NAIROBI, KENYA: Moving houses can be such a hassle. You have to walk around, deal with unscrupulous agents, dubious brokers and dodgy caretakers.
It is just what Joshua Mutua had to contend with before he formed Kejahunt in August 2013 as an online ‘house agent’ of sorts.
Mutua told City Biz that all he wanted back then was a house and a job. Just like most of us would have done, he checked out agents who advertise on poles, hoping for a way out. “The experience was not pleasant. They would take your money and show you something not even close to what you had in mind. It was frustrating. We had to do the walking ourselves,” recalls Joshua.
The experience got Mutua and a group of friends thinking about a business that could help people in house hunting.
They applied for an incubation programme at Nailab, a start-up accelerator, and got in. With a capital of Sh150,000 they decided to build a website that listed property from as low as Sh5,000. Those looking for houses could get to view vacant houses in different areas. It was called ‘findahome.’
“After operating for 10 months listing properties, we noticed the demand was too high and that our listings could not satisfy the demand. So in January this year, we introduced a service we call custom search,” explains Mutua.
They changed it to Kejahunt which is literally what they do now - hunting, rather than just listing houses. He told City Biz that Kejahunt, which is now available as an app on Google Play, is more efficient and customised. They noticed that a majority of Kenyans did not have a lot of free time and enough monetary resources.
“We deal with individual requests as opposed to having stale listings that are not solving the problem of house hunting,” says Mutua.
How does it work? You place a request on their website with your name, number, preferred rent and neighbourhood. On receipt of the request, they call you up to confirm the details and that the request is genuine. Thereafter, you agree on the terms of service, then the request is assigned to field officers, who go about searching for a house with your specifications.
“Every time a field officer comes across a house matching a client’s request, we contact the client and send photos and a short video for a virtual tour,” says Mutua.
“The search period varies with a client’s urgency to move, but on average, it takes around three days to get the client three options to view,” he reveals.
Houses whose rental is below Sh15,000 attract a Sh1,500 fee, while Sh3,000 is charged for houses whose monthly rents exceed that figure.
Despite some caretakers’ reluctance to offering information on vacant houses, Mutua insists that theirs is a growing business. He adds that, “In a month, we have an average of 1,000 users. On average, 80 per cent of our paying customers find houses through us.”