The greatest social impact of many real estate development projects, particularly those planned for community benefits, is the stress that results from the uncertainty associated with it. Stakeholder involvement through social impact assessment during the development process has been ignored, yet it is crucial to directly involve locals in planning teams in real estate development. Understanding the social conditions of the site surroundings in terms of demographic composition, cultural, religious and social behaviours, is important to establish the potential social impact of any real estate development project.

This paper will be based on reviews of related literature on social impact assessments (SIA). It will further endeavour to establish the need of SIA’s based on its importance and highlight potential setbacks that are likely to befall any real estate developments that does not incorporate the SIA process. The potential gains from SIA will be explained including but not limited to: reduced uncertainty of potential project impacts, enhanced legitimacy of the development project, increased accuracy of the SIA report through community participation, and potential maximisation of the capacity to mitigate impacts. The paper will conclude with the summary of a review of selected recent SIA reports of major projects in Kenya, and a brief assessment of how such SIA reports have significantly enhanced the space for stakeholder acceptance of projects with minimum conflicts.