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Medical services cooperative in quest for home ownership

Lancet Co-operative Society Limited has launched their first housing development, Lancet Village in the fast-growing Katani area of Syokimau region, Machakos county.The project comes just a few years after the idea was conceived to assist their members acquire land and build at affordable cost.

The members of the society work for Lancet Company, a medical laboratory  services provider based in Nairobi.  To the 250 workers of the company that was started in 2009, the gated community with social amenities  promises good tidings.

“It has been four years on the works for the cooperative society,” chairman Patrick Were said during the ground-breaking at Katani.

Lancet Cooperative chairman Patrick Were (left) and Lancet CEO unveil the plaque during the event. Photo/CHARLES MATHAI

The society paid Sh45 million for the 10 acres, which has appreciated several times since they put pen to paper with the vendor in June 2015.

The use of a local contractor in the building and the acquisition of products locally means that the cost-effectiveness of the project will be achieved, even creating jobs to the local population in a region that is fast-developing.

Were said 188 units will consist of two bedroom (all fully booked), three bedroom and four bedroomed units as well as  maisonettes.

Already, the housing cooperative has members’ savings amounting to Sh150 million to start off the project. Members also will be getting loans from First Community Bank, Equity Bank, Stanbick Bank and Cooperative Bank.    

Were said the primary advantage of the cooperative, which is now open to members of the public, is pooling resources. 

“The buying power is leveraged, thus lowering the cost per member in all the services and products associated with home construction and ownership,” he said. 

The off-plan purchase, which involves buying the property before the structure is constructed, means that the members of the society will avoid the rigmarole that involves looking for different and separate approvals from requisite government bodies such as the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the National Construction Authority (NCA).

“It has taken four years to invest in this scheme, a period in which we went through all approvals required for the development of such an investment,” he said.

The off-plan ladder to owning a house means that the buyer acquires the property of the plan at its design stage of the development process. In the process, the cost of the property is much lower than the market prices by as much as 30 per cent, according to Were.

Lancet CEO Ahmed Kalebi said  investors and market speculators also make capital gains in this time-proved method.

There is also ample opportunity for capital growth in the rising market. “In a rising housing market, off-plan method allows investors buy properties at lower prices than if they wait for construction,” said Kalebi.  

“It is a dream come true for our employees who will soon be owning homes after being in a union for less that 10 years,” he added. 

In their recommendation to the county government and national government, Lancet Cooperative says the off-plan should not be ignored. “It means that the buyer is allowed to acquire the asset at a price payable before construction starts,” says Kalebi.

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