You have probably come across them. It’s not difficult to identify them; they are either measuring your walls with a tape measure, trying to determine your boundaries or asking you to accompany them as they go through your house.
Welcome to valuation, the profession of those who studied land economics, or a Bachelor of real estate, as it is now called.
With the continued global transformation that is altering the way many professions operate, the Kenyan valuer is worried about the future. The following are the 10 top challenges facing the valuation fraternity:
Information: Land is an emotive subject in Kenya, with information regarding land closely guarded. Without a centralised source of information regarding property values, it is difficult to get information on property prices.
The market value is largely guided by comparable market rates that are not easy to come by, with such information closely guarded, largely to avoid taxes.
So the valuer has to rely on other methods to compute value, although the market approach remains the most relevant in the local property market.
Records: Land records at the ministry and the survey department are either missing or outdated. Some of these physical records are deliberately tampered with, making it difficult for valuers to do their work.
Is it any wonder then, that valuers are anxiously waiting for the digitisation of land records?
Security: A valuer works in the field, and apart from a tape measure, you are likely to find him with a Camera. With the current security situation, the valuer’s work has become even more difficult. With many buildings today carrying the warning,
“Photography not allowed”, what is he supposed to do when a client insists that photographs must be attached to a report yet he is not allowed to take photographs?
Corruption: Perhaps the biggest problem to the profession is corruption. Government institutions and banks comprise the valuer’s main clients. However, these institutions have become the his worst nightmare.
Bank credit managers demand “cuts” from the valuer’s fees before giving him work, and many actually dictate what the valuer should report. Valuers often also have to grease the palms of procurement managers.
Rigid market: In the local construction industry, only buildings made from brick and mortar are considered permanent. Anything else is classified as semi-permanent.
But with the introduction of alternative building materials and technologies, there is a need to change the perception of what is permanent. The valuer is finding it difficult to classify the emerging buildings when institutions that rely on his services have
Outdated knowledge: The institutions training valuers are not helping them address the changing trends. Consequently, valuers are finding themselves faced with unfamiliar technologies.
New building materials have emerged that valuers were never prepared for. They do not know how to face the gigantic, elaborately designed buildings coming up, leave alone the materials used to build them.
The legal landscape is also changing, so the valuer is faced with matrimonial property law that was non-existent when he studied property law at the university.
Global pressures: The wave of change that has made the world a global village is sweeping away mediocrity. Global players have entered the local market with up-to-date knowledge, sophisticated tools and efficient techniques, which risks rendering the
traditional Kenyan traditional irrelevant.
Unhealthy competition: The fees chargeable by a valuer are regulated by the law. This is aimed at protecting members of the public from exploitation and also protecting the profession.
But there is a serious, internal problem, with colleagues viciously undercutting each other. While competition should be based on expertise and quality of service delivered, these have been sacrificed on the altar of expediency.
Poor professional synergy: Valuers work closely with quantity surveyors, architects, engineers and land surveyors, but the Kenyan valuer operates in relative isolation.
Yet these other professionals can help him update his knowledge as well as manage the changing trends in the property market. The challenges posed by new construction materials, techniques and designs, costing, etc. would easily be handled is they worked together.
No career path: We are living in a world where we want everything immediately. However, there are things that cannot be rushed. For instance, The time it takes to ground a newly graduated valuer graduate be rushed.
Such graduates should be paired with experienced and well informed professionals who can mentor them.
But our mentality does not allow for mentoring young valuers and before they are grounded in the profession, they have already moved on to something else.
This, coupled with the fact that we have more graduates than firms that can absorb them, has created a major challenge. The unfortunate is that, whether one has experience or not, after two years, he can be absorbed and recognised as a valuer.
A clear professional path will be crucial to safeguard the principles of the profession.
Mr Mwangi is a registered valuer.