How Technology is Transforming Kenya’s Real Estate Sector

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buyrentkhugelogoThere have been outcries that technology is taking away people’s jobs than creating them and even more fears that robots will replace the human race at the workplace.

Bill Gates, speaking at Washington, D.C‘s American Enterprise Institute within 20 years, a lot of jobs will go away, replaced by software automation. Another independent report by Elon University’s Imagining the Internet group in conjunction with the Pew Research Center warns that,”Automation has thus far impacted mostly blue-collar employment; the coming wave of innovation threatens to upend white-collar work as well. Certain highly-skilled workers will succeed wildly in this new environment – but far more may be displaced into lower-paying service industry jobs at best, or permanent unemployment at worst.”

There are many such similar reports with clear findings that techlonogy will put most jobes on the line, however, this might be different depending on whatever sector technology is being applied.

Speaking to TechMoran, Jamie Pujara, BuyRentKenya‘s chief executive said technology aims to improve lives and bring convenience to our day to day experiences.

“Absolutely the goal is to improve lives. Technology plays a huge part of that,” Pujara said. “In our particular case it may look like we are eliminating brokers but what in fact is happening is that we are helping to correct the marketplace by forcing brokers to become more transparent and provide more information about the properties they sell.”

According to Pujara, the brokers who feel they are being eliminated are the ones that are reluctant to change because that change ultimately empowers the end user.

“Brokers that fit into this category have been taking advantage of the lack of information available thus giving them advantage. Technology and sites such as BuyRentKenya make the access to information more accessible thereby partnering with the brokers who want to create a sustainable business model,” Pujara said.

Such technology is not just for property discovery, but provide data for detailed insight into trends and market pricing. Technology also gives the end user the freedom to compare and contrast and make educated decisions about the purchase. Pujara adds that on the Global scene, Technology has made the dream of buying property anywhere a reality and for those living in the dispora the opportunity to buy something back home.

“What the internet has done is raise the level of expectation and knowledge of the end user.  It has created a shift from a simple buyer to a more sophisticated one. A buyer who requires choice, a buyer who has the ability to be specific and to demand quality. We still have a way to go, but the internet has helped shape that vision,” Pujara says.

In Kenya, there have been cases of landgrabbing and fraud with the ongoing court case of who owns the vast land in Karen. Technology can help solve that though it would take a momentous effort by the government to be able to use technology to solve issues of land ownership and allocation and curb fraud.”A Lands ministry that is based on sound technological infrastructure will help bring about much more transparency and accountability and by providing the history of each plot, it would restore confidence in the system and would actually help sites like ours to be more efficient in verifying the authenticity of the properties listed in Kenya,” says Pujara, whose two year old site is now the biggest in the country beating other companies with international backing and technology. “The confidence in the market may lead to more investment and motivate people to trade more in property especially those who fear getting cheated or conned under the status quo.”

Pujara founded BuyRentKenya in 2012 after he experienced the difficulties others go through trying to find a property in Nairobi, especially those coming back home from the diaspora and just anyone looking for a property to rent or buy or those that want to sell.

Buyrentkenya.com has rapidly become the no.1 property portal in Kenya and among the most visited websites in the country according to site comparison site Alexa. BuyRentKenya, backed by One Africa Media was nominated at the 2013 CIO100 Annual Awards after only 6 months of launching and serves over 160,000 visitors monthly who come to access up-to-date listings for residential and commercial properties, as well as local real estate news, market trends, home styling, expert advice and useful guides on buying and selling.

Technology to BuyRentKenya is paramount in everything they and is reflected in the design, content and navigation of both its website, mobile site and mobile apps. Agents or developers need not invest in technology as BuyRentKenya has done it for them already.

“BuyRentKenya is enough and I would recommend they do not invest in their own websiteS but rather to invest in their brand. We see them as partners and bringing all the end users to our website is where we feel we can add value. For them it is about providing service and expertise, says Pujara.

Pujara says that buying or renting property is a large investment, and not something that is done so often adding that it’s not a sector guided by price but by preference on a variety of factors and features. For instance if he was looking for a three bedroom apartment, it is not the price that guides him, it could be location, it could be security, it could be the type of neighbours. So naturally as a buyer he would be apprehensive and would seek as much guidance and advise as possible.

“Therein lies the opportunity for those looking to be successful in the real estate sector. It is to provide that expertise and to build their own brand that will convey honesty and knowledge of their sector. I feel this will resonate with the end user and will always have a place in the real estate sector,” Pujara concludes.