With an increasing housing deficit of more than 156,000 units annually and an estimated shortage of two million units overall, the property market in Kenya holds great potential and great risk: while the significant housing deficit provides an ideal investment opportunity, there’s the threat of rampant fraud and fleecing.
Researching and counter-checking the available ways of searching for housing in Kenya can significantly reduce the risk of falling prey to fraudsters and swindlers who are eager to capitalize on the mushrooming Kenyan property market.
Registered Estate Agents
The majority of properties are under the management of real-estate agents who are responsible for not only managing properties but also connecting sellers and buyers, valuing properties based on prevailing market conditions and offering useful insights about renovations and home improvements.
More often than not, real-estate agencies operate in urban settings in Kenya, and most are independent firms or agents.
- Narrow down your search for an agent to those who are registered to provide services corresponding with Kenyan property-market regulations and laws.
- Agents are registered through the Kenyan Ministry of Lands
- Agents qualify for registration with the Ministry of Lands only if they are members of a qualifying surveyors board, such as the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya, or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), or they hold a diploma or license from recognized college or school.
- Verify the agent or agency’s reputation and performance through customer reviews and referrals from friends prior to engaging them.
- Viewing fees are charged to buyer/renters. They are based on the size and reputation of a real-estate agency and most importantly, the type of property.
- For example, for a three-bedroom apartment, viewing charges may be around Ksh1,000 – 2,000.
- Agents’ fees are charged to buyers/renters in cities such as Mombasa.
- For renting, for example, the fees are usually negotiable but about equal to one month’s rent.
- For buying, the fees are a percentage of the asking price.
- For commercial property, the searching, viewing and rent fees are often double or triple the amount as for residential property.
- Agents earn on average a 1.25% commission upon the sale of a property, which is paid by both seller and buyer.
Perhaps the oldest if not most common way of searching for real estate in Kenya – most property owners advertise in the local dailies and there are hundreds of listings every day. This is the medium used most often to fleece potential property buyers and investors-proceed with caution.
- Each property advert is charged per word
- Interested parties contact prospective sellers using the availed contact details
- Viewing fees are charged
Word of Mouth
Often used in rural areas where real-estate agencies are rare and newspaper reading is the privilege of a few, word of mouth has proven effective in getting the best deals.
- Used among family, friends and colleagues who recommend valid and lucrative real-estate opportunities – usually with ample security, connected to infrastructure (such as roads or near facilities such as hospitals) and have efficient and adequate supply of water and energy.
- For competitively sought-after real estate, you may need to know the right people to get an opportunity to either rent or buy. Alternatively, there may be an unending waiting list. Using a property finder can cut through much of the leg work.
Web Portals & Social Media
Web portals are the newest way to search for real estate in Kenya and they are growing at a high rate due to increasing competition among Kenyan real-estate organizations. Popular web portals include:
However, social media networks such as Facebook are gaining ground as the fastest and most affordable platform for promoting and searching for real estate in Kenya.