Saved the air fare dollars, I’ll do it for you
Posted Thursday, May 10 2012 at 00:00
Jane Gidali had everything going for her. Having secured a posh job in Dubai and Egypt, she was finally making the money she had always dreamed.
However, she longed to return home to Kenya and live out her sunset years in the land of her birth.
For this to happen, she needed to invest in real estate: get some land and build her own home or buy a readymade house.
And that is where she hit a snag. First, she wanted to obtain current and accurate information about the state of real estate in Kenya to help her make up her mind, but she got “very scanty information”.
After a long search, she eventually came across the National Housing Corporation (NHC) website that had pictures of property for sale.
Jane selected her dream house and then started the transaction. Luckily for her, the NHC website offered the option of making online payments.
“I did everything online and had to make only one visit to Kenya to view my purchase,” Ms Gidali, a marketer, says.
Like Ms Gidali, many Kenyans living and working abroad are often faced with lack of adequate and reliable information they need to make the right decisions to invest back home.
“My experience abroad taught me that there is a real need to provide reliable information to Kenyans in the diaspora who are seeking to invest back in the country,” says Ms Gidali.
According to the Central Bank, Kenyans in the diaspora injected Sh8.8 billion ($106.2 million) into the Kenyan economy in March this year. This is the highest figure the CBK has recorded since it started tracking diaspora remittances in 2006.
The report reveals that Kenyans living abroad send money home to help their families and for investment in various sectors, including real estate. Real estate appears to be the most preferred investment choice for most Kenyans living and working abroad.
In its Prime International Residential Index released recently — which listed Nairobi and the Kenyan Coast as the fastest growing real estate markets in the world — Knight Frank noted that Kenya’s rapid economic development is attracting domestic and international private equity, with particular growth in remittances flowing from Kenya’s increasingly affluent diaspora.
But according to analysts, lack of adequate information on investment opportunities is still a major drawback to this group.
Mr Paul Ngotho, the managing director of Ngotho Property Consultants Ltd, says Kenyans in the diaspora find it “pretty difficult” to get information they can rely on to make investment decisions.
“When it comes to information dissemination, the local market is extremely inefficient. People in the developed world have high expectations but local financiers and other service providers don’t meet those expectations,” says Mr Ngotho.
Fortunately, some people have noticed this gap and are striving to fill it. And providing real estate information seems to be top in the scheme of things.
Ms Gidali, for instance, recently helped launch a website (buyrentkenya.com), which provides real estate information to prospective property owners.
Although it is open to everyone seeking to buy or rent, Ms Gidali, who is the company’s sales account manager, says they particularly have Kenyans in the diaspora in mind.