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Why we must regulate real estate developers



Why we must regulate real estate developers

The sorry state of Nairobi’s Pipeline Estate. [Dennish Ochieng, Standard]

It is an inherent duty of any government to protect its citizens, even the most ignorant. We are past the debate on whether Kenyans are gullible or not on matters real estate.

We are remarkably gullible when buying real estate property and even that is probably an understatement. We have refused to learn and our common sense is frozen when we see a property billboard.

We astonishingly make the same mistakes over and over, year after year, while buying property.

So, is there is light on the horizon? The government must step in to protect us from the wolves.

It is grotesque that we failed to regulate the crux player in the construction and real estate industry. Other professionals are well regulated through an Act of Parliament and even the emerging ones are on course to being regulated.

Contractors are housed at the National Construction Authority, lawyers and surveyors have been regulated for decades now.

Yet, the person that pays these people is not accountable to any regulation.

According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Survey (KNBS), the construction and real estate industry jointly contributes about 12.4 per cent of Kenya’s GDP. This is a significant sector, yet we seem to allow anyone to walk in it as a developer.

Under the shield of capitalism this sounds good and democratic. But even democracy must be guided.

We are still a work in progress country to surrender everything under the will of free trade.

The regulation lacuna has led to pain and suffering among many Kenyans while buying property. Many family savings have been painfully flushed down the drain with no recourse.

Some citizens, devoted to a fault, have unwillingly written their obituaries with the ink of stress. Yet those who con them continue to trade with gall. At worse, they change their company name and proceed with their spurious business.

Aren’t we going to put an end to this madness? Is there a magic number we are waiting for before acting? We must regulate real estate developers pronto.

This industry requires more than just ability to pay for billboards and prime television property advertisement.

Not long ago, a couple conned Kenyans millions of shillings after advertising, in prime places, a non-existing property. To date they walk freely on the graves of some hardworking citizens.

You may to allude to their carelessness, but as I stated earlier, it is the utmost duty of a government to protect its most vulnerable citizen.

This industry is littered with cases of innocent Kenyans being robbed of their money through shrewd property dealings.

Were we not treated to a circus recently where someone robbed Kenyans billions in land property purchase?

Just this week, a distressed buyer reached out to me for advice having paid a developer house deposit three years ago with no work progress to date. The flickering lamp of history offers myriad cases to draw from.

The government must bring a regulation on rela estate developers. This is not to curtail investment, but to bring some sanity. We are still a far on ethics to leave everything to market forces.

While regulation is not the silver bullet to this problem facing our real estate, but it is a key step to sanity. People cannot be let to advertise non-existing projects on huge billboards without consequences.

There has to be process of vetting property advertisement for authenticity before splashing them to innocent public. Dubai has a model with their Real Estate Regulatory Agency. We can copy or get something similar.

Our real estate developers must be regulated. For whatever little that this may achieve, it is worthwhile.

The writer is author of ‘Don’t Buy That House’

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