Starting April 2019 land registration process will take a record 12 days from the current 73 according to Lands Ministry Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney. Land registration process involves title deed search, registration of title deed, land rent clearance, clearance of land rates, consent of transfer clearance and requisition of file valuation. This automation will save land owners more than two months of conducting the process thus increasing the efficiency and reducing the associated costs.
While all Kenyans will benefit from this, the most advantaged group in this milestone are Kenyans living in the diaspora who have been hesitant on taking up land investment options available in the country due to lack of a digital platform to ascertain transparency in the general land records. They will now be able to individually conduct online searches and invest directly back home especially in real estate.
- Land registration process will increase efficiency and reduce associated costs incurred by investors.
- The cumulative remittance of Kenyans living in the diaspora had a 39 percent growth in 2018 compared to 2017 according to Central Bank of Kenya with a lion share channeled to real estate investment.
- Automation of land records coupled with innovative ways of purchasing property will increase the efficiency of making land investments.
The cumulative remittance of Kenyans living in the diaspora was Ksh 274.2 Billion in 2018 up from Ksh 197.9 Billion recorded in 2017, representing a 39 percent growth according to the Central Bank of Kenya. Among those sending money are individuals who are looking forward to invest individually. Automation of land processes will boost the confidence of investors who will now be able to conduct online due diligence after contacting their preferred investment partners and selecting a property.
Currently, land rate clearance and requisition of file valuation are completed online, while a search of title, consent to the transfer, title registration, payment of stamp duty which takes 4 days and assessment and endorsement of the deal in 4 days are partially automated. Site visitations and reporting take 20 days, while the remainder of the process is manual. Some of the processes will be lumped up to reduce the number of steps. This will see landowners and developers experience fewer delays in between the process. This means that the title deed processing duration will significantly reduce and investors will be able to develop their properties and settle or even resell in future.
Embracing this key milestone in the Ministry of Lands, Investment companies have come up with innovative ways to enable Kenyans living in diaspora to invest directly back home. A company such as Username Investments has an automated website that allows clients to book a plot online and make direct payment to their property of choice through the various payment options available.
For Kenyans living in diaspora it is easier for them to view the property online, make purchases and receive their title deeds through their preferred courier service. With digitization they will be able to conduct online title deed searches to ascertain that indeed they are real land owners of the property they purchased.
The real estate sector will soon realize full digitization from all quarters with the combined efforts of the private sector and the government. This sector accounts for about 9 percent of Kenya’s GDP, outperforming other asset classes in the past decade, incurring minimal losses while consistently generating returns of between 25 per cent and 30 per cent. Digitization will boost these returns by eliminating cartels and building the overall confidence of investing for both local and internal investors.
To make property investment even more attractive for Kenyans looking forward to settle their families this year, the company has recently focused on Kangundo Road an area that has the most affordable properties compared to other areas close to Nairobi. You will find a value added estate with a perimeter fence, estate gate, graded access roads, borehole water and electricity selling less than a million shillings a price that is all-inclusive price. Such a property has been made ready for immediate settlement.
In conclusion, automation of land records at the Registry coupled with innovative ways of purchasing property will increase the efficiency of making investments by Kenyans living in diaspora and are looking forward to settle their families.
By Reuben Kimani
The writer is the Chief Executive Officer, Username Investment Ltd.