For first-time buyers, buying a house is one of the largest investments most individuals make in their lifetime and one that requires much thought and input. You can’t afford to make a wrong investment and acquire a property you wouldn’t give a second glance at!
If you’re like most people who make their first property investment, many questions flood your mind. Remember, there are no silly or dumb questions. Getting the right answers to these questions will contribute to you making a well-informed investment decision.
So, let’s delve into some of the questions brought up by first-time buyers.
Buying or renting
This is perhaps one of the questions that pop up in the mind of many potential first-time property investors across the board. The decision to buy or rent affects your financial health, personal goals, and overall lifestyle. Important to note is that the decision you make is pegged on your financial situation and the lifestyle you aspire to have or currently walk in. However, both require a degree of financial stability for payments and maintenance.
Some of the advantages of buying a house rather than renting are:
- It provides a sense of security and freedom – Let’s get honest, knowing you must have rent every other month can get nerve-racking.
- It provides a sense of pride – having a place of your own you can call home, where you are in charge of designing it to suit your personality is that icing needed to sweeten the taste of the cake.
- Provides an opportunity to build on equity – equity in real estate is the probable value of the property minus the mortgage and all other expenses/debts incurred to acquire the house. As you pay your mortgage loan, equity on the house keeps increasing.
- The value of land keeps appreciating, therefore, the return on investment of buying a house is guaranteed.
- You could develop or flip the house in the short term and resell it at a much higher price.
- If buying a property on its own land, you can build a servant quarter on it and earn some rent while living in the main house.
- Increased financial gains – As the value of property increases, so does the rent.
Am I ready?
For first-time buyers, check your readiness by asking certain questions:
- Do I have a stable job?
- Do I have a steady income? If not, are there alternative income options?
- How reliable is my source of income for the foreseeable future?
- Do I have any outstanding bank loans/ debts?
- Do I have income saved for a down payment?
- Can I manage to pay off my mortgage, insurance, utilities, and taxes? The general rule of the thumb, your mortgage should not take more than 25 – 30% of your next income.
You can use the answers to the above questions as a yardstick to determine if this is the right move for you now or if you need to make some adjustment and postpone it to the future. However, if you can afford to spend a maximum of 30% to pay off your loan, then you’re good to go.
What’s the duration taken to purchase a house?
The answer to this question is not set in stone as several factors affect how fast or slow your home acquisition process will be. However, certain underlying principles apply. After you have seen the house you desire and settled on the pricing, it can take 30-45 days to process your loan and process papers for homeownership transfer. Therefore, closing in on a house can tentatively take 1 to 2 months.
How much will I need for a down payment?
One of the greatest hurdles for first-time buyers is the down payment. Realtors will require a down payment of between 5-20%. The percentage may vary based on the mortgage specifications and the lender’s requirements. Ensure you make a savings plan and stick to it. Sacrifice goes a long way in ensuring you achieve the goal.
How do I get the best mortgage?
Once you get your dream house, it’s painstaking going through the various terms and mortgage rates. However, you can do your homework beforehand by:
- Consulting with your preferred bank
- Also, if your job offers mortgages for its employees, look at the offer and do a comparative analysis.
- Consult with someone skilled in the field.
Do SACCOs offer better deals?
One of the ways to get your dream house is to save with Saccos for a period of up to 5years to qualify for a mortgage loan. In Kenya, Sacco’s offers the best mortgage loans with low-interest rates and a more extended repayment period.
Let’s say you’ve opened a Sacco account and are saving Ksh. 5,000 monthly, your annual savings will sum up to Ksh. 60,000. The accumulated amount of this in five years is Ksh. 300, 000, and the better part, you can acquire a mortgage loan five times your savings. That’s a 1.5M mortgage loan at a very low-interest rate.
Some of the Sacco’s to consider that offer the best deals are:
- Harambee Sacco – Harambee Sacco offers mortgage loans at a very subsidized interest rate of 7%. If you save up with this Sacco, you can get a loan ranging from KS. 500k – 4M. The repayment period is up to 25years.
- Safaricom Sacco – for this Sacco, you must save up for one year to acquire a mortgage loan that sums up to five times your savings. The interest rate is 8% per annum on the reducing balance with a repayment period of up to 25years depending on the mortgage loan. Noteworthy is that the minimum amount of mortgage loan you can get is 3M and the maximum 8M.
- Police Sacco – Police Sacco finances its members with loans to either purchase a house or construct one. The interest rate is 9% with a repayment period of up to 20years. The maximum amount of loan you can get is 4M.
As we land this plane, research is paramount in investing in property. Get your facts right, save up and look for the property that best suits you. Remember, there are no silly or dumb questions. Asking the right questions will help you make an informed decision which is the first step in landing that dream house.
If you need to consult, we are available to advise.
Is investing in real estate in a recession a possibility? Recessions are no new thing in the country and the world at large. Recessions are characterized by high unemployment rates, falling stock prices, high-interest rates, and loss of consumer confidence.
In 2007 when Kenya faced election violence, house prices took a steep, stock prices reduced, and there was high inflation in the country. The recession during that time took 10 years which in the short term, wasn’t a good time to invest in real estate.
Since then, the nation has encountered high economic times. According to statistics by United States Agency for International Development, Kenya has been one of the fastest growing economies in Africa from 2015-2018 with an annual average increase of 5.9% and a GDP of $95 Billion.
However, in 2019, the global pandemic hit our economy hard. The GDP fell from 6.3% in 2018 to 5.6% in 2019. Until then, we have been trying to rebuild our economy as all sectors of the economy were hit hard.
Even now when the pandemic has taken a dip, the country is yet faced again with a recession owing to the increase in the level of inflation in the country because of increased fuel prices.
Despite the numerous recessions that have taken place, the value of the real estate has increased in recent years. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the real estate sector experienced a growth in 2019 of 5.3 from 4.1% in 2018.
So, why is this so? And what does that mean for you as a homeowner or a real estate investor? How can you benefit from it?
Let’s discuss whether it is a good idea to invest in real estate in Kenya in a recession.
Why buy property in a recession?
1. Housing is a basic need
Despite the nosedive in the economy, housing will always be a basic need. Therefore, there will always be a demand for property.
In a recession, we can resist buying a new car or a new phone, but no one can voluntarily decide to be homeless.
Most investors prefer investing in real estate during a recession as the housing prices have gone down and as the law of economics says, when prices go down, they can only go back up.
Therefore, they purchase the house during a recession and hold it to sell it later when the economy has stabilized.
For homeowners, you can consider renting out your house or apartment and get rental income. Rental income offers a safety net even during times of recession.
2. Residential property is more stable
During a recession, investing in residential real estate offers a safety net and security.
Commercial properties have been considered more stable than residential properties. After all, some companies have been there for 20 years. However, the pandemic proved this theory wrong with most businesses closing as they are unable to pay for the rental space and with their employees working from home, the property lost its value.
Commercial property is subject to some market forces which do not necessarily affect the residential property. When businesses closed, individuals took advantage of the reduction of interest rates by the Central Bank of Kenya to take mortgages to buy property. This is because people need a home regardless of what is happening in the world.
3. Real estate investments have a propensity of being stable
During a recession, investing in property offers lucrative opportunities and stability to investors. Unlike stocks, residential property is not subjected to daily trading hence it’s less volatile.
In the recession we are experiencing as a nation, homeowners and investors were not only cautioned by residential rental income but also the security of having a roof over their heads enabled them to think of more lucrative ideas to stay afloat during such trying times.
What sectors in real estate are likely to do well during a recession
For most Kenyans who desire to live in luxury homes, finances still serve to be a problem.
The economic recession we experienced and are currently going through has seen a majority of middle-class earners looking for affordable housing in the outskirts of Nairobi in towns like Ngong and Kileleshwa. Therefore, developers and investors alike strive to purchase more houses in the developing towns resulting in an influx of people.
The low-middle income houses have sold more than high-end luxury houses as Kenyans look for affordable houses. Also, the affordable housing agenda by the government of Kenya has fostered the purchase of low-middle-income houses.
Despite the nosedive in the economy, housing will always be a basic need. Therefore, there will always be a demand for property.
During a recession, investing in residential real estate offers a safety net and security in comparison to commercial property as it’s not subject to some of the market forces.
It is, therefore, a good idea to invest in real estate in Kenya during a recession as it offers many lucrative opportunities.
As we know that recessions are bound to be in the future, the majority of houses in such times will be owned by real estate investors as they will continue building even when economic times go down, because people have to have a roof over their heads. This will move the real estate model from a homeownership model to a rent-based model.
Additionally, as disposable income left by the buyers to invest in real estate will be low, start-ups will bank more on the government’s affordable housing plan and we’ll see more residential homes taking shape into commercial real estate resulting in an increase in mixed-used property.
If you’re looking for a stand-alone property for investment, check out the best real estate.
Most Kenyans living in the diaspora spend most of their finances on the purchase of land. However, the question begs how does one invest in real estate from the diaspora?
According to a survey done by the Central Bank of Kenya in 2021, the remittance from the diaspora amounted to USD 3,718 million with most Kenyans working in the diaspora investing most of their finances in purchasing land and repaying mortgages.
The journey of investments from the diaspora will continue to increase at an accelerated pace owing to intergenerational wealth transfer. Such transfers will eventually appreciate the value of their nation of origin as those from the diaspora often tend to invest back home.
Real estate investments while in the diaspora when done right, offers vast lucrative opportunities. However, with the offshoots of fraud individuals, the majority of Kenyans in the diaspora are skeptical about investing in real estate.
So, let’s look into how to invest in real estate from the diaspora.
1. Have an investment strategy.
Although the potential of property investment is limitless it’s prudent to have a strategy in place as a potential real estate investor. The real estate market has various variables and factors to consider that need attentive evaluation. Not conducting appropriate research is risky. Also, conducting research helps you in developing your strategy.
A plan prevents you from making poor judgments and ultimately financial loss. Some things to consider as you plan are:
- The type of property you desire to invest in. Are you planning on buying a townhouse, an apartment, or a commercial property?
- The location of the property. Look out for the best location to invest in.
- What is the purpose of your investment? Are you purchasing a house for rent or for you to live in? If it is for rent, you will need to consider hiring a real estate agent to manage it.
- What offers better ROI, buying off-plan or a completed house.
Above is a house for sale in Santack estate along Ngong road. The asking price is Kes. 12.5M. View the house for sale
2. Real estate agent
Although you may feel sufficient after well-done research to conduct the investment on your own, it’s vital to get a real estate agent. Having an agent furnishes you with information you wouldn’t readily find on the internet such as costings, the market type, and the ideal target market should you desire to buy property for rent among others.
The right real estate agent would have researched the local market and is licensed by the Kenyan government.
Additionally, having a credible agent would offer you peace of mind and help ease the process.
The decision of investing in property either through your finances or mortgage lies solely on your investment plan. According to The Central Bank, on average, the mortgage amount given is Kes. 8.6M, the interest rate charged is 10.9%, and the repayment period is 11.2 years.
Some of the institutions that offer diaspora mortgages are The National Bank of Kenya, Housing Finance company of Kenya, and NCBA bank among others.
If you desire to get a mortgage in diaspora, the requirements vary depending on the institution of choice. However, some of the requirements that cut across are:
- You must be a Kenyan citizen
- Must be gainfully employed in your resident country
- Have a KRA pin and produce a copy of your national ID
- Demonstrate the ability to repay
4. Hiring a lawyer
Once you have identified the ideal property you desire to invest in, hiring a lawyer is the next step. Real estate investment has various processes some of which require legal attention. Hiring a lawyer serves you with advice on the legal requirements required and helps you with the process.
Hiring a lawyer also offers a sense of security in your purchase journey.
How to invest in real estate from the diaspora is easy if you know the steps to consider before embarking on the journey.
Remember, real estate investments have risk factors, so it’s important to do prior research and keep learning.
Also, before spending a shilling on the property, ensure you contact a licensed realtor to help you. Remember the location of the property is everything, therefore, investigate factors that make a place a prime location before investing in property within the locality.
As an investor, to avoid complications in the process, focus on a particular area of property investment and build an investment strategy. Ensure to keep consulting even as you do your research as it offers a safety net as you embark on the journey.
We know that the processes of investing in real estate from the diaspora may seem tedious as of now, however, in the future, there will be applications developed that allow one to invest in real estate with just a tap from the phone regardless of where you are. This is a similar way to Mpesa and how it made banking easy. Therefore, those in IT could bank on this opportunity by creating applications that make property acquisition easy by reduction of the processes involved. Happy investing!
The real estate sector remains a major player in the country’s economy. Over the years, its contribution to the overall GDP has grown exponentially. According to the Kenya Bureau of Statistics, it grew from 10.5% in 2000 to 12.5% in 2012, in 2016 it was at a whopping 13.8% and even with the recession, it has grown to 20% in 2021.
This growth has been contributed because of:
- Infrastructure developments such as utility connections, improved roads, and modernization of major airports.
- Stability in the GDP growth.
- Demographic trends such as the increase in urbanization of 4.4 per annum.
These variables have in this manner driven the emergence of some unique trends in the real estate industry. Let’s look at 7 new trends in the real estate sector.
1. Office space
In 2020, the demand for office space in Kenya went down by 68%. This came as the government tried to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the country by enacting curfews and lockdown measures. They also encouraged employers to allow their employees to work from home.
The disruptions in the supply chain and the economic recession increased the need for companies to reassess their working models. Businesses will continue to find ways to reduce their overhead costs by looking for affordable options and adapting work-from-home models. Therefore, the uptake of office space in brick-and-mortar setups will reduce.
Also, as the sector grows, it sees new trends as clientele change their preferences and international companies create a demand for something world-class. Serviced offices are slowly gaining popularity due to growing SMEs and as the dynamics of office space design and requirements continue to unfold. More and more developers are offering semi-serviced offices by providing facilities such as partitions and kitchen cabinets.
To reduce operating costs and provide a safe and healthy environment for workers, property developers are increasingly adopting green building technology, which has been shown to increase employee productivity.
Another trend in office space is the uptake of a smart office. It’s one designed to feel like home so that to meet the customer’s demand. A smart office is one equipped with amenities such as a cafeteria, gym, and entrances for people with disabilities. It’s driven by the force to produce an elegant and quality modern office.
2. Increase in the demand for residential houses
With a rapidly growing population and even more so a growing middle class, the housing sector has seen an increased demand nationwide.
There has also been an increase in the demand for affordable housing for the 61% of city dwellers who live in slums and an increase in student accommodation. As a result, we have seen more and more developers adopting low-cost housing construction methods such as alternative construction technologies, which are known to reduce construction costs by up to 50%.
In addition, with the demand for a live-work-play lifestyle, master-planned communities are proliferating, and areas like Machakos and Kiambu counties are becoming hotspots. Notable urban planned communities include Konza and Tatu City.
3. Increase in the demand for land
Even amidst a pandemic and challenging economic times, land proved to be a resilient asset. In 2020, there was a 2.3% annual capital appreciation.
The annual increase in urbanization of 4% and the increase in population which is above average at 1.1% make it a potential center of economic growth. A relatively young and investment-strong workforce will continue to drive the increasing demand for land.
With the progressive expansion of major highways such as the Nairobi Expressway and Waiyaki Way, demand for land in the country is expected to continue to increase.
Also, the rise of satellite towns such as Ngong and Kimuka attracts investors to purchase land as the land prices in the said towns keep appreciating.
Infrastructure development has meant property values have risen, while a growing population has ensured continued demand. In a concept known as land speculation, investors are increasingly buying land to sell it later in hopes of it appreciating in the future.
In addition, to attract buyers, developers are using agribusiness to add value to plots for sale. This offers seasonal returns to their clients. Agribusiness includes agricultural activities, agricultural insurance, full farm management services, and a guaranteed sale of the products.
4. Change in the industrial real estate
Industrial real estate similar to commercial properties is undergoing a gradual transformation. A changing clientele that prefers high-quality inventory that enables modern distribution, retail, and manufacturing practices. This has resulted in modern industrial parks such as Tatu City which are built in such a way that they enable a living, working, and playing concept.
There is also a demand in the market for serine locations that are away from the congested CBD, and Mombasa Road areas. To fulfill the market demand, industrial parks are now moving to areas within Nairobi’s periphery, such as Machakos and Kiambu County, where they’re close to major railway terminus and airports.
5. Increase in the retail sector as a result of urbanization
With an increase in the middle-income class and more disposable income, both local and international developers are taking advantage of the ready market with the mall concept. This has made Kenya rank as having the second largest mall in Africa after South Africa.
The most remarkable of such developments are The Hub, Two Rivers Mall, and Garden City.
6. Real estate’s future is digital
As real estate companies revise their strategies to improve their digital customer experience, Kenyans are increasingly buying land through digital platforms. This is particularly attractive to Kenyans who live in the diaspora and are looking for opportunities to invest in land.
The land requisition process has also been made transparent with the Ministry of Lands providing a digital portal that allows landowners to conduct a land search, transfer ownership and obtain a title deed.
Another trend emerging is the building of unique apartments that look like stand-alone houses within Nairobi. As the population increase, constructors will look for efficient ways to house the increasing population. In addition, the tenants will have developed an inclination to finer spaces of living owing to the development of commercial real estate.
As the city continues to fill up, we’ll also witness a trend of people moving away from the noisy city to more quiet places. Therefore, many undeveloped cities will begin developing as investors invest in residential real estate to meet the demand.
The real estate industry has made tremendous progress and advancement. Various stakeholders in the industry are making commensurate changes to match the market demand and remain relevant in the field.
It’s important to study the trends as they are ever-changing to ensure you remain on the cutting edge and make profits. Even with these advances, due process remains a key component of real estate transactions. Real estate companies in the industry need to ensure they offer value, quality, and affordability.
Here’s a real estate property in Nairobi that you can add agricultural value to it by utilizing its spacious backyard.
The Kenyan real estate sector before the elections has enjoyed tremendous growth. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, in 2021, the real estate industry in Kenya contributed 8.9% of the country’s GDP. This improved record in the sector is supported by the focus on the development of infrastructures such as housing, water, and electricity supply.
On the flip side, we have factors that threaten this growth such as insufficient development financing and economic instability owing to the fast-approaching elections.
After the 2007 election violence, the election period in Kenya has been one filled with tempestuous streaks. As has been the tradition during an election year, investors keep off investing and Kenyans adopt a wait-and-see attitude as they await the political climate to cool.
In this article, we’ll look at the impact on the real estate industry in an election year. We’ll glean from past election trends; drawing insights from property seekers, social projects, and developers.
Impact on property seekers
As we are nearing the elections, property seekers and tenants generally tend to hold off their businesses in areas prone to election ferocity. Additionally, economic uncertainty drastically reduces purchasing power.
The reduction in the purchasing power for potential property seekers would either result in drawing back their search until the election period is over or pulling back to satellite towns such as Syokimau, Ruaka, Ngong, Ongata Rongai, Kikuyu among others as the house prices reduce drastically.
In addition, property seekers and tenants generally tend to avoid areas previously prone to election violence. With this, the real estate sector suffers certain corrections as landlords offer their existing and potential clients property concessions. This involves price discounts on house prices and rents to attract and keep the existing tenants.
Impact on developers
With the uncertain impact of the elections on real estate, developers slacken the construction during this election period until politicking levels cool down.
In addition, commercial banks and credit institutions tighten their loan terms to developers by lowering their loan limits to combat the increase in defaulters because of economic uncertainties.
According to the statistics by the Central Bank in their 2021 quarterly economic review, the real estate sector in 2021 recorded an increase in the cumulative gross non-performing loans of Kes 69.2 billion from 57.7 billion in 2020.
Impact on social projects
As the outgoing government tries to fulfill its promises, there is a general increase in the levels of expenditure in the country.
The outgoing government rolls out various projects such as roads, sewer network projects, and water, among others. The real estate sector will benefit from these developments in the long run. After the election period, when developers invest in the regions developed they get to yield great returns.
During elections, the atmosphere is filled with uncertainty and economic strains. Investors keep off investing and Kenyans adopt a wait-and-see attitude as they await the political climate to cool. Majorly, stakeholders tend to hold off investing in the sector which reduces the value of the property. This generally affects the whole real estate industry.
Despite this, there lies hope as the season of high politicking will end. The economy will stabilize, and we can rebuild the industry.
Also, there can be lifting in the future for those who capitalize on the opportunities for affordable housing available now. Also remember, the peace of the nation translates to the prosperity of the industry.
Following the peaceful 2022 election, Kenya is proving to be a more stable and predictable economy worth investing in. The concept of tribalism is being overshadowed by issue-based politics. This will bring a more mature leadership that is capable of putting the peace of the nation before their political interests.
With technology also improving in the voting process, we see a time when there will be no need for public holidays, and people will simply vote through their phones and continue with business as usual. This will translate to an economy that can remain unaffected by every election cycle. This will in turn have a positive effect on the real estate industry-particularly those that suffer a reduction of international guests on Airbnb and such like businesses.
If you’re looking for a stand-alone property for investment, we have the best property of choice for you.
The concept of off-plan buying has gained traction in Kenya in recent years. The majority of investors are attracted to off-plan buying owing to the promise of property appreciation.
When buying off-plan, it means you’re purchasing a property that is not yet complete or started. Buying property on off-plan offers great investment opportunities as you get to purchase property below its actual market value when complete.
However, most Kenyans have lost money owing to developers not delivering as per the agreement owing to a shortage of finances or simply because they were shady.
Some of the questions to ask yourself before settling for off-plan buying are:
Yield – A yield is a return you expect to make from your investment. Most developers state that yield is 5% but this is not always true. No one can predict how much you will sell or rent your property on completion. A good yield for an off-plan property should be higher than 6.5% which is the average in Nairobi.
The yield in real estate in high-end areas like Runda is about 3% but this is compensated by the capital gains of the value of the property over time. The law of demand and supply determines this. There are fewer land parcels in Runda and as such, one will always have to pay a premium.
Location – When settling for off-plan buying, location is critical. You are more likely to make money from the wrong property in the right location. When considering off-plan buying to rent, think of rent as your primary income generation strategy. Ensure to make quality units and maximize the rental income as the rental income market is here to stay.
Some questions to ask your developer before committing to the project are:
1. Their track record
What track record do they have? The developer should have previous experience in the field. Check how long they have been in the industry and the number of completed projects. Look at the quality of the team and the projects they’ve completed both separately and as a team.
Talk to the owners and inquire how their journey was. Were they satisfied with the end product? What was the response of the developer when they raised issues about the home before and after the construction? A responsible and trustworthy developer will ensure to follow through even after handing over as the new home still needs some maintenance or adjustments.
2. Are they trustworthy?
Off-plan buying requires prolonged payments during the development stages of the property and the final balance paid upon completion. As such, the developer should have a trustworthy and professional team that shows the capability to secure your finances during the construction process and ensure the successful completion of the project from its initial stages.
3. Viability of the project
As an investor, ensure to investigate the location of the property and other surrounding properties as well. Focus on the location which you can always improve by repainting the property and doing other upgrades. For example, in Karen, property values are reduced because of insecurity which is out of the homeowners’ control. A good location is one with access to the market.
If you can’t stay in that property yourself, likely, you won’t get value appreciation on it over time. The properties along Mombasa Road were driven by the industries in that area which made it easier for people to walk to work.
If you build a home that’s 2km away from the main road and it’s not in a safe area, your rental yield will be lower than a property that’s not close to the road. Pay more attention to the yield than the capital gains.
4. Accountability and transparency
A credible developer should be willing to divulge information that would help their client know them more. This includes information on their projects and how money is managed throughout the development stages. They should also be willing to send monthly or quarterly updates on the progress of the house and the quality of work.
Also, the payment plan should have consistent payment options to the end. The plan should clearly state the initial deposit coupled with the dates of the consecutive payments.
Off-plan buying offers long-term investments you can bank on. Remember to pay more attention to the yield than the capital gains. Also, choose your location wisely as you are more likely to make money from the wrong property in the right location.
One of the factors to consider is that within the course of time, there will be more demand for rental units in comparison to stand-alone houses or gated communities as we know them now. Therefore, we will see a change in how off-plan development is done now where we have stand-alone houses looking similar to where we will see more multi-family units and more types of real estate emerging.
Questions developers and investors should answer is what are the alternative methods of construction we can apply to fit the emerging trends? Those researching alternative real estate models other than the ones we have now stand a chance to take off-plan buying to another tangent in the near future.
Do your homework before settling on the developer and making payments. Here’s a house that will get your investment juices flowing especially with its spacious backyard.
Some of the above information was derived from a podcast interview shared by Kevin Kanemba, who is a qualified real estate practitioner. He has had experience working in companies like Dyer and Blair as an investment advisor and Centum as a project manager for Two Rivers. He also runs his own company: Brownstone investment group.