Username Investment: A gateway to property solutions in Kenya

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Reuben Kimani, CEO, Username Investment Limited

The company is on a mission of providing the current and upcoming generation with a place they can call home

Established five years ago by three young entrepreneurs, Username Investment Limited started off as a small organization with an office at Veteran House, along Moi Avenue. The company started with a team of four people, but today prides itself on having created employment to over forty people.

“As a property organization, Username Investment was established to address a certain gap in the market,” says Reuben Kimani, the company’s Chief Executive Officer. “We realized properties are very expensive and young people in employment or those in small businesses cannot afford to buy,” he adds. In regards to this, Mr. Kimani and his partners decided to give young people an opportunity to invest, especially in land. Most of the customers are aged between 20 and 35 years.

In 2015, the young entrepreneurs left their formal employment to scale up Username to a corporate organization. They decided to do huge projects, create communities and make the land useable. “We don’t just sell land. Our business is creating communities and providing our current and upcoming generation with a place they can call home.”

Basically, Username offers affordable investment options for real estate solutions. The properties range between Kes 199,000 and Kes 430,000. “In fact, there was a time we sold a property for Kes 95, 000,” recalls the CEO. The company also offers a flexible payment mode of up to 12 months.

Username measures its progress through issuing title deeds. So far, it has issued over 5,000 title deeds to its customers.

Projects

So far, the real estate company has done over 25 projects, out of which 20 are closed. Projects are measured through the number of units, inventory, revenue, as well as acre rage.

The first big project – Ngong Breeze – was launched in May 2016, and that was the beginning of great things. “It has been a journey. When we started in 2013, we only had a small pilot project at Konza City,” says Mr. Kimani. Today, Username launches a new project after every month.

The newest project is in Nakuru called Springfield-Nakuru. The hundred-acre project is being referred to as an Affordable Luxury. It’s only a 20-minute drive from Nakuru town and one kilometre from the busy Nakuru-Eldoret highway. According to the CEO, the land is green and flat and a 50 by 100 (An eighth of an acre) plot goes for Kes 429,000.

Another ongoing project is in Naivasha called The Vantage-Naivasha. It is ten kilometres from Naivasha town and is targeting people who want to invest in holiday homes. The property, which is on a raised ground, is selling at Kes 399,000 per plot.

Most of Username’s projects are based in Ngong including Ngong Crescent and Ngong Springs that are already closed, as well as Ngong Blossom and Ngong Sunrise, which are 80 per cent sold out. The projects range between Kes 199,000 and Kes 349,000.
According to Mr. Kimani, Ngong is a good investment area, since it is only 40 kilometres from Nairobi. Although the area has not been exploited compared to others, it is expansive and very accessible from the capital city.

“Our investment decision on the area was made after checking government plans and realized that the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) station will be based there,” reveals the CEO. Additionally, the Greater Southern Bypass will pass through Ngong. With these infrastructural developments, coupled with increased urbanization, Username is optimistic of increased demand for property in Ngong area.

Value addition

Username does not only sell land, but also adds value to it through fencing, grading roads, providing water and electricity. In a nutshell, it provides a gated community to its customers. “We sell land to people knowing that they will either put it into use or sell the property to someone else.” The value addition part has been the selling point for most of the company’s properties.

Competitive edge

“When we came into the real estate industry, we wanted to address the issue of affordability,” offers Mr. Kimani. Although there are many real estate companies in Kenya, a large percentage offers very expensive properties that are out of reach for many people.

Most remarkably, Username invests in areas with great potential for growth. Mr. Kimani says that they do research to find out where the government plans to do infrastructural development. We want our customers to give testimonials five to ten years down the line.

Username also endeavors to restore sanity in the property industry, in line with its slogan – A traditional of trust. “We want to be known as a company that can be trusted by doing the right thing in an industry that is characterized by many challenges.”

Furthermore, the real estate company has differentiated itself by offering first class customer experience, from taking potential clients for site visits, adding value to the property to issuing of title deeds.

Risk management measures

The real estate industry is growing at a higher rate this year compared to 2017, especially after the long electioneering period and the handshake. The graph is going up, something that presents greater opportunities. With the implementation of Vision 2030, political stability and the Presidents Big Four Agenda, the market is expected to grow going forward.

Despite these opportunities and developments, Mr. Kimani says that there are many things that investors should put into consideration prior to buying property. To start with is doing an extensive due diligence. It involves doing a search on a property that is on sale, site visit and visiting neighbors who will tell you the history of the property.

“At Username, we do everything for our customers, from taking them to free site visits and educating Kenyans and creating awareness on important issues regarding property investment.”
There is also the issue of documentation. Filling the right documentation step by step is important to make sure your property is secure. That includes letter of offer, agreement of sale or purchase, as well as land transfer documents.

Road ahead

Since establishment, Username has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of the leading property companies in Kenya. Going forward, the company plans to expand in various vibrant counties, start building affordable houses and become impactful in many sectors of the economy.

“Having been named The 2018 Best Land and Investment Company during the 26th Kenya Homes Expo, we want to continue walking the talk and cement our position,” ends Mr. Kimani.