How to invest in real estate in Kenya

WHY YOU SHOULD INVEST IN PROPERTY IN KENYA

Kenya has been in the Global limelight as a favorable investment destination, especially after the GES summit that happened in Nairobi in July 2015. International media has picked this up as expected. A great take I liked was by Forbes , a nice article entitled Why invest in Africa’s Fastest growing economy.

It is an open secret that the business environment in Kenya has been great, with many multinational companies setting up office in the recent history ; big names like Google, IBM, Microsoft, ORACLE, SAP, Coca Cola, GE just to mention a few.

I know you have seen the “for sale” sign on those apartments on your way to work, a number billboards about property open days as you sat in the notorious Nairobi traffic jam, or you just saw a whole newspaper page advert on a new real estate development in Nairobi. All these signs suggest something, the real estate sector is flourishing. It has experienced it’s share of good performance over the years, contributing to 7.85% and 8.12% of the GDP for the last two years respectively according to the Central Bank of Kenya economic review.

Investing in real estate in Kenya

Investment opportunities in Kenya, real estate.

This growth in real estate in Kenya is mainly driven by a huge housing deficit being experienced in housing in Kenya. Currently, the Kenya urban population is growing at an average rate of 4.2% annually resulting in a demand of about 150,000 new housing units every year. The market is only supplying about 20,000 units per year, leaving a yawning deficit. In Nairobi alone, the housing deficit stands at 80,000 units annually according to the Planning and Housing Executive Committee.

This factors present a superb opportunity for those wishing to invest in property in Kenya. With rental returns having grown by 9.7% over the past year and property prices having increased 3.46 times over the last 15 years, the prospect of making a neat return on investment real estate in Kenya is almost given.

However, there are several things to consider before investing in real estate in Kenya.

What You Must Know Before You Invest In Kenyan Real Estate

What to check when investing in property in kenya

What you should know in Kenya’s Real estate

There are several important things you need to understand and check before you get into a property transaction in Kenya. Like any legitimate business, there exists the very real possibility of getting swindled.

To avoid complications, it is first important to check the validity of the title deed, the zoning of the property and whether the land rates and taxes have been paid up to date. It also necessary to check if there are any caveats against the property or any pending disputes on ownership.

After all these check out, the process of purchase is pretty straightforward. But if you are new, it will save you a lot costly mistakes to enlist the services of a qualified legal counsel.

Then there is the issue of financing. If you choose to get a loan or a mortgage to finance your property investment venture in Kenya, be sure that you fully understand exactly how much you are going to pay back. Flexibility on the payment terms is a very good thing.

Finally is the consideration of security and insurance. Real estate investment, as any other asset, should ideally be insured. Shop around for the best insurer, and make sure you understand the terms, especially the fine print.

Property investment options in Kenya

Now that we know that investing in real estate in Kenya is a great idea, and we know what to look out for so as not to make mistakes. We can look at some ways one can invest in property in Kenya.

Investing in property in Kenya : land

Investing in land in Kenya

1. Buying land

The most popular real estate investment avenue in Kenya is Land. Investing in Land in Kenya is appealing simply because once you buy, you really don’t have to do much, most people buy and wait then resell later at a profit. As the real estate mantra goes, don’t wait to buy, buy and wait.

There are a several ways to add value to this sort of investment, such as fencing it, connecting power and water lines and building an access road. As with many real estate investments, location is always King.

Ofcourse the option of developing the land is available , and depending on what one chooses to build and the location of the property, different levels of revenue can be  obtained.

2. Building residential property in Kenya

Residential property is another property investment avenue in Kenya. Actually if one has the finances, one can buy land, build residential units and choose to sell or let. This strategy offers higher returns but requires a lot of expertise and is capital intensive. There are ways of making this work better by using different building technologies, like prefab housing that we covered in a previous blog.

Residential property in Kenya

Building residential property in Kenya

3. Commercial Real estate

Finally we have the option of investing in commercial real estate. Not known to many people, commercial real estate offers more reliable income than residential property investment in Kenya. This is because the lease agreements with the tenants is usually for periods not less than five years and with a rent increment clause that ensures the owner gets incremental income from the property over the lease period. This is also capital intensive and requires a degree of expertise.

Now that you know where to start, you can have a look at our extensive property listing and have us start you on your way to making it big by investing in property in Kenya. Alternatively you can contact us here.

Written by Nathaniel Ndegwa

BUYING OR RENTING COMMERCIAL SPACE

Moi University Pension Scheme Plaza

Moi University Pension Scheme Plaza

Sifa Towers

Sifa Towers

Commercial business premises have become a hot-cake in the property market in Nairobi and leading urban towns. The allure of ultra-modern offices in up-market business addresses like Nairobi’s
Upper-hill, Westlands, Kilimani, Ngong Road, Mombasa Road and some locations in the ever busy Central Business District has remained attractive to many businesses.
Increased growth and commercial might has also seen an increasing trend where businesses are not only buying, but established brands are building own premises with state-of-the art facilities and Wi-Fi connectivity.
This transformed best speaks of the executive nature that doing business is leaning towards in Kenya, as it has put local-owned businesses at a globally competitive platform.
The reality is that choosing to buy or build own business premises is a big commitment for any business — big and small, but on the plus side, owned business premises is a good investment and a long-term asset that will potentially increase in value.
It pays dividends to first gauge on whether it might be better to operate from rented premises or to buy. There are benefits and drawbacks to both.
Some businesses operate in an industry that makes the ability to change location quickly and easily an important factor. To others, the line of business could be historically linked to a specific location that renders the ability to relocate unlikely.

Valley View Business Park

Valley View Business Park

AFFECTS PROFITABILITY
To buy premises, a business will need to sink some capital into the building, and probably take out a commercial mortgage.
This may affect the profitability of the business for some time, and restrict the ability to find or borrow capital for new projects.
On the flip side, the monthly mortgage repayment is likely to be less costly than a rental payment on the same property and it is not just going into anyone’s pockets.
When buying business premises it is advisable to ensure that the planning allows for any changes that may necessitate to be made. It is also good to check if it has asbestos roofing — as it will be an expensive bill to remove it.
However, renting premises gives business organisations greater control over their cash flow. Rents tend to be fixed, whereas mortgage payments will be affected by interest rate rises.
Owners will have to pay for extra buildings insurance. For all businesses, there are other costs to consider, including utility bills, business rates and stamp duty (sometimes tenants have to pay this on commercial leases).
Leasing comes with minimal responsibilities. The owner bears responsibility for any damages or dysfunctional infrastructure, maintenance and repair works within the building. This can be time consuming and added responsibility to a young business.

West Park

West Park

Owning a premises may not give the flexibility that a small business requires as it grows. Renting therefore, may be the better option for smaller companies as they can move to bigger premises and eventually own premises.
The flip side is that owners can do virtually whatever they like within their own buildings, such as creating extra space. That may remove the need for a move. This is an option that may not be open to tenants.
Often lease agreements state the premises must be put back to the original state when they are vacated – that could mean thousands of pounds of improvement work you have done has to be ripped out.

BEFORE SIGNING THE DOTTED LINE…
Finally, here are some general tips from business owners with decades of experience in commercial property:
• Leases: Understand every term and condition in the offer including the total cost until the lease ends and ask the Landlord to confirm in writing that the offer meets the Lease Code.
• Negotiate lower rent and better terms: Do not accept the first rental figure without haggling.
• Opt for short-term leases: You never know what is around the corner, so in your first few years shorter leases are better. It may mean you pay a little more, but one day you may appreciate the ability to move quickly.
• Check how rent is reviewed: If you are going to be facing a possible increase each year, it is better to know about it from day one.

TRV

TRV

Buying
• Buy property in growth areas: If the government has announced a town to be a growth area, there is likely to be initiatives to attract new jobs. Which means more employers who will need business premises. That could have a positive effect on the price of modern business properties.
• View more property: Just as with home hunting, you should view a number of premises, and consider how their size, location and proximity to amenities will affect your business and its staff

TIPS FOR OWNING A HOME

TIPS FOR OWNING A HOME

What is involved in buying a residential property?
Buying a home is an exciting time. But, as one of the largest purchases you’re likely to make, it can also be seen as one of your best long-term investments – so it’s important that you get it right. This means doing your homework and making sure that the property you will eventually buy is the right one for you in terms of price, location, value, size and lifestyle.

Why should I buy a home instead of renting?
You will have a sense of personal satisfaction owning your own home. You will be able to create your own private space that is unique to you. When you own, you can do it all your way!
Owning a home is the possibility of the home increasing in value over time. If you rent, you write your monthly check and it is gone forever. At the end of your lease, you have nothing and face the possibility of increasing rental rates. By purchasing a home, you are entitled to deduct the property taxes you pay as a homeowner.

What factors do I need to consider when buying a home?
Good city services, social amenities proximity and a playground if you have kids, convenient shopping and transportation, a track record of sound development and good planning–these are just a few considerations that are important to many people when they choose a community in which to live.

Can international Buyers purchase property?
Yes, they can, the ideal way to purchase property in Kenya is to appoint a lawyer here and he/she can act on your behalf. Your lawyer will liaise with us in order to have the sale agreement signed by you, for the payment of the deposit, and will also undertake to get the title of the property transferred into your name once the development is complete and the payment is completed.

When should I start looking for a mortgage?
The best time to look for a mortgage is before you look for a house. This enables you to determine the amount of money you can borrow and what house you can afford.

How does one obtain financing in Kenya?
Financing for the purchase of properties can be obtained from Mortgage companies, Banks and Building Societies in Kenya. Details on mortgage schemes, interest rates, repayment terms etc can be obtained directly from them.
What are the property transfer procedures and charges?
The property transfer charges are 2% of the property value in addition to an accelerated installment, payable whenever a property is sold to completion.

Rosslyn Springs Front View

ROSSLYN SPRINGS – SERENE COUNTRY LIVING

Rosslyn Springs is a gated community of spacious well-appointed 4 bedroom townhouses. With close proximity to Village Market and the UN, each unit boasts a sunken lounge with fireplace showcasing an airy well designed space that opens out to the manicured gardens. The house has a fully fitted open plan American kitchen with breakfast counter, customizable pantry, service kitchen and utility area. Other features on the ground floor are an en-suite guest bedroom and a study room.

Rosslyn Springs Open Day invite

Rosslyn Springs, Lone tree road, Runda. Nairobi. Serene four bedroom townhouses.

Rosslyn Springs Open Plan Kitchen

Rosslyn Springs Open Plan Kitchen. Very spacious with granite work top.

A well-lit high ceiling staircase leads you to the first floor, comprising three all en-suite bedrooms, with the master bedroom having a private balcony. Driveways are cabro-paved and round the clock security is provided.
No expenses have been spared in these elegant homes, with ample parking provided for every home within the gated community, a twin servants’ quarter with kitchenette, an exclusive resident lounge overlooking a large swimming pool, gym and sauna facilities, CCTV surveillance, electric fencing, fully fitted alarm system, and intercom facilities. Finished with exquisite sanitary ware, wood blocks, ceramic tiles in wet areas, neatly finished gypsum ceilings and high quality elegant light fittings, Rosslyn Springs is the true definition of tranquility.

 

Surrounded by the Gigiri Forest and protected by a secure wall covering the complete Runda Estate, is Rosslyn Springs, a unique development of 4 bedroom townhouses with 3 distinctive concepts. The idyllic development presents prospective home owners a choice of unique homes, each designed to meet the specifications of the discerning home buyer.

Rosslyn Springs brief description

A brief overview of Rosslyn Spring’s features

All houses are en suite and located close to United Nations, Gigiri in a highly secure neighborhood, surrounded by various diplomatic missions that include the UNEP, WFP as well as the United States and Canadian embassies.

 

Explaining the development’s allure Daniel Ojijo, CEO of Villacare Limited, the sole marketing agent of the property, asserts that ‘Rosslyn Springs seamlessly merges serene country living with the upscale intricacies of an urban setting’ and rightly so.

These are without doubt must- have, beautiful townhouses with the added advantage of being conveniently located to support developments including the Northern Bypass, Village Market, Windsor Golf Club, Muthaiga Golf Club and the Karura Forest.

Spacious sitting room

The grand sitting room of Rosslyn Springs

The community utilities are provided by private companies, such as water that is provided by Runda Water Limited.

Villa Care Contact information

The Marketing Agent and Project Managers

The area is well served with educational institutions, with Rosslyn Academy, German School, Kitisuru Boys High School, Kirawa Road School, White Cottage School, International School of Kenya and Gigiri Kindergarten all nearby. Offering all these and more, Rosslyn Springs is undoubtedly a luxurious development that offers high- class living complimented with convenience. Rosslyn Park is a development of energy generator KENGEN.

Feel free to virtual tour of Rosslyn Springs, click here

 

 

LEGAL RECOURSE IN DEMOLITION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY BY GOVERNMENT

Nine years ago property owners along Thika Road lost their fortunes when both commercial and residential developments were flattened to pave way for the construction of the Kshs 30 billion Thika Superhighway. Even before the dust settled on the demolitions, buildings in Kisumu came tumbling as the bulldozers made way for the construction of the Kshs 14.8 billion Mau Summit on the Kericho Kisumu Road.

Construction Villa care

Road Construction

Such scenes have become common place in the Kenya with hardly a day passing without heart wrenching stories in the media of unforgiving bulldozers bringing down in no time what has taken years to build.

While the jury is still out on who is to blame between the Kenya government and the property investors as far as demolition of private property is concerned, industry pundits are in agreement that the government must adequately compensate registered property owners whose investments are acquired or demolished for development.

Under the law, registered property owners whose investments would be affected by public developments are protected by the Kenya Constitution. The Bill of Rights under Article 40 of the Supreme Law provides for protection of right to private property. Matthew Wokabi, a Property lawyer at Sikh and Karinga advocates however argues that while government has a duty to fully compensate property owners of demolished property, they have to show that they are the lawful and rightful owners of the said properties.

“In Kenya the land is either held under freehold which means it has a title deed, or on leasehold meaning the holder has a lease. Those are the two instances under which a land owner can seek compensation, however in certain circumstances compensation may be paid to the occupants in good faith,” he said. Prof. Doreen Wambua, another Property lawyer and a legal consultant for major property investments across East Africa advices property investors whose properties are compulsorily acquired that compensation is no simple affair. She advises property developers to seek the services of a certified valuer who would rate the property at the existing market rates and have the valuation report ready after receiving demolition notice.

“This is because during compensation, government always goes with existing market rates once they decide to demolish your property. The aggrieved who feel that the government compensation is below expectations have recourse in the High Court,” Prof Wambua said.

But while this recourse has worked over time, provisions in the constitution allow government to acquire private property for specific public purposes, subject to the prompt payment of compensation. While citizens can use the courts for redress, the law does not require the government to engage the public in the decision to acquire land, only for establishing who is eligible for compensation and for the proposed development on the acquired land through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.

The case of Runda property owners and the government is such a pointer. About 296 families were rendered homeless after the High Court ordered partial demolition of the gated community to create room for the construction of the 21-kilometre Northern Bypass corridor.

The protracted court case that pitted Runda residents, Lands and Roads ministries, Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Urban Roads Authority and the Attorney-General involved the width of the road reserve adjacent to the palatial houses.

The residents insisted that the road’s width was 60 metres as per the Lands Ministry records, the government argued that it was 80 metres as delineated on November 20, 1970.

The petitioners had urged the court to declare that their rights, individually or in association with others to acquire and own property, were being violated as guaranteed by Article 40 of the Constitution.

While making the ruling Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi argued that public interest supersedes individual’s right to property. “In the two petitions before me, I don’t see any violation or limitation of the residents’ right to property. In my view, the residents are unwitting victims of landowners who sold the properties to them without having regard to the public interest. While I appreciate the large investments that have gone into the construction of the residential houses and sympathize with the situation of the owners, I believe their recourse in legal claim is against those who sold land to them,” read the judge’s ruling.

Kentmere Apartments Killeshwa

KEY TO TOMORROW’S HOME

With the rise of exclusive residential developments in the last few years, inclusion of more appealing features that satisfy the needs of potential and actual buyers continues to become the norm today. These features range from piped gas, Jacuzzis to escalators and high-speed lifts.

 

Recent research has indicated that Kenya’s upper middle class is now driving the economy. In general, this Western influenced class drives the sleekest cars, sports the latest designer apparel. Not to be left behind are the new weds, who are now relying heavily on domestic workers to take care of their young ones, as they pursue evening classes or work overtime to improve and maintain their lifestyles. Newly constructed houses, especially apartments should incorporate the idea of a day care centre. These centres will meet the needs of the upper middle class.
Sophisticated as they may seem, their growing children need an environment that is conducive and secure. Following the thoughts of Jean Piaget on child development, ‘children construct an understanding of the world around them, and then experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment.’ Largely speaking, the underlying principle here is that the environment in which the child is growing in, will definitely determine his future personality. These day care centres should employ the services of professional matrons who are able to attend to children’s needs in the absence of their parents.

 

This in turn assists their busy parents get more productive in their work, as their minds are focused on the immediate task without the burden of full time care of their children. A major advantage of these centres is children learn in as homely an environment as possible. They are near their places of residences, which also make it easy for the child to access school without having to rise too early. It is also easier to offer security as the learning environment falls within the confines of the child’s residential space. In gated communities, access is limited to known residents, or strangers, who only gain admission after producing proper identification, a basic of security checks.

 

This creates peace of mind for parents, as cases of kidnapping are among the dangers that are instantly minimized. Teachers can also offer personalized attention to their wards, as enrollment numbers are small. An example of this is New South Wales, Australia, where the law does not permit student numbers exceeding 40.

Other factors as learning in a tranquil environment devoid of external noise are easy to offer in this setup. Setting up of children gardens, from where the concept of kindergarten hails, is easier, providing the optimal environment for the young ones to thrive. More playtime is also possible, as the school environment is merely a continuation of the child’s play time at home.

 

Statistics from America show that approximately 3 percent of the school-age population was homeschooled in the 2011–12 school years. Among homeschooled children, a higher percentage was White (68 percent) then Black (8 percent), Hispanic (15 percent), and Asian or Pacific Islander (4 percent).

MORTGAGES IN KENYA

Mortgages in Kenya fall under two types:

Nyari House

Nyari House

1. FIXED RATE MORTGAGES
The borrower owes a percentage of the loan as interest. This amount never changes and remains constant over the life of the loan.

2. VARIABLE/ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGES
In this type of loan, changes in the credit market are reflected in the repayment rates. Equal repayments are made on a reducing balance. Part of the interest rate risk is transferred from the lender to the borrower. Variable rate mortgages are widely used where fixed rate funding is difficult to obtain or prohibitively expensive.
There are several factors that broadly define the characteristics of mortgages in Kenya and elsewhere globally. These may include;

Kentmere Valley

Kentmere Valley

• INTEREST
This is what banks gain from the loan from the repayments made. Interest may be fixed over the life of the loan or it may be variable, changing at certain predetermined periods. It may rise or it may fall, depending on existing market conditions.

• PREPAID AMOUNTS
Some lenders will limit or restrict prepayment of part or the entire loan. If the borrower decides to prepay, then he may also pay a penalty to the lender for the prepayment.|

• AMOUNT AND FREQUENCY OF PAYMENT
In some cases, lenders may offer the borrower an option to increase or decrease the amount paid, without incurring penalties. The amount paid per period is variable.

• PERIOD OF THE LOAN
This refers to the time period the loan is lent out for. The borrower may be required to pay the entire amount after that lapsed time period. He may also be required to pay a certain amount at the end of some predetermined period.

Mortgage Finance Institutions

Housing Finance, Standard Chartered Bank, Jamii Bora, Kenya Commercial Bank, Family Bank, Barclays Bank and Many more other institution offer the service

CHINA FIRM PLANS TO BUILD MOST EXPENSIVE LUXURY APARTMENTS

Nairobi’s Kileleshwa estate will soon have the most expensive apartments in Kenya.

Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic) has been given the green light to construct four-bedroom luxury apartments that will each cost Sh88 million.

Within the same development, Avic will also construct two- and three-bedroom units each going for Sh27 million and Sh38 million respectively. The total cost of the housing project is Sh4 billion.AVIC PIC

The residential development will have a total of 110 apartments following licensing by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).

“This project is for the construction of a block of apartments with three basement floors and 11 typical upper floors having a total of 110 apartment units, associated amenities and facilities and amenities,” said the licence by Nema.

The residential development, which will be called Avic Park, is expected to be completed within 24 months.

Villa Care, the selling agents, says that Avic is putting up the high-end apartments as a market response to demand for luxury apartments which has been influenced by expatriates of multinationals that are choosing to set up their regional or Africa offices in Nairobi.

“This is the most expensive and largest for the whole market. The developers Avic are known for large projects and high quality finishes,” said Villa Care managing director Daniel Ojijo.

The apartments are intended to beat the records of other luxury apartments in a city that has seen many property developments in the recent years.

“Due to the recent increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) and the entry of multinationals into various sectors of the East African economy, there is a clear need for both high quality residential and commercial real estate in the region’s capital, Nairobi,” said Villa Care in a statement.

Swimming pools, basement parking and gyms are other facilities that will be included at Avic Park.

 

For State-owned Avic, the Kileleshwa-based Sh4 billion project will be the smallest publicly announced investment in its property portfolio.

In July, Avic announced that it was investing Sh20 billion to construct a 43-storey office block, apartment blocks, and a five-star hotel on a 7.5 acre plot in Westlands, Nairobi.

 

NAIROBI’S PREFERRED ADDRESS : KENTMERE VALLEY KILELESHWA

KENTMERE VALLEY, KILELESHWA

We are pleased to announce its premier development of elegant 4 bedroom apartments and penthouses located on Githunguri Road in the Kileleshwa suburb of Nairobi.

The apartments, dubbed “The Preferred Address” built in the fast growing urban locality, overlook the scenic Arboretum Forest and offer a tranquil and serene living environment for the discerning home owner who would like a home in close proximity to the Central Business District while still enjoying the luxuries of a sophisticated apartment in the city.

With the demand for decent housing on the rise by the day, and the Kenyan economy being majorly driven by the upper middle class, the need for affordable housing that meets the needs of the family, exceeds standards and appeals to the well versed Kenyan is of great appeal.

Kentmere Valley Apartments are designed with precise attention to luxury and space. Highlighting strong architectural elements, the apartments are an ideal showcase of design at its utmost element with warm accents across the rooms. The apartments are designed with a coastal feel with the balconies overlooking beautiful lawns, built to encourage relaxation and comfort.

With convenient proximity to schools, shopping centers, hospitals and other social amenities, Kentmere Valley Apartments offer unrivaled spacious and modern 4 bedroom apartments and penthouses with 4 bathrooms with large airy kitchens with utility area. Each house offers a spacious lounge and balcony with an uninterrupted view of State House Gardens and the Arboretum. The houses encompass a spacious master bedroom with an inbuilt walk in closet.

Finishes incorporate ceramic tiles and granite worktops in the kitchen.

The apartments are Kshs. 30 Million and penthouses are being sold at a cost of Kshs. 45 Million.

From Kentmere, one can easily access superb recreational facilities and other social amenities in the Westlands area like The Sarit Center, Nakumatt Ukay, Uchumi Super Market, Naivas Supermarket, Agakhan Hospital westlands, The Royal Orchird Hotel, the KFC Westkands, numerous banks, Schools like Agakhan nursery school, Westlands primary school, Visa Oshwal Primary school, Consolata School , Premier Academy and much more.

Extras include: borehole, swimming pool, ample parking, and perimeter wall with electric fence, CCTV, and generator for common areas.

Villa Care will be hosting an exclusive event at Kentmere Valley from 11th – 13th September, 2015 on Kileleshwa, along Githunguri Road.

Kentmere Apartments Killeshwa

The Preferred Address

To watch the virtual tour, click here

NAVIGATING LAND BUYING

Land

Land buying in Kenya is a tedious and tricky process. Many have burnt their fingers trying to procure land.

Buyers have fallen victim to conniving land brokers, corrupt land officials at the Ministry of Lands and at the hands of two-timing owners. Even the lawyers you are supposed to trust have been known to be manipulative and two-faced.

The good news is, the land buying process is now a straightforward process and you no longer have to deal with unscrupulous land brokers if you follow the right procedure. After you have identified the parcel of land you would like to purchase, your next stop should be at the Lands Registry, for a search. This helps to confirm the registered name of the land or property you want to purchase. When doing a search, ensure you have copies of the seller’s National ID plus a copy of the Title Deed. The search results take 24 hours and should have the names of the owner, as they appear on the person’s national Identity Card. The search also gives you the exact position of the land as well as the acreage. A search will typically set you back Kshs 500. After you are satisfied with the search results, it is time to engage an advocate who will help you draft a sale agreement that stipulates the mode of payment, the exact amount agreed and duration the two parties want the transaction to extend. “Legally, a property transaction must be completed within 90 days unless the two parties agree otherwise,” says Ayodo.

While some parties may agree to pay cash, others agree on paying a deposit, followed by installments, all depending on the preferences of the two parties. It is your advocate’s duty to check and ensure that land rent or rate has been paid before closing the deal. Land rent is payable to the Central Government, while Land

Rate is paid to the County Government. The Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development gives a certificate of clearance to indicate that this is paid up. Ensure that after signing the sale agreement, the document is properly stamped to make it legally binding. Your next step is transfer of documents. You are required to fill a transfer form from the Ministry of Lands. Your advocate is supposed to prepare a transfer document, which the seller’s advocate should approve.

As a buyer, the documents you should expect from the seller include the original title deed, a copy of the seller’s certified ID, copies of their KRA pin certificate, three passport sized photos of the seller, land rent clearance certificate, rates clearance certificate as well as the consent to transfer form, the latter should have been signed by the seller. All these documents are to be taken to the Ministry along with the duly filled transfer forms. Stamp duty is the revenue paid to the government during a land transaction.

The buyer pays stamp duty to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), whenever land changes ownership. Stamp Duty is paid when taking the transfer form to the Ministry of Lands. “In urban areas, the stamp duty is four per cent of the value of the land while in rural areas, the duty is two per cent of the land value,” says Ayodo. “After the transaction is complete, the title deed should return with the name of the buyer,” says Ayodo. The final process of a land transaction is the registration of the transfer documents in favor of the land buyer. While the process of buying land seems foolproof and straightforward, it is important to realize that fraudsters are always prowling for gullible buyers to con. “For instance, when they realize that Person X owns land in South C, they will make fake Identity Cards with Person X’s name and photograph. When the buyer asks for the ID, they will gladly give you the fake ID and the search results will come out with the name of the rightful owner.

You will only realize that you have been conned after the fraudsters take off with your money,” says Ayodo.

In most cases, fraudsters will insist that the buyer pays in cash. A smart lawyer will insist that the payment be through a banker’s cheque that is traceable, or through an electronic funds transfer. Fraudsters also work with people at the Ministry of Lands to alter names from the title deeds. You are highly advised to desist from purchasing land without a title deed. “A Title Deed shows that the land is registered and where it appears in the map of the Ministry of Lands,” says the advocate. You can buy land that has a lease and not a title deed, as most plots within town are leased. A lease can expire after 30 or 99 years depending on the arrangement. While a lease is renewable at the Ministry of Lands, a title deed shows absolute ownership. So how do you determine the validity of a title deed? The truth is, you cannot really determine the validity of a title deed, but if you went for a search and the Ministry gave you fake search results, then it will be up to the State to compensate you.