32-year-old Brian Gacari is the CEO of Property Reality Limited (PRC). He founded the property development company in 2009 with the aim of making it a reality for Kenyans to own property and has sold thousands of property since.
The real estate guru speaks with JACQUELINE MAHUGU on basic tenets that one needs to adhere to when buying land
There are a couple of steps you need to take when investing in real estate. The first thing, is that you have to go see the land. Visiting the property is paramount. The second one is that you have to get and verify the documents.
The documents are the title deed, and then you also have to buy a survey map from the registry, not from just anyone. From my own experience, I have learned that if you're getting documentation, get it from the registry, not second-hand sources, otherwise you will get conned. You cannot trust anyone.
2. Do a formal and informal search
Call a surveyor and confirm the size of the land. Go round with the surveyor and find out if that is the acreage that is on the title deed. This is the Government search.
Then do an informal search. That's when you ask the neighbours who the property belongs to. It is important nowadays to involve the family that you are buying from. You never know what is going on within the family regarding the property.
You might find someone who is age 60 or 70 who now wants to sell his land and enjoy life, yet the children have different ideas about inheritance and this can bring problems. After that, look for a good lawyer who drafts the agreement between the seller and the purchaser. If the seller has a lawyer, you can liaise with him too.
After that, you are good to go. The other alternative is to look for reputable firms like ours that have sold property to thousands of Kenyans.
To know if a firm/agent is reputable, find out how long the firm has been in existence, get reviews, visit their offices, engage them and also let your lawyer engage them. Reputation is key.
3. Work with professionals
In the long run, it is cheaper to have a lawyer and surveyor than to not have them. As professionals, they are able to protect you and your interests. Unfortunately, people try and run away from that cost to save money and end up losing a lot more.
The surveyor verifies the property, then the lawyer drafts the agreement between the seller and the purchaser. However, you can also go to a reputable property firm, which would ideally have all these things in-house. Ensure that they are real professionals, not quacks.
4. The outskirts are where it's at
In the mid to high-end market, the prices will stabilise so more people will eventually afford to buy. Nairobi now has an excess of office space, which, to me, is a sign that things are going to stabilise.
The most likely scenario is that the prices will come down to attract a larger clientele. Right now in the market you can find better deals than you could two or three years back.
However, in the outskirts like Kitengela, Athi River, Thika, Juja and Ruiru, prices will keep going up so investors will have higher returns there. Think about it; where will your children and your grandchildren live? The population is growing and there are more people coming into the country.
As the population grows, people will move to the outskirts, so these places will continue to expand. We do a survey annually and on the last one, we studied Ruaka and how much investors gain there. Our research showed 300 per cent in returns. You cannot get that in Nairobi.
5. Strike while the iron is hot
It is always cheaper to buy property as soon as you can. Buy it at Sh4 million now because three or seven years down the line, that property will be Sh8 million.
There is also a lot of Government infrastructure coming up, like the railway. We have been able to sell many properties along the Nairobi – Mombasa railway, especially in the new town called Emali, which is really growing fast.
6. Invest in other urban areas
More people are moving to urban areas like Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, so those places will give you a higher return in future. Also, there is a lot of opportunity if you invest in rural towns, because presently, the county governments are driving development.
New schools are coming up, bringing up the economic activity in the areas and that is a good thing for an investor there. However, you get higher returns around the major cities because the population is more and there is still more rural to urban migration happening.
7. Do your homework
To know if you are getting a good deal, do internet searches. Look around and find out what other locals are offering. Compare prices. There are many ways to compare – you can look at the site, then find out what the neighbouring plots are being sold for.
8. Invest wisely
I do not think there is any asset that you can buy that grows in value like real estate, even in as little as two to three years, unless you invest in a good business. Take a scenario where land in a fast-growing area was going for Sh350,000 five years ago and you bought three properties then for Sh1.05 million. In five years the cost has risen to Sh2.5 million.
So if you sell two of those properties, you get Sh5 million and you can build a house with that Sh5 million without having to get a loan. When it comes to real estate, thinking ahead is the clincher.