A construction site. Kenyans in the diaspora are interested in upmarket properties that cost around Sh10 million, for example three-bedroomed apartments in the Kilimani area of Nairobi. / Reuters Despite the global financial crisis, real estate has retained its allure among Kenyans in the diaspora since owning a home in their native country remains a key goal. The Central Bank has released figures showing remittances in the first five months of this year totalled $238 million compared to $280 million last year and $210 million in 2007. Godfrey Kibeta, a real estate marketing manager with Kaiwi Agencies, says that a good part of the remittances are invested in real estate. He notes that most Kenyans in the diaspora are interested in upmarket properties that cost around Sh10 million, for example three-bedroomed apartments in the Kilimani area of Nairobi. Some are also interested in property priced in the range of between three to four million, he adds. Mr. Charles Macharia, an accountant at a real estate company, Akshrap, reported that in the past eight months they have sold four properties in Kilimani to Kenyans in the diaspora, at Sh11 million each, accounting for 13 per cent of their annual sales. Consistent flow Kenyans working abroad have been one of the key growth drivers in the local real estate sector, and the government has taken notice of their potential to spur growth in the local economy. Earlier this year the government announced that it will rope in the skills and investments of the over 400,000 Kenyans abroad to help achieve its goals as outlined in Vision 2030. The consistent flow of funds from the diaspora has been interpreted to mean that Kenyans have largely emerged unscathed from massive job cuts in Western economies as a result of the economic meltdown. Analysts say that the principle reason for this is that a majority of Kenyans working in these economies do not for the most part occupy the middle level management positions that have borne the brunt of recession layoffs. Skilled jobs Kenyans hold highly skilled jobs and low skilled jobs. You need your highly skilled workforce to stay, while low skilled employees are simply a matter of necessity, said a money transfer professional who sought anonymity. The report says that cumulatively, remittances in the first five months of 2009 declined by 15.1 per cent compared with the amount received during the same period in 2008.