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How jobless engineer found success in property

By Nanjinia Wamuswa | Jan 26th 2022 | 5 min read
By Nanjinia Wamuswa | January 26th 2022

Moses Muriithi, CEO Fanaka Real Estate Ltd (L) and Nominated Senator Isaac Ngugi (R), when the company marked the its 5th anniversary in Kiambu County. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

Moses Muriithi learned from his parents that land was a good investment to sink his money. This is after a piece of land they had intended to buy cheaply years back appreciated in value that they were unable to purchase it.

In 2014, Muriithi bought his first plot aiming to sell later and make good money.

Today, the 33-year-old CEO of Fanaka Real Estate, a multi-million firm, shares his journey in the land buying and selling industry.

The firm has so far settled 3,000 people in their plots and given title deeds. It also started managing houses three years ago having about 30 apartments. 

What was the motivation behind the real estate firm?

The investment was on my mind. However, real estate came as a lesson from my parents who shared how land was cheap years ago, but never took advantage to buy and how it has become very expensive. So, in 2014, l bought a plot with a focus to sell after it appreciates and make more money. Meanwhile, as l kept engaging different companies to buy land, they would show me plots far away from developed areas. I realised land in already developed areas or along tarmac roads was expensive yet companies wanted cheaper land they could buy and sell faster for immediate returns. I noticed the gap and decided to bank on people who wanted to settle families to already developed places with necessary amenities such as tarmacked roads, shopping centres, schools, electricity and water. In 2016, l started an office in Ruai. I had seven plots in Kangundo Road, Mwalimu Farm and Ruiru that l marketed on social media.

How was the experience with your first client?

My first buyer happened to be my former classmate in primary school. We came from the same village, so he knew me back from home. He learned from another friend that l had ventured into real estate. Coincidentally, he was looking for somewhere to buy land. I think he bought from the aspect of trust, not even the documentation. More friends came and with promotions and marketing, more buyers came, to date.

Who are your target clients?

As a company, we target everyone. You will find property going for as low as Sh500,000 yet it’s close to Nairobi and also as high as Sh4 million. We understand people are from different background and we’re very strategic on that.

Why study engineering and then jump into real estate?

Long story. Pursuing engineering was a childhood dream just like others who dream of becoming doctors and pilots. But when l got to university, things changed. I would have wished to get a job along my professional course but the challenge is unemployment. It was even very difficult to get an internship. It was discouraging seeing people who graduated long ago without jobs. My venturing into online work was more of fear rather than something l liked. For me, it was what can l start doing so that l don’t go back to the village and stay there unemployed. The money that l got from online work became the capital for my real estate firm. 

At what point did you realise you need to expand?

I used to close my office while l went out searching for land to buy. But clients would come and find the office closed. I realised the need to have someone as an administrator to attend to clients while l was away. My first employee came in 2016. Today l have over 42 employees. The company basically is the people. Human capital forms the biggest and most crucial part of a company’s growth as well as brand visibility. We have a very vibrant, young team and energetic team. I appreciate our staff because if it were not for their efforts, commitments and sacrifices, we would not be at this level.

What are the land solutions that your clients are looking for? 

People need solutions in land. They want to see that their problems are understood and given solutions, fulfilled and delivered. People are looking for efficiency. In today’s world, the greatest differentiator is how efficient you are.

How would you describe yourself?

That is a tricky one. You know we never see ourselves. But, l am a believer. I believe that what is manly possible can be done by anyone. That, if we utilise our potential, we can be whoever or wherever we want to be. It is just a matter of trying to utilise the energy, potential, thoughts and dreams in us and remaining focused.

How has been your journey in real estate in the last five years?

From the outside, someone might see a lot of success and if they were to evaluate us they will give us a higher percentage. But we have had our share of disappointments. Sometimes you have targets, goals for the year or a particular period of time but again you are not able to reach them because of one reason or the other. But l believe it’s just a matter of reevaluating ourselves, looking back where we missed out, what we need to innovate and then trying to be much better than the previous time.

What are your secrets to success?

First, l look at this industry as an area of basic need because everyone is looking for housing or at one point, every person plans to settle. Our central focus is delivery. We have worked on efficiency and ensure our internal processes are in order and clients get their documentation within 30 days. We have flexible payment modes that accommodate more people. We have invested in our staff in terms of training, empowerment and customer service. At Fanaka, apart from just selling land, we familiarise you with clear land buying processes and at what point you need legal assistance regardless of whether you are investing with us or elsewhere. This helps people to avoid being conned.

What challenges have you faced in the real estate industry?

First, the element of creating trust in your clients is a long process. People want to be in a position they say have seen you deliver and choose to invest in you. So, you have to prove yourself, which means to sacrifice your time, be committed and your team has to deliver on your side. There’s a challenge in land procurement because it is not always that you get it right. At times the process is fraught with issues such as court cases.

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