.

Although the Philippines and Myanmar are both great locations to invest in real estate, they have several restrictions for foreigners. These are justified as they are intended to give greater opportunities for locals to own property.

The Philippines requires foreign investors to be part of a Filipino corporation in order to buy real estate, or in the case of condominiums, foreign investment is capped at 40 percent.

Myanmar only allows foreigners to buy condominiums above the sixth floor. Similarly to the Philippines, there is a 40 percent cap on foreign investment in property developments.

In addition to Colombia and Pakistan, other countries that do not place a large number of restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate are Mexico, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In these countries, foreign investment has driven the real estate market, which is beneficial to locals.


Like many nations in Africa with booming real estate sectors, including neighbouring Uganda, foreigners cannot own property outright. Instead, international buyers can acquire property in the country on a 99-year lease. It is believed this law was enacted to prevent foreigners from holding land on a freehold basis in perpetuity, something which was common under colonial rule.


Colombia is not only a beautiful country, but also an attractive one in terms of foreign investment in real estate. Foreigners are allowed to purchase all types of property and are afforded the same rights as a Colombian citizen while doing so. Major cities like Bogotá and Medellín are great locations in which to invest because of their friendly and open attitude toward foreigners.


As in Colombia, foreigners buying real estate in Mexico are protected under the same property laws as citizens. Additionally, investors do not need to be residents of the country in order to purchase property. The only real restriction for foreigners buying real estate in Mexico is location. Foreigners are usually not allowed to buy property in the “Restricted Zone,” i.e., the areas along national borders, though there are some exceptions.


In addition to the beautiful climate of Mauritius, it is an incredibly alluring place to invest. The government has recently eliminated restrictions on foreigners buying real estate. It is a popular location for beach properties, vacation rentals and second homes. Like Colombia and Mexico, it is a safe and stable country where reputable foreign investors in real estate are protected by the same laws as citizens.


The real estate market of Pakistan is one of the hottest in the emerging markets. The real estate of its larger cities, like Lahore and Karachi, are very attractive to foreign buyers, not only for its value, but also for the quality of life and modern amenities it affords. Aside from a bit of paperwork, there are little to no restrictions on foreigners buying or renting property in Pakistan. Recently, the government has been interested in boosting the market by courting international investment.

United Arab Emirates

Known for its stunning, world-class architecture, namely its skyscrapers, the United Arab Emirates offers foreigners freehold ownership of real estate in designated “Investment Areas.” These areas are chosen by the individual Emirates, not by the federal government. Within them, buying property is very easy for foreigners. Investment Areas can be established at any time by the respective governments of the seven constituent Emirates of the UAE.

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