Kenyans staring at auction as bank interest rates increase

A wave of loan defaults following the recent increase in bank interest rates risks plunging Kenya’s fledgling economy into a deeper crisis.

This is according to experts who are sounding the alarm that cash-strapped property owners are staring at auctioneers’ hammers over mounting debt

According to the experts, the spike in the auctioning of prime properties in some of Kenya’s affluent neighbourhoods such as Nyali, Lavington, Kileleshwa and Muthaiga points to a cash crunch, at a time when biting inflation is squeezing Kenyans hard.

A spot check on local dailies shows banks have stepped up debt recovery efforts by engaging auctioneers, leading to an unprecedented spike in property seizures.

In one instance, an auctioneer has put up 75 cars for sale that are valued at between Sh170,000 to Sh4.3 million.  Another auctioneer is seeking to offload 58 motor vehicles due to bad debt.

Other properties on sale include multi-million homes in Kamakis, Bahati Estate in Uasin Gishu, Maragua, Mirema Drive in Nairobi, a school in Kitengela as well as apartments in Kariobangi South and Kawangware.

Farmers have not been spared either.

A prime horticultural farm in Nandi Hills is among the properties facing the hammer. A troubling trend that mirrors that of similar action in Kajiado where an auctioneer is disposing of 43 prime agricultural plots. Another is also on sale in Murang’a.

Away from the numbers lies the true tragedy – the owner’s tales of financial ruin, unfulfilled dreams and misfortune.

This, according to some, is due to the high cost of living, unemployment, weakening shilling, inflation and a stagnation of wages.

Borrowers are finding themselves trapped, sandwiched between a slowing economy and rising lending rates.

Those who were buoyed by the government's appetite for big projects and investment opportunities are finding the going tough.

This is, in part, due to the reduced purchasing power and the knock-on effect of expensive loans that is starving them of capital.

The projects that seemed lucrative at first, have eventually proven to be unprofitable and downright risky.  Some have shut completely.