MYTHS IN BUYING AND SELLING PROPERTY IN KENYA.
Myth No. 1.
Assumption that large Property Agents always have the latest portfolio of new property.
Large property Selling firms always have any new properties emerging for sale into the market.
Some people believe that large Property Agency firms have a portfolio of any new property in the market. This may result in people giving up if the large Property firms tell them that their desired property is not available in the market.
The best source of information for new property up for sale is in small time Agents and individual brokers. These usually get the information faster than the Larger Property firms. For instance, an individual or corporate body could be looking to buy an acre of land in Upper Hill . Their first point of reference will be in the 5 largest property Agencies. The highest chance is that these agencies will not have such land for sale. The individual or corporate will then believe that such a property is not available. If they were to also contact small agencies for the same, they would be surprised at the number of acres available for sale in the same region.
Myth No. 2.
Assumption that the Local Authority has approved the property construction.
People assume that once they buy a building after following due diligence, there can be no other risks pertaining to the property. There is a possibility of buying a building that has been condemned by the Local Authority for various reasons. Maybe the owner did not seek the Local Authority approvals while constructing . In such a scenario, maybe he or she constructed without adhering to Bye laws such as observation of building line setback or ground coverage. Such situations are remedied by demolition. The new owner will be surprised when the Local Authority come calling asking him or her to demolish.
Myth No. 3.
Assumption that property is always structurally sound.
People assume that once they buy a building, structural defects can not affect them.
Its quite common these days to meet people who bought houses then the walls and floors begin to crack soon after occupation. This results in complex legal arguments as to who is responsible. With the onset of the new Construction laws in Kenya, Building contractors for private houses will now be required to be registered by the Government hence ease of regulating them. Before this law, only Contractors doing Government works were required to be registered. This will assist the property owners to trace the contractors when such defects occur. The Best Practice internationally is that the contractor gives a 6 months warranty period for patent defects such as leaking roofs, blocked pipes, broken door frames and handles e.t.c. For Latent defects such as structural cracks, falling walls and roofs, sinking foundations e.t.c, the Best Practice is a 6 year liability period. Now with the current laws, it will be easier for property owners to have a recourse once such defects happen.
Myth No. 4.
Assumption that buildings last forever.
Buildings have a lifespan, usually 50 years depending on the type of materials used to construct.
Some people have bought buildings without carefully analyzing the materials. It’s possible to buy a building then discover that the walls are made of soil blocks hence a very short lifespan. It’s also possible to buy a building then discover that the roof trusses have all been eaten up by ants hence a very short roof lifespan. When buying a property, careful analysis as to the costs of renovation is important to avoid situations where you buy the property at a premium only for you to redo the whole complete house all over again.
Francis Gichuhi Kamau. Architect.