Value add the latest strategy in cash strapped real estate sector

Username investments augment her properties with a perimeter fence, estate gate, graded access roads, water and electricity making them ready for immediate development to woo more customers

BY ANTONY MUTUNGA

The local youth are facing a tough time where unemployment and lack of credit have crippled most opportunities to better their living standards. 

With formal employment not offering enough chances to serve their growing population, a majority have ended up in the informal sector. 

As a result, many of the youth have put aside any thoughts of investing in a home or in a plot. The growing real estate sector has remained a dream for many, even though the interest to invest is there. Earning minimum wages, some do not save much and others don’t save at all, making it difficult to think of becoming homeowners. 

Even for those in the formal sector, the idea of investing in real estate has been held off for future dates. Higher education loans popularly known as HELB, and growing living expenses have hindered them from pursuing homeownership.

To attract this group to invest in the real estate sector has been a major challenge for a majority of firms. Henceforth, there was a need to change strategy and offer the youth something they can afford. 

To attract the group to start investing at an early date, Username investment, a growing Kenyan real estate firm formed in 2013, has been offering affordable properties to those aged between 20 and 40 years. The firm is focussed on opening up the once inaccessible property market.  

According to Reuben Kimani, CEO of Username Investments, there is a need for more affordable housing especially for the population in the low and middle-income segments. This is because they have been left out, as they can’t afford the properties worth millions being offered in the market.

“Due to the existence of unaffordable properties in the market, our company targets the population in the low and middle-income segments by offering high potential and affordable land with prices as low as Sh149, 000 during this season to the current and upcoming generations,” Reuben Kimani said during the launch of their new head office at Le’Mac building in Westlands.

Apart from offering affordable housing to the youth, real estate firms also need to market their products on the right platforms. In this digital era, everything has moved online. To attract people especially the youth, the best platform to find the majority is the Internet particularly on social media. As more and more youth are joining the likes of Facebook and Twitter, so must real estate firms invest in marketing using these sites.

Username is an example of how investing much time to connect with their customers through websites and social media has assisted them to grow in the industry. The company has been able to attract more customers through its Facebook account where its employees are always available to tackle any issues customers need to enquire. Additionally, the company also has a website where customers can identify their projects as well as the prices. 

“The website gives investors an opportunity to navigate through our various projects and select the most suitable property,” said Mr Kimani. The company has indeed embraced the online platforms towards attracting and reaching out to their customers because in business the customer is always king.

The firm has also invested in attracting Kenyans from the diaspora by traveling overseas and offering sufficient information on the investment opportunities

In addition, the company has also focussed on ensuring they deliver to their customers as well as add value to their products. Cases of people selling fraudulent properties have been on the rise in the country, and this has seen many shy off from investing in the sector. Real estate firms have found it difficult to attract customers. To curb this, firms have added value to their products so as to entice customers. For example, Username investments has ensured that its properties are value-added with a perimeter fence, estate gate, graded access roads, water and electricity making them ready for immediate development. 

Apart from that, the firm also offers promotions to motivate their existing customers. For instance, starting November to December 2019, any new customer who buys cash in any of their projects or any existing customer who completes their payments will qualify for a goat and enter a draw to win a holiday trip to Thailand, Mombasa and Maasai Mara which will be determined through a draw in January 2020.

Apart from attracting the youth, the firm has also invested in attracting Kenyans from the diaspora by traveling overseas and offering sufficient information on the investment opportunities. 

With cases of fraud high in the sector, many Kenyans living abroad are not certain on which investment to partake in. With remittances on the rise, making information on the investment opportunities available, other than on the websites, increases the chances of those in the diaspora to invest. As a result of this, Username investments accredit 30% of its annual revenue from those in the diaspora.

The population of the country is rising and more affordable housing is required especially in the urban areas. It is important to identify the needs of the customer in the sector and offer them exactly that. 

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