Category Archives: Kenya mortgages

Real Estate Moment: Not about Syokimau

I don’t own land outright, but I know people who do and have worked on some securities that relate to land. So here are are five trends in real estate deals that drive lead to good & bad outcomes

1. Not all land deals are equal: There is greed & fraud among buyers and officials including government (county & ministry) who will approve incorrect land & building transactions, valuers who will inflate property prices, contractors who will undercut on building materials & costs etc. There can be fraud anywhere, but mostly it is with developers who will score deal after deal and move on from a controversial piece of land. A good tip is to look out for prime, but idle or under-developed land (open parking lot, cheap Mabati (iron roof) pubs & eateries) – which mean that there’s probably a story there about ownership that deters those who know from investing too much in structures on the land. But such deals are the minority and should not deter people from investing in land. Note – these houses in Syokimau were being advertised at last month’s homes expo at a cost Kshs. 4.8 to 9.2 million.

2. Land is finite: Land is still one of the best investments, for the simple reason that its quantity is not increasing. It’s uses are changing with generations, migration and population changes resulting in different demands for land use (e.g. forest, agricultural or rural to residential, commercial or urban) but the amount of land available is the same (the rare reclamation of land by dredging notwithstanding)

3. Banks have failed: By banks being prudent as lending institutions, this has resulted in a situation where there are very few mortgages in the country – about 20,000. This means that (i) banks have not convinced Kenyans that they are perfect partners in the construction or purchase of houses (ii) people are building out of savings, other income or unsecured loans (iii) by not using a bank for land deals, buyers & builders miss out on the professional advice that could be helpful in the land buying process.
4. Herd Mentality: Investment group, savings club, SACCO’s and other collective vehicles have been popular ways to invest in land. They have worked with, or as developers themselves to scope out, purchase, sub-divide, and sell land to their members, and other interest parties.

Buyers then flock to these developments because groups and peers who have invested convey security and more so as word spread fast via ads in the newspaper, or whispers in bars and church. While initial investors in these schemes may have been quite cautious with calculated risks, later investors will have seen the value of plots (and their entry price) triple and watched as other members put finishing touches to lovely houses that they are still dreaming of – and this can lead to a temptation to rush in without doing the usual land checks. But what if the original land deal was fraudulent? Does anyone check for the mother title or original drawings & approvals? If they took a loan or paid for professionals to assist, they may find out that the deals were not as good.

5. The Government is not Stupid or Evil: The government creates and keeps records, and the government does not issue title deeds in a casual way. Many properties are built without a title deeds or without owners having got all approvals. But the government has an institutional memory and does not forget. You won’t sell a property without clearing arrears on land or paying stamp duty.

The government also does not forget that it owns land and as Syokimau owners found out the way, the government may sit idle, but it will act when it’s convenient or necessary. Legend has it that Ugandans soldiers discovered Migingo Island when checking for insecurity points ahead of the 2006 commonwealth summit (CHOGM), and now, while KAA has tolerated the Syokimau houses for years, now that the country is at war with Somalia, the proximity of the houses to Nairobi’s international airport (JKIA) may have escalated security concerns.

Real Estate Moment: Expo II, Land Bills, Timeshares

US$1 is ~ Kshs 100
A second homes took place in Nairobi over the weekend, and this came less than six months after the first in April. It seems unusual to have two expos in one year, but here’s a recap of some of the housing, appliance, banks, and other companies at the expo.

Banks: There were the usual mortgage providers there including Housing Finance (whose Treasure account comes with up to 50% discount at KWS parks and 10% at Jolly Roger, Village market, Gertrude hospital) who offer finance of up to 90% at a variable mortgage rate of 14% loan.

Other banks offering up to 90% included Standard Chartered and National Bank. NBK and Barclays both give loans of up to 20 years for individuals (NBK at 13%, BBK at 14%). A recent entrant in the mortgage sector is Family Bank who also launched m-kodi, which is a way for tenants & property owners to make and process rent payments by mobile phone. CBA and Family Bank also give mortgages of up to 25 years, and for Kenyans in the diaspora, Family will give mortgages of up to 15 years for 90% property finance.

Properties Nairobi – Le Mac was introduced at the earlier expo as a 24-storey tower complex with apartments, malls, shops, offices, bank, restaurant, gym on Waiyaki Way and Mark Properties are only selling studio apartments for Kshs. 12.7 million, 1 bedrooms for Kshs. 16 and 2 bedroom apartments for Kshs. 21M
– The gateway 3BR apartments in Kileleshwa for Kshs 14.9M starting in December 2011 with 20% offer, 80% on completion from Bluebell
– Long-standing properties that have featured at a few expo’s include Jacaranda Gardens on Thika Road which have 2BR for Kshs 6.6M and 3BR for Kshs 7.6M and another at Phenom Estate IV in Langata (controversially located near Wilson airport), and Sidai Village with 3BR maisonettes costing Kshs 6.5M from Chigwell Holdings

Nairobi OutskirtsAthi View on Syokimau cost Kshs. 4.8 to 9.2M are just off Mombasa Rd. (by SJR Properties), Skyline Apts,which are 3BR off Airport North Rd that cost Kshs 5.8M, and Twiga Hills in Ongata Rongai which are 3BR apts. for Kshs 6M (also have 2BR ones). Also in Kitengela, there are 1/8 acre plots from Optiven that range from Kshs 0.5M (Silver gardens) to Kshs 0.98M (Imani gardens) with immediate financing from Equity Bank.

Coast: The Baobab Development Group has been pushing fractional ownership of an upcoming property in Malindi as luxury apartments at a ‘affordable’ cost of Kshs 2.5 million (time share properties are new in Kenya). Also Sunset Paradise apartments (700M from Serena Beach) are selling 2BR for Kshs. 7M ($80k), and the 3 BR and 4BR are in two sizes with the larger of each costing Kshs. 10.2M ($140k) and Kshs. 11.9M ($160k) respectively.

Gated properties: News ones included Iluluwe golf estate development in Athi River, now offering an 1/8 acre is Kshs 0.95M and 1/4 acre at Kshs 1.8M and Longonot Gate which will be at the foot of Mt. Longonot and now have 200 1/2 acre plots going for Kshs 3.5 million (later 4M). Buyers will also become members of a Kingdom golf club in the gated resort city at Longonot.

Interiors, Finishes, Appliances: There was also companies like Mabati for roofing choices, Flamingo for floor tiles Solaris for water heaters, Chloride Exide for solar water systems and power backups

Elsewhere: Knight Frank, at the expo or in the newspapers, had Windsor Green in the Mbuya suburb of Kampala for sale starting from $76,800 upwards and they and are also offering 7 acres near Wilson Airport, Nairobi for Kshs 100 million.

Land Ownership: The Government of Kenya’s Ministry of Lands has published draft land bills for public discussion. Matters of interest include spousal rights, pastoralist rights, partitioning, appeals processes, use of land, and notes that the land registrar shall make information in the register accessible to the public by electronic means, among many other changes.

Real Estate Moment

The 13th edition of the Kenya Homes expo is going on at KICC Nairobi this weekend. Here’s recap of that and other real estate on-goings. It seems larger than last year with more properties on display, along with energy, interior finishing, communication, insurance and media companies as well as several mortgage banks. Also some properties advertised last year were still on sale.

Expo: Some notable property developments included;
– Trident Park in Langata (behind Splash/Carnivore) 4 bedroom (4br) , all en-suite homes that cost Kshs 15.5 million [Kshs 15.5M or $193,000] (Trident Estates)
– Diamond Park in South C which are 4br maisonettes that cost Kshs 12M (Diamond Park)
– Tamarind Meadows are 3br maisonettes located in Mlolongo/Athi River with prices ranging from Kshs .6.5m – 9M (Tamarind Properties)
– The 3rd phase of Greenspan Housing estate of 3br maisonettes in Donholm/Umoja that cost Kshs 8.5M (brochure says that some houses sod in phase 1 have achieve rental of Kshs 45,000 [$560] per month) (Greenspan Housing)
– Residential plots sold by Ndatani Enterprises in Kitengela can range from Kshs 500,000 – 900,000 ($11,000)
Le Mac is a planned 24 story tower complex with apartments, malls, shops, offices, bank, restaurant, gym on Waiyaki Way, Westlands that was launched by the vice president a few weeks ago. Offices and showroom will cost 15,500 per square foot , while apartments that will include studios, 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms will cost 16,500 per square foot – translating to Kshs 12.6M for 1br to Kshs 56M ($700,000) for a 4br duplex. (Mark Properties)

Financiers: at the Expo were the usual banks present including Housing Finance, Barclays, KCB, and Standard Chartered.
Barclays loans start at 12% up to 20 years and 90% of home cost, or 70% of construction costs and they buy mortgages finance by other banks. A Kshs 10M loan taken over 10 years has repayment of Kshs 143,413, and over 20 years has monthly repayments of 110,039
EDITCBA: Mortgages are payable over 25 years, and (they say) you can accelerate and pay off an entire home loan without being penalized.
KCB has mortgages up to 25 years and rates are 13.75% and finance 90% of mortgages for salaries people homes in urban areas, 70% for plots, and 85% for estate development. A Kshs 10M loan taken over 10 years has monthly repayments of 152,274, and over 20 years attracts a monthly payment of 120, 737
Housing Finance had their Makao Homes which are pre-designed homes they can build for anyone with a piece of land and range from a 2br bungalow that costs 1 million ($12,500)(ideal for 1/16 acre) to 4br maisonettes ideal for ¼ or ½ acre that cost 13.3 million ($166,000). A Kshs 10M loan attracts repayments of 155,266 over 20 year and 124,352 over 20 years.

– Other finance from Houising Finance, includes plot purchase (70%), for investment groups (70%), for commercial office space/shops development (65%), as well as finance for incomplete or stalled projects.

They were joined by newcomers including;

National Bank of Kenya
CFC Stanbic who last week launched a 100% mortgage facility.
I&M Bank – pay lesser amounts in initial years and higher amount in later years as your income grows (you think?), all loans have free credit card and free fire insurance. Loans are at 12, 14 and 16% and range from Kshs 2M -30M to finance up to 80% of property price with a maximum of 15 years. The brochure also indicates all the typical home closing costs – e.g. a Kshs 10M mortgage will attract valuation fee if 10,000, 1% on disbursement (100,000), processing of 0.5% (50,000), legal fee of 1% (100,000) for a total of about 3% (home buyers are advised to budget 5%)

Other: – The Sameer Business Park has started leasing this week; it initially looked like white elephant its now available through property agents Knight Frank .

Via @azthedance – This article by Brendan Barron titled Arrest this Development? points to some disparities in the sector such as;

The country’s average wage is somewhere around $4,500 a year, but the average mortgage was more than 12 times that, at $56,000.
– Nairobi currently has no urban plan
– There’s also no real Building Code to which technicians can refer to ensure new homes meet standards. There are, simply, no enforced standards.

Edit: Here’s a nice series of articles in the Business Daily by analyst and columnist Carol Musyoka, first on Kenyans obsession with owning property and a follow up on the
investment risk of owning property, which has this paragraph.

Given where today’s interest rates are at say 15 per cent, an average middle income house costing Sh10 million, will require a monthly mortgage payment of approximately Kshs126,000 after the buyer puts down a deposit of Sh1 million or 10 per cent on the 15 year mortgage. This is not an amount that is easily payable by the average Kenyan worker and requires a great amount of sacrifice on the part of the buyer, especially where the rent for a similar house would be about Sh40,000 or a third of the mortgage payment.

The fact is that buying your own home is really not supposed to be an investment, rather it is a method of providing future security for yourself by having home ownership at the end of the mortgage period.

Real Estate Moment

Homes Expo: There was also another real estate expo at Sarit Centre last week – and some of the price ranges observed included

– Two bedroom apartments in kahawa are Kshs 5 – 6M
– 3 bedroom in kileleshwa/kilimani Kshs 16 – 17M ($200,000)
– 3 br Athi River are Kshs 5 – 7 million ($70,000 – $90,000)

Other property prices of interest seen there, and also away from the expo include
Tatu City and other ongoing developments like Migaa and Thika Greens which are modern estate communities that encompass shopping malls, schools, community centres, club house, sporting facilities/golf course, medical centres etc.
– From Regent – twelve (12) units of 2-br flats in Umoja for Kshs 16 million ($200,000)
– New office space in the Nairobi area ranges from Kshs 10,000 to 15,000 per square foot – and at Morningside it’s 12,000 per sq foot ($150/sq.ft)
– In the newspapers was a 9-storey building for sale, which is located in the central business district of Nairobi with 99 year lease, is fully leased, and brings in annual income of Kshs 20 million ($250,000)
– From Kenya Valuers are some of the priciest real estate prices seen including; an acre of land in Kilimani for sale at Kshs 180M ($2.25 million) and another at Kshs 225M ($2.8 million), a 4=br house in Muthaiga for Kshs 150M, a 6-Br in Windsor for Kshs 180M, and a 5-br in Runda that rents for $7k/month.

Mortgage report: Was released by the World bank and Kenya’s Central Bank – and it showed that KCB and Housing Finance are the leading banks in the sector with about 4,000 mortgages worth Kshs. 17 billion ($212 million) each . Barclays have 742, CBA 238, Prime 651 and First Community with 157 – which presumably offers only sharia complaint products. Mortgages rates average at 14% up from 12.5% in 2006 – and there were 6,000 new mortgages in 2009 up from 1200 in 2006.

Developers Club: KCB Kenya’s largest bank and leading mortgage company has a developers club for local developers and held a session this week in Nairobi.

Some Highlights
– Mumo Musuva, an architect with Planning Systems talked about this being a very exciting time for Nairobi, currently ranked No. 102 in the large cities of the world with a population of 4 million and which is projected to become No. 73 with a population of 8 million – and with 60% of the country population below the age of 30.
– He’s also lead developer with Tatu City and they are going to use digital management & GIS, detect when someone leaves a tap open, cut off the utilities of tenant who don’t pay, collect rates and deploy that to infrastructure etc.
– He lamented the low quality of most real estate buildings & projects in Nairobi as developers have been chasing quick returns (ROI) – these will change to world standards including environmental designs as the requirements of working with large tenants are evolving.
– The definition of real estate is changing from owing a house or building to it being seen as a commodity – and this is evidenced with the current investment for speculative purposes and eventual roll-out of REIT’s.
– There are massive opportunities for developers in Rwanda, Uganda, south Sudan which KCB can finance.
– They also launched a new KCB property guide will feature developers. The bank also expanded its mortgage offerings (available at their 168 branches), to loans for Kenyans in the Diaspora at 7% in foreign currency as well plot & purchase construction loan – unlike with previous arrangement where one had to pay off a plot loan before commencing construction
– The developers forum which has 300 arranges fact finding trips abroad to China, and possibly South Africa, & Brazil – and Joe Mungai of Tamarind Properties advised any developers to take such trips before embarking on any large projects to learn concepts like construction for low end housing, waste treatment & gated communities.

REIT’s: The Capital Market’s Authority (CMA) is undertaking a review of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT regulations ) & rules that formulated they in 2009. They will get feedback from developers and real estate institutions on product demand, tax rules. D/L is March 25 2011

Bank Enforcement CYA

The Finance Act 2010 is now available at

It covers a lot of grey area generated by the Central Banks of Kenya’s (CBK) handling of the Grand Regency sale and the Charterhouse Bank closure, and gives powers and direction that provide some legal safe cover (but not retroactively).

It requires funds recovered by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to go to the Government’s Consolidated Fund (78) and gives CBK powers to (peek and) take action at a bank based on (a banks’ own) auditor report (66) and specifies harsher actions that may be taken against banks who violate share capital limits (67).

Other provisions:
– Banks can lend up to 40% of balance sheet to real estate (up from 25%)
– Beer prices up 20%
– Copyright inspectors can summon police officers to arrest piracy offenders (77)
– Abandoned vehicle number plates should be submitted to Government for cancelation (40)