Property in Kenya continues to remain attractive due to increasing urbanization and consumerism, private equity investment, the maturing state of the market, as well as ongoing infrastructure improvements.
To make land ownership a reality for everyone, land buying company Property Reality Company (PRC) is investing in new technologies to allow investors view properties virtually using videos and virtual reality and buy it on the go, especially those in the diaspora.
The firm has revamped its e-commerce platform just months after unveiling M-PLOTI, its SMS platform targeted at investors from the informal sector. The revamped ecommerce platform allows anyone to view land online, determine its location, see a brief description and prices and then click buy in a few simple steps.
“We have been able to break barriers using technology. Using our platform we have been able to make land ownership a reality and demystified real estate and made it accessible to majority of Kenyans to access land,” said Brian Gachari, founder and CEO PRC.
The platform has properties spread across various PRC sites allowing investors to search through the various properties then head straight to the cart to buy land. The revamped platform will soon allow buyers to track their title deeds and only visit the office to collect it. At the moment, earlier investors can use the portal to resale their PRC pre-owned land. Gachari says the firm is pushing tech to its limits to meet the growing interest from the diaspora who have no time to visit the country but want to own property here.
Linked to PRCs CRM system, the firm’s representatives gets a notification of every online or SMS purchase then start processing the necessary documentation till a title deed is issued. The CRM system handles customer acquisition, legal, marketing, lead generation and management, accounts management, customer care, payments and title deed tracking.
PRC says it’s putting Information Technology in its sales, marketing, legal, deed processing, communications and HR. Its CRM system and call centre have implemented AI and machine learning in the backend to identify new and returning customers and recommend new properties depending on their interest, preferences or investments history or according to region and price range. On payments, the system can tell how much an investor is willing to spend depending on their earnings or investment history and will point them to such properties alone.
“We have sold property using Dealfish and we have really adopted tech and are moving out a company into one of the country’s paperless SMEs and the first in real estate. We see ourselves as a full ecommerce platform moving with the times globally. We are seeing increased returns by between 14 to 20 percent from our e-commerce platform due to increasing internet penetration in the country and growing trust in ecommerce by Kenyans as well as the growth of trust in PRC as a brand,” said Gachari. “Our major challenge now is the amount of cash banks and MPESA allow for transfers per day. Both M-Pesa and credit cards have caps though Pesalink when fully launched would help us address that.”
Not shy of innovation, Gachari says the firm was late last year bashed for its failed Kilimo Biashara Model.
“In 2016, we did Kilimo Biashara to allow investors earn money while speculating on their land but we made a mistake with the model by promising guaranteed returns. However, the model could make a killing here and terrible losses there and we ended up not earning what we had promised our investors. The model is great but the returns are not stable. We still want our investors to earn money growing and selling food and we have been able to change the model and promise better and realistic results this time,” he said.
The firm has linked its MPLOTI platform, the ecommerce system and its CRM system to all its processes including customer acquisition, marketing, legal, HR, customer care among others and says it will use technologies especially new technologies such as virtual reality, AI and machine learning to become more customer centric this year.
MPLOTI launched mid last year to take land ownership to where the buyers are and is targeted at low and middle class segments of the market in the informal sector who earn per day, week. The same platform can be used for both daily, weekly and monthly payments conveniently allowing its investors to pay for their land whenever they get the money.
“We are trying to make land a retail product so investors choose to pay daily, weekly or monthly and after a deposit one can choose the number of instalments and the amount to pay on each,” Gachari told TechMoran. “We were the first to start selling land over SMS. We are quiet innovative and trying to push tech to all the limits”
With tech, PRC can get in customer feedback, do customer service and also send out notifications and communications on title deed status or payment status. The online ecommerce platform and the USSD platform are good for properties under 250,000 as most buyers in these segments are always out and about and can use their mobile phones to pay for their properties or query the status of their land.
In detail, some of the tech features include a brief description of the property, its location, price- with payment plan options, auto allocation of the best available plots depending on the customer’s preference and financial ability, a customer management portal where a client can query their payments and balances, payment reminders depending on the number of installments a client is on and when their payment falls due, constant automated and personalized communication with the client on land appreciation, project progress, birthdays and any other relevant information as well as the ability to save and own a property regardless of where one is.