When James Irungu, the proprietor of Mwakilishi News Aggregator, flew to Dallas, Texas last weekend to attend the Kenya Diaspora Homes Expo 2015, he didn’t know that he would return to Baltimore, Maryland a proud owner of a house in Kenya.
He had travelled to Texas principally to catch up with some exhibitors from Kenya who had advertised on his publication’s site.
But when he entered the exhibition hall at the imposing Irving Convention Centre in Dallas and heard of the zero per cent deposit to own a home in any one of the many sites being displayed by the Kings Pride Properties team, his priorities immediately changed.
“The zero per cent deposit, known here in the US as zero down payment, won my heart even though I hadn’t planned to buy a house at this time but hey, who can pass on such a deal?” he told the Nation at the exhibition hall.
It took Mr Irungu less than 30 minutes to process the necessary paperwork and sign a lease agreement for a three bedroom apartment at Glenwoods Gardens in Ruaka. In ordinary circumstances, it would have taken him months or even years to qualify for credit, process a loan and identify a suitable property.
But it took him less than an hour to sign a lease agreement courtesy of the zero deposit deal being marketed by Kings Pride, a real estate agency that organised the three day Dallas exhibition.
“It is very hard to save money when you are living in a place like the US. There are too many bills to pay at the end of the month that is why most of us live from paycheque to paycheque. And that is why a deal that requires no deposit or down payment on a mortgage is bound to be popular with the Diaspora,” he said.
HAS BEEN EMBRACED
Mr Irungu was in fact not the only Kenyan living abroad who found the zero deposit deal irresistible. Sam Mwongera, a Kenyan resident of Houston, Texas had driven for more than three hours to “see” for himself whether the zero per cent deposit deal was real or just another marketing gimmick.
“I read about it in the Nation but I wanted to see for myself if it was true. At this time of the year, you get so many businesses from Kenya promising heaven on earth and when they go back, they don’t even pick up your phone calls,” said Mr Mwongera.
The chairman of Kings Pride, Major (Rtd) David Karau, is not surprised that the zero per cent deposit had proved very popular with the Diaspora. He says the concept has been embraced even back home in Kenya especially among young first-time homeowners.
“Our motto is that, if you can afford to pay at least Sh50,000 rent per month, then you can afford to own your home. We believe owning a roof over one’s head is a basic right and not a preserve of the rich,” he said.
Speaking during the launch of the exhibition, Mr Karau explained that the zero per cent deposit applies to buyers paying in installments when the property was still under construction.
He explained that the concept borrows more from the hire purchase mode of payment where on or during the construction of the unit, an individual partially owns the unit as they honour their monthly payment commitments.
“The predetermined percentage of initial deposit is divided and spread out prior or during the construction period as monthly installments,” he said. Asked by the Nation to say who guarantees the loan for the purchase of the property, Mr Karau said even though at the initial purchase stage banks are not directly involved, they already have various partner banks and other financial institutions that they bring on board to record payment history throughout the installments payments period.
“These records will play a vital role in the appraisal process to acquire a mortgage at the end of construction,” he said.
During the launch of the expo, more than 17 businesses from Kenya displayed their products. Among the exhibitors from Kenya were Baita Trading Company, Longonot Gate, Kamuthi Housing Co-operative Society, Stima Investment Co-operative Society, Premier Realty, Ndatani Enterprises Ltd, Innercity Ltd and Lush Homes.
Others were Optiven Ltd, Staten Properties, Tofina Rom Builders, Poa Pay, Titan LLC, Samar Properties and Proudly Kenyan Jewellery.