Real Estate

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You do not have to be rich to join property market.



Don’t wait until you have saved enough to build a house. Put the ‘little’ cash you have in a joint land-buying venture and watch your investment grow. 

In Summary

  • Indeed, real estate has proved to be an avenue for creating wealth.
  • Whether it is building your retirement home or buying plots as a group, many of us have dreamt of investing in property at a certain point in our lives.
  • However, sometimes investing in real estate can be intimidating for beginners due to fear of the unknown.

“Earth is the best investment on earth.”

That is a statement by Mr Gilbert Kibire, the CEO of Icon Valuers Ltd, a real estate firm based in Nairobi, a statement echoed by his colleague, Mr Martin Cheboror.

“Land is the only asset you can invest in, where its value will almost always appreciate,” Mr Kibire expounds.

Indeed, real estate has proved to be an avenue for creating wealth. Whether it is building your retirement home or buying plots as a group, many of us have dreamt of investing in property at a certain point in our lives.

However, sometimes investing in real estate can be intimidating for beginners due to fear of the unknown.

Mr Cheboror explains that these reservations are legitimate as he has seen people lose millions of shillings and go bankrupt overnight in real estate deals gone awry.

“For smart investors who consult widely and seek guidance from professionals, the industry sure is lucrative, as we have facilitated deals in which people have made millions of shillings overnight,” he says.

Below are 10 tips that will help you get started in real estate and turn investing in property into a lifelong pursuit to secure your financial future.


A common truism in property circles is that, with real estate, you don’t wait to buy, you buy and wait.

“Many people lose out on making a fortune because they think the money they have is too insignificant to get them into the real estate business.

They don’t know that there are investment packages and opportunities they can exploit if they seek guidance from a real estate agent,” Mr Cheboror offers.

To drive the point home, Mr Kibire gives the scenario of two individuals with Sh100,000 each, and who both want to own a home in 10 years.

While individual A might think it is better to save until he can raise the capital required to build a home, individual B, who gets into a joint land-buying venture with his Sh100,000, will be better off as his stake in

the venture will have risen over the years since the value of land always appreciates.

“There are many financing options available to people with an interest in the real estate, ranging from bank loans to mortgages and micro-finance savings packages. Just make sure the income or appreciation

value of your property surpasses the interest on the loan to avoid burning your fingers,” advises Mr Kibire

You don’t need to buy an apartment complex right out of the gate. It is okay to start small, even if it is with REITs or partnerships. Just start.


Most people find the allure of buying property today and selling it after a short time hard to resist. However, the two professionals caution against getting into real estate with such an attitude because, like any

other investment, there is always an element of risk involved.

“One virtue that will prove very vital in this business is patience, which goes hand in hand with the principle of delayed gratification.

A person seeking to make a fortune in the real estate sector should be prepared to work hard and learn over a long time to understand how the market works,” Mr Kibire says.


If you are looking to  getting started in the property sector, quitting your regular job might not be a very sound move, especially if it is the job that provided the initial capital for your investment.

According to Mr Cheboror, people who quit their jobs to concentrate on real estate are oblivious of the fact that they can get professionals to handle the management part of their investments.

“Property agents and land economists have obviously been in the industry much longer, and are thus more experienced in competently managing your investments,” he says.

Relying on professionals saves you time as it only requires you to play a supervisory role.


The average Kenyan looking to get into real estate is always paranoid. This is because cases of people buying land whose title deeds are later revoked are rampant in many parts of the country.

“We have had people asking us to do a title deed verification when their investments have already gone up in smoke.

By then it is too late, and there is little we can do. To avoid being sucked into such unscrupulous deals, we advise land buyers to consult  professionals , who will carry out due diligence to verify the legitimacy

of the property in question,” says Mr Kibire.

Even when buying property from a family member, a friend or a person you think you know very well, resist the temptation to skip carrying out due diligence as unforeseen circumstances  could later lead to

life-long scarring.

“We know of people who spend the rest of their lives servicing loans for properties that turned out to be phony,” Mr Cheboror offers.

Given the kind of emotions land  issues raise, it is certainly better to be safe than sorry.


When getting started, it is advisable to build a team of professionals  you can easily consult before making any move, especially one that involves high financial expenditure.

A property valuer, a conveyancer, an accredited contractor and a loan adviser are a few of the professionals whose advice you cannot afford to shrug off.

While adding the professionals to your payroll might seem costly at a glance, a closer look will reveal that it actually saves you money.

Mr Kibire, the CEO, cites the case of a client who wanted to buy a house in Nairobi valued at Sh10 million, a week before the interview.

Before he could seal the deal, however, the prospective buyer decided to call  the valuation firm for advice.

“Our team visited the property and advised the client not to pay a cent more than Sh7 million for the property. He later sealed the deal for Sh6.5 million. While we only charged him 0.25 per cent of the property

price for our services, he ended up saving a huge sum,” Mr Kibire  says.


“The importance of location in any real estate investment cannot be overemphasised.

This is because property in prime locations is measured not so much by the cost of construction, but by the value and high appreciation rate of the land on which the property sits,” Mr Cheboror says.

Investing in a simple establishment in a high-end neighbourhood always pays handsomely.

However, the reverse can be the worst mistake an investor could ever make. Buying the best house in the worst neighbourhood, he warns, will always turn out to be disastrous as the value of the land

underneath hardly appreciates, and future buyers will most likely shun the property because of the neighbourhood.


When putting up commercial or residential property to let, seek advice from your agent and do your calculation in such a way that, when the property is finally ready for occupation, the money collected

as  monthly rent is always more than 1 per cent of the total investment cost. This is what Mr Kabire refers to as the 1 per cent rule.

“Say you put up rental apartments at a cost of Sh1 million. The total monthly rent collected from an apartment should always be at least Sh10,000.

This will enable you to recoup your investment in less than 10 years,” Mr Kibire says.

However, the 1 per cent rule is not cast in stone.

“Some investors recoup the principal investment in a shorter time, even four to six years. But those whose buildings on prime land in places such as Westlands and Kilimani take as long as 30 years.

These investors rest easy knowing that the land on which their buildings sit is gaining value at a much higher rate than the rents,” he adds.


Mr Cheboror points out that many small-scale constructors do not appreciate the value of accounting for every shilling spent while constructing.

They thus end up getting duped by unscrupulous foremen and contractors, so building a house ends up feeling like pouring money into a bottomless pit.

He advises that investors get into the habit of keeping all the financial records pertaining to the construction.

This, he explains, is useful in determining the amount of rent to be charged, or the price of the building, were it to be put up for sale.

Keeping records can also save you money when the time comes to file your tax returns with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). The financial records put you in a good position to enjoy tax exemptions.


When buying property for resale, you are better off checking your emotions at the door. “There are buildings put up for sale that are over-designed and over-decorated.

These buildings have great curb-appeal, that is, they look appealing at a glance. People tend to fall in love with such buildings and hence end up paying inflated prices, only for them to get shocked when they

later cannot sell the building at a profit,” Mr Kibire says.

“We always advise our clients that real estate is not a sentimental business. One should always be on the lookout for profits and not let the visual appeal of a property cloud their judgment,” he adds.

However, when buying your own home, you can go ahead and fork top dollar for a property with great curb appeal.


The temptation to cut corners to save some money will certainly arise at some point. The agents agree that taking shortcuts is rarely ever worth it; if anything, it usually results in the loss of entire investments,

and sometimes even lives. Going by the book might seem expensive, but it saves you a lot of mental agony and is actually cheaper.

“Hire only contractors accredited and licensed by the National Construction Authority,” advises Mr Kibire.

“Take note of the national construction regulations and county by-laws to avoid the possibility of your property being demolished in future.

Conduct surveys to avoid encroaching on public land, and use only genuine materials while constructing. I have seen entire buildings being marked as unfit just because the owners did not see the need to

conduct the necessary inspections at the foundation stage.

Original Post from




The Easiest and Legal Way to Buy Land in Kenya

fb_img_1482872847012Buying land should not be such a hassle, especially when you go through the required legal processes. It is important to note that it is only through the right legal procedures that your right as a purchaser will be safeguarded.


  •  Site visits and identification of beacons

The first step in purchasing land is to conduct a site visit. Other than knowing the physical location of the land, a site visit also helps one know the neighbourhood in terms of the social and economic infrastructure.

Conveyance advocate Muthoni Kamau says beacon identification gives the potential buyer a clearer vision of the shape and size of the land and its actual boundaries, as opposed to looking at what is on the deed plan.

Searches and inspection of title of the Land

It is important to visit the lands registry so as to conduct a search of the parcel in question. You will need a copy of the land title deed from the seller to facilitate the search.

She says: “It takes a maximum of three working days to get search results after filing a search application form and attaching a copy of the title. When buying land from a company, you need to do a company registry search at Sheria House, division of company registration, to ascertain that you are actually dealing with a duly incorporated company.

“This will also help you establish the directors and shareholders of the company selling the land,” Kamau explains.

Maxwel Githinji, an advocate, says that the search at the lands office, which should be done by the buyer’s advocate, will help the buyer ascertain the true ownership of the property, how genuine it is, establish whether the land actually exists, whether it is a road reserve, and establish the conditions and/or restrictions on the title.

“From the search, you will be able to establish the user of the title, verify the size of the land, and establish the history of a parcel of land. This is where you will understand how the land is and if there are any caveats, surcharges, or pending rates on it,” Githinji explains.

Preparation of offers and price negotiation

Once the buyer is satisfied with the search results as presented by their advocates from the lands registry and the company registry, then they will okay their advocate to prepare an offer.

Kamau says the advocate should prepare a letter of offer or intent showing the details of the seller and purchaser, the description of the property on offer, and the proposed purchase price and modes of payment.

“A letter of offer is usually in writing as it acts as the guide in preparing the sale agreement that follows. This document is important as it is used to reserve a property from being sold or offered to another party,” she says.

Sale agreement and deposit payment

A sale agreement is drafted once the seller and the buyer have accepted the terms of the offer. It is normally drafted by the seller’s advocate and presented to the buyer’s advocate for approval.

“It is important for the buyer to fully understand the terms of sale for the transaction. Their advocate should be able to clearly explain the clauses in the agreement and their implications. Once the terms are agreed upon between the parties, the advocates will facilitate and witness the execution of the sale agreement,” says Kamau.

Upon the execution of the sales agreement, the agreed deposit is paid by the purchaser through their advocate to the seller’s advocate’s account.

Moses Ogolla, a land selling agent in Kitengela, says this is the safest way to safeguard the buyer’s money and at no point should the buyer send money directly to the seller’s account.

“This is one of the loopholes that most con men use because they do not really want the advocates to handle the money. Using the advocate’s accounts should act as a check againt falling prey to con men,” says Ogolla.

Payment of land rates

Last year, the City Council of Nairobi “clamped houses” that had failed to remit rates.

Buyers should be aware of such property because the payment of rates on land is a legal obligation of land owners and the seller should clear any pending rates on the land before completing the transaction.

Kamau says the seller should produce a clearance certificate for the land before it can be transferred to the buyer.

Transfer documents and consent to transfer

The seller’s advocate prepares transfer documents that will be executed by both the buyer and the seller. The transfer documents will only be executed after consent to transfer has been issued by the commissioner of lands.


For purposes of stamp duty, an application for valuation is always made to the government valuer, who makes a site visit to enable him or her to prepare the requisite valuation report. Stamp duty is important as it is used in registering the property.

The payable duty is determined by a government valuer and the valuation is done to determine the true value of the land on the open market as at the date of transfer.

The intention is to gauge the value declared in the instruments presented for registration for purposes of ascertaining whether the value declared in the instruments will be raised or not.

“It is the buyer’s responsibility to apply for the valuation of the land using the valuation form duly completed by the seller. The lands office will use these documents to determine the stamp duty payable,” says Kevin Tirop, a valuer.

Payment of Stamp Duty

It is the responsibility of the buyer to pay the stamp duty, a tax levied on all lands.

“It is important for people to know that the registration of any such transfer at the lands office cannot be effected until the stamp duty has been paid, embossment done, and the document accompanied by a receipt to prove such payment,” he says.

Registration of transfer

Once the registration process is complete, the legal ownership of the land shall have legally changed hands.

“To facilitate registration of transfer, the original title deed of the land, duly stamped transfer documents, original stamp duty assessment forms and receipt, stamp duty valuation report, original paid-up land rents receipts and clearance certificate, original land rates clearance certificate, consent to transfer, and application for registration are required,” says Kamau.

Exchange of documents

Upon receipt of the completion documents from the seller, the buyer is obligated, in exchange of the documents, to pay to the seller the entire balance against the land through his advocates to finalise the registration of the documents after paying the requisite stamp duty.

“The completion documents from the seller’s advocates include the original title deed of the land, the signed and witnessed transfer documents in favour of the buyer, the original paid-up land rents receipts and clearance certificate, the original land rates paid-up receipts and clearance certificate, and the consent to transfer,” Kamau explains.

Adapted from- Daily Nation