Land buying in Kenya has traditionally been for a selected few individuals; mostly for the rich elite and the urban working class who are able to buy huge chunks of land from local communities or land selling companies.
However, this is set to change with the launch of M-PLOTI, a new USSD platform by Kenya’s Property Reality Company (PRC). By sending the word Mploti to 33300, M-PLOTI allows a buyer to get a full description of the property, its location, Google coordinates and a map through which they can select their preferred plot. They then pick a day for a site visit and commit on a flexible payment plan until they pay the whole amount for the property.
With theis, the innovative real estate firm and developer, is successfully opening up the country’s real estate sector to both the low income earners and those in the middle income bracket, segments mostly left out due to poor access to financial services and lack of flexibility when it comes to payment for property.
“Traditionally, land buying has been viewed as a complicated and rigid activity. Mploti is changing this by allowing Kenyans to own land by paying as little as Ksh 500 a day,” Brian Gacari, the firm’s founder and chairman said during the launch of M-PLOTI late last year.
With M-PLOTI, anyone can request for information about a parcel of land-such as location, size, price and available amenities then go ahead to pay a deposit on the land and continue paying the balance in installments via mobile money for the set period of time. PRC’s M-PLOTI is the first of its kind in East Africa and is targeted at serving over 40 million people who use mobile phones but have been shut out of the traditional financial sector.
M-PLOTI is accessible via SMS or USSD therefore anyone with a mobile phone can use the platform whether they have access to internet or not. Because of flexible payment plans, PRC is widening its client base to reach a wider market in order to enable this untapped market to own land in a few months.
The platform works simply. User’s text M-Ploti to 33300 then register by providing their full names and national ID number. They then are given an option to view all the properties and then they select their most preferred property and payment plan from the list . They then follow the instructions to complete the transaction and have the plot allocated to them.
Apart from the SMS platform, the firm’s web app allows users to search for property online, book a site visit to see the land physically then choose the payments terms depending on their financial standing. The firm says it’s working on an Android and iOS app to reach more mobile centric customers. PRC has a dedicated call centre run by a professional teams to reach out to its customers.
“This year, we’re becoming more customer centric and focusing on fast customer feedback and delivery of titles. We also want to deliver over and above our promises. We’ll deliver to our clients and train our staff to communicate with and listen to the voice of our customers,” said Mr Gacari, emphasizing that PRC is focusing on technology and innovation this year in a bid to improve the customer experience.
Customer feedback is very important to the entire process. PRC is working on cleaning all the backlog of the titles from previous years. The firm is also investing in value addition and has launched PRC Housing for its real estate customers to buy and have their property developed for them without breaking a sweat. PRC Housing already has two projects underway.
The firm does thorough due diligence to ensure that every project is genuine. . With time, PRC aims to make the process as seamless as possible because some of the titles delay due to lack of capacity in the newly set up county governments as most of them were not designed to handle large numbers of customers.
PRC hopes the government will streamline the title deed issuance process like it did with Huduma Centre. The firm also aims to sensitize leaders and local communities on the economic opportunities that come with migration instead of the fear associated with it currently.
According to the latest report by the Communications Authority of Kenya, the number of mobile subscriptions stands at over 41.0 million while active mobile money users surpass 28 million users. PRC sees these as a huge opportunity for the real estate industry which is in line with its mission of making property ownership a reality for all Kenyans.