Investment Company Rewriting History of Property Ownership
For a long time, owning property has been deemed a reserve for the rich and the highly placed in the society. This myth will soon be buried in history books as Username Investment Limited steps up to offer Kenyans from all walks of life affordable property. Corporate Watch Magazine’s Ker Mogallo finds out how the investment company seeks to rewrite the history of property ownership.
- Username Investment Limited is an Investment Company whose desire is to provide the current and upcoming generations with a place they can call home.
- The investment company is guided by the aspiration to offer affordable property in urban areas.
- Username ensures its properties are strategically located in places with high potential for growth and environments with upcoming infrastructural development.
- The company ensures there is value addition and that its properties are fenced using high quality materials, internal access roads are graded and features like boreholes, Electricity and Water is installed on most sites.
- Username’s Head Office is at The Mirage, 10th Floor Tower 3 Chiromo Rd Westlands and Nairobi CBD Branch is at International Life House, 6th Floor on Mama Ngina Street
- Over the years, Username has developed long-standing relationships built on trust with clients and cooperative relationships with competitors. The company strives not to compromise on ethics, reputation, or values to get results
- Username Investment Limited is seeking to have presence in all the counties as part of its expansion bid.
When Username Investment Limited was first registered 8 years ago as a side hustle by three friends, it was positioned to carry out an array of businesses but its Directors; Reuben Kimani, Joseph Gitonga and Julius Karanja, all passionate about real estate, in the year 2013, shifted focus to property seeing as there was a gap in the market.
The trio, with a combined history of Information Communication Technology engineering, banking, mortgage, real estate management and finance have in the last five years built a fast growing real-estate development and Investment Company whose desire is to provide the current and upcoming generations with a place they can call home. Guided by the desire to offer affordable property in urban areas and to the young generation between the ages of 25 and 45, Username has consolidated its position in the industry to emerge as a trusted partner, the best and the most preferred real estate Company in Kenya and the region.
Now with a Head Office at The Mirage, 10th Floor Tower 3 Chiromo Rd Westlands and Nairobi CBD Branch at International Life House, 6th Floor on Mama Ngina Street, Username is slowly carving an unrivaled niche in the property and real estate industry in the region. Username ensures its properties are strategically located in places with high potential for growth and environments with upcoming infrastructural development.
Affordability is also key, as offerings range from as low as Ksh 50,000.
In provision of these services, Username ensures there is value addition and that its properties are fenced using high quality materials, internal access roads are graded and features like boreholes, Electricity and Water is installed on site.
‘We started off as three directors and one employee in a small spaced one room office in the Nairobi CBD. With a lot of commitment, determination, consistency, honesty, trust and perseverance we have grown to a staff of over 32 employees and from handling projects worth Ksh 10 million to handling property worth Ksh 100 million and over,’ said Username Chief Executive Officer Reuben Kimani in an exclusive interview with the Corporate Watch Magazine.
He added that it has not been a walk in the park for Username and that it has been through hard work and God’s grace that the company now soars above the rest.
‘Our first project was a 42 plot property worth Ksh 2.5 million in Konza which we bought with moneys we had pulled together from savings and an unsecured loan of Ksh 1.8 million I had managed to get from a bank through my former employer,’ narrated Mr. Kimani.
Not knowing what the future holds and with a loan to service, the marketing of the property kicked off through a network of friends and family. Fortunately, the plots were sold out marking the beginning of a successful multimillion venture. However, along the way, as the budding company acquired more property to sell, it faced a setback when a property the company acquired turned out to have been sold to them without due process as the details of the land owner were inconsistent leading to an instant loss of Ksh 5 million the firm had paid as deposit.
This was an impediment for the young company but the team did not give up, bouncing back stronger but this time putting in place legal measures to ensure the acquisition processes are legitimate and sealing all loopholes for fraud. Boasting of over nineteen projects to date, Username prides itself in its core values. Professionalism has been its core-driving factor with the management and staff embracing a culture to do business by applying the best industry practices and enhancing integrity in all dealings.
‘Over the years, we have developed long-standing relationships built on trust with our clients and cooperative relationships with our competitors. We strive not to compromise our ethics, reputation, or values to get results. Our main aim is to better our community,’ said the CEO.
The company continuously innovates in a bid to make life easier for its customers, employees, suppliers and investors by applying the most effective approaches to challenges in the Industry. Username products are always well researched with the company always looking for ways to positively change the real estate industry in Kenya and beyond.
‘We are always striving to be ahead of the rest, in a nutshell, we want to change the way the real estate sector operates because we believe our customers and Kenyans at large deserve better,’ the CEO added.
For instance, he mentions that apart from the flexible payment periods the company offers, and efficiency on customer refunds, the investors who purchase land with Username are able to get their title deeds within three to six months of payment for plots. This assurance is vital in property dealings, as this has become one of its key pillars with investors lauding this rare tradition of trust.
Now and the future…
The company achieves results because it has built relationships with customers, local business leaders, competitors, and community leaders. At Username, customers come first. The expansive staff of relationship managers communicate often as management continually improve services through training, technology and customer feedback.
The investment company, which began with sale of property within Kenya’s capital city Nairobi and its environs, now aims at regional expansion with its latest project in Nakuru dubbed ‘The Hamptons’ starting off the expansion drive.
Strategically located 2kms from the tarmac off the Nakuru – Eldoret highway and 24 kms from the Nakuru CBD, this property situated in the serene and green area of Sobea boasts of ready roads, proximity to schools, expected key developments such as the SGR and the proposed Nakuru airport. Characterised by great terrains, spectacular views, accessibility and affordability, the Hamptons in Nakuru is the true definition of serene living.
The Hamptons Nakuru open day held on Saturday March 10th 2018 saw investors throng the site for bookings and cash purchases. The cash offer for the 50 x 100 plots is Ksh 399,000 with the booking deposit pegged at Ksh 40,000. The flexible 12-month payment plan is also available for this project with the introductory price for installment buyers at Ksh 475, 000 with a deposit of Ksh 145,000 and 12 equal installments of Ksh 27,500.
The introductory prices are all-inclusive and cover legal fees, stamp duty and title transfer costs with absolutely no hidden charges.
Speaking in Nakuru at the open day, Username Investments’ CEO, Reuben Kimani, urged the Lands Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Farida Karoney, to hasten the reforms in the Lands Ministry.
The CEO noted that it was possible for Kenya to have an efficient Lands Ministry, if it took the correct steps to mitigating the challenges that currently affects it.
“One of the most critical things that the Land CS can work towards is eliminating the cartels that have crippled operations in the Ministry over the years. Deeply entrenched vested interests have hampered the land reform process, as many want the past flawed land regime to continue, so that they keep benefitting from a non-streamlined land sector,”he said.
He further urged the new Cabinet Secretary to drive the implementation of the National Land Policy that was put in place by her predecessor, noting that it was the only way streamlined operations could be achieved in the Ministry.
“The National Land Policy was developed to provide a legal, administrative, institutional and technological framework for optimal utilization and production of land. This is a key document which the CS should implement in the shortest time in order to promote efficiency in matters land, namely access to land use information, equity, elimination of discrimination and public benefit sharing,” he noted.
The CEO also applauded the Government on its efforts towards title deed distribution in the country, noting that title deeds were a crucial document in economic empowerment.
“The Government did well in keeping its promise of issuing 3 million title deeds by August 2017. It was able to issue 2.4 million title deeds by the promised date, which translated to about 800,000 titles per year since 2013. This is no mean feat, if you consider that between 1956 and June 2013, only 5.6 million pieces were titled countrywide, which translated to about 112,000 titles a year,” he said.
The CEO also reassured investors that the real estate sector was bound to pick up in 2018. Adding that it was the right time for investors to invest for long-term gains, as a result of real estate being the highest returning asset class, with average returns of 25.8 per cent compared to other asset classes’ average returns of 12.3per cent.
In line with its expansion vision, Username is soon going regional with Naivasha, Nanyuki and Mombasa earmarked for projects.
‘Putting in mind vision 2030 and to attain the SDGs, we are soon expanding to the counties. The Hamptons in Nakuru is just the beginning as we intend to have a presence in every county,’ said Mr. Kimani
The username CEO also revealed that as part of the company expansion, plans are underway to incorporate a division of Username Limited that will construct affordable residential developments and offer affordable mortgage. ‘We have a vision, we want to make owning a house affordable and paying for mortgage less costly because we believe it is possible and it can be done. We are working on these dynamics and will soon be rolling them out,’ concluded the CEO.
The three Directors of the company work hand in hand with the support of the staff to achieve the company’s vision and mission. Reuben Kimani is the CEO and the Head, Strategy and Business Development Manager. He is tasked with laying down the strategy for the company in the medium term as well as identifying the company’s long-term goals, projects to undertake and building the company’s reputation in the region. Joseph Gitonga is the Head of Sales and Marketing. His sales and marketing experience is a key driver to the vision of the business while Julius Karanja is the head of finance and customer experience. His accomplishments in Projects Management go a long way in managing company operations, finances and bring customer attention skills in the venture. Apart from this, Karanja has also made it his mission to transform Username into a customer-centric and customer obsessed organization by providing first class customer experience to all customers.