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Optimising land use for handsome returns

Geoffrey Ruiru talks us through his passion for growing property value

Owning a decent home is a nightmare for many low-income earners in Kenya. Most middle-income earners are still repaying mortgages even in old age.

The market gap in housing for the low and the medium income earners prompted Geoffrey Ruiru, among others, to co-found Treasure Gardens, a real estate company that caters to the common mwananchi.

“We target the lower middle-class earners and facilitate a payment system for them that involves instalments” says Ruiru. With Treasure Gardens, you make monthly instalments starting from Sh5,000 and once you are done, you outright own a piece of land.

Owing to the high price of land sale in Nairobi and adjacent satellite towns, Ruiru says Treasure Gardens saw an opportunity in rural and semi-urban centres, which led to their establishment in Nyeri.

“Land is ‘becoming scarce’ in Nairobi, we had to look for alternatives and that’s where Nyeri came in,” adds Ruiru. Their establishment of the Nyeri offices opened up the sale of land in Laikipia.

In Nyeri and Laikipia counties, Treasure Gardens has been assisting clients who wish to maximise their land use through agriculture. With focus on one of the government’s agenda on food security, Ruiru says that the agricultural sector is underutilised.

“We help our clients set up agricultural enterprises on their land by advising them on how to utilise their land for optimum productivity,” says Ruiru.

In Embu, most landowners opt to develop their land into hostels owing to the increase in the high number of students from universities.

“The rise of student enrolment into colleges within Embu and the resulting scarcity of accommodation facilities in most of the schools, there is a huge gap for private accommodation,” Says Ruiru.

In Nakuru, where Treasure Gardens established offices a few years ago, apartment housing seems to be the favourite investment for landowners. Among all the semi-urban centres, land sale in Nakuru has shown the highest purchases.

Having sold land to over 1,000 clients, Ruiru says that the industry has taught them to stay poise for any unseen changes. “Since we began, we have sold land to over 1,000 clients, 800 of whom already have their title deeds,” says Ruiru.

Apart from selling land to individuals, Treasure Gardens also created options for gender groups to tap into their investment potential.

Just like most of the sectors in other industries, the electioneering period led to a drop in sales, but the famous ‘handshake’ brought business back to its track for Treasure Gardens.

With the government’s agenda to provide affordable housing, Ruiru says there is an opportunity for all real estate companies, however, the government needs to intervene to prevent the prices of land from skyrocketing.

On the youth unemployment agenda, Treasure Gardens believe that if the youth of this nation are facilitated to own land, agribusiness can boom and food security would also be guaranteed.

Recently, the booming real estate industry in Kenya has bred cons who defraud unwary clients, most of whom are first-time property owners.

Simple Homes is a recent case where unsuspecting clients lost millions of shillings to the scheme.

Ruiru cautions against rush for property, especially to first time owners and advices one to follow the due process or alternatively hire a lawyer.

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