Kisumu\u2019s Riat Hills area is experiencing a resurgence in development, with notable real estate growth in recent times. A transformation has been witnessed in the area over the years as more investors move in to reap from the growth taking shape on the town\u2019s outskirts, accelerated by scarcity of land on the peripheries of the lakeside city\u2019s central business district. The rocky hills once characterised by thick bushes on steep slopes is quickly turning into a leafy-suburb. Years back, only a handful of people inhabited the place, with houses scattered and miles apart. Real estate sector players in Kisumu who spoke to Boma view Riat as the next prime residential suburb after the posh Milimani estate. West Kenya real estate managing director Benard Onyango says Riat area is fast attracting growth due to the driving factors such as its strategic location on the hilltop, proximity to Kisumu International Airport and the ongoing infrastructural development. \u201cThe scenic view of the airport and the lake is attracting more people up the hill. The area is viewed as a strategic place for growth because of the attractions it has over other estates,\u201d Onyango says. As a result of the rapid growth, there has been sharp rise in land value. The prices of plots here are predicted to skyrocket further, especially with the increasing demand. Currently, the land market value for an eighth of an acre in the middle and high-class residential area is estimated at Sh2.5 million, while an acre plot prices range between Sh7 and Sh12 million. And with the property growth primed to continue for some time, investors are expected to increase their appetite for land to take up developments, leading to further skyrocketing prices. The influx of institutional investors in the region, the view that Riat is the next Milimani and unregulated land pricing regime has also attracted a new set of players: cons. As such, investors, who intend to acquire land in the area, are cautioned to exercise due diligence before buying land for their projects. Frank Olero, a resident and developer in the area, says there have been many cases of fraud. As a result, many developers have been duped into illegal land dealings and ended up losing millions of shillings. He adds that Kanyakwar area is the most affected. The situation, he says, propelled the lands office in Kisumu to temporarily stop land transactions in the area sometime last year. Due diligence The most common cases reported involved issuing multiple title deeds to the same parcel of land. Olero alleges that unscrupulous people collude with officials at the ministry of lands offices to process fake documents, hence compromising on the authenticity of the titles. \u201cThere is a need for land buyers to exercise caution and be more vigilant when undertaking the transactions processes. If possible they should physically visit the area and engage the locals who understand the history very well and know the original land owners,\u201d he says. Olero notes that some parcels of land are ancestral thus complicating the purchasing processes. Onyango concurs, saying property investors face challenges with purchasing land in the area considering that majority of the plots are still ancestral land, hence require succession, subdivision and even resurveying. \u201cThe process of processing the land titles from succession to subdivision can pose challenges especially where family members are not willing to cooperate. Developers also need to work closely with the local authority, mainly the chiefs, when buying land in the area for cases where success is in the picture,\u201d he says. Prominent residents Among aspects that make the area attractive is that a vast part of the scenic hillside has been taken up by wealthy businessmen and politicians, who are the majority homeowners in the vicinity. Other high-ranking personalities with residences on the hills include renowned politicians among them Members of Parliament, senior government officials and prominent lawyers.\u00a0 Majority of the home owners in the area have put up massoinettes while other developers have built stand-alone residential apartments. Onyango says development in the area is also characterised by institutional investors who have moved in and bought land, subdivided and are now listing for sale to the public or members. The hilltop is also home to facilities such as Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology, Kisumu Specialists hospital and the Susan Owiyo Art Centre. There is also a surge in hotel development projects. Notably, several high-end hotels and resorts have come up here in the past few years. Need for low cost housing In terms of existing opportunities for potential developers, Onyango says there is a need for low cost residences to cater for those working in the new ventures in Riat Hills. For example, students studying in Riat college still put up in Mamboleo because of lack of accommodation up the hill. \u201cWe need rental flats in the vicinity of Riat to ease the pressure for low cost housing demand in the neighbouring estates,\u201d he adds. Onyango says the area has prospects, thanks to road networks opening up the estate, port revamp and presence of several undeveloped parcels in the hands of speculators. He, however, adds that factors such as lack of proper planning by the county government, poor road network and electricity connectivity plus the existence of unethical practices by some land officials are major challenges that stand in the way of development in Riat Hills. The property agent says poor planning could lead to mixed development, hence hinder other prospective developments. To remedy the situation, he recommends that the county government move in fast to come up with a standard planning model to guide property growth in the area. Additionally, he urges those seeking to invest in the area to work with institutional real estate agencies to assist with land purchase and processing. \u201cThe county in conjunction with the national government should ensure the area is fully connected to water and electricity besides improving the road network,\u201d he says in conclusion.