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Why real estate developers must step up integrity

By Nashon Okowa | January 16th 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

There should be no substitute for honesty and integrity in the real estate industry. Lack of even an ounce of such would be a monstrous absurdity. Yet several real estate companies, to their ultimate loss, have constantly attempted to break this cardinal rule. They substitute honesty for flashy marketing tools and integrity for beauty with rugged kindness.

That said, the rogue companies have and continue to get away with profound dishonesty in their business. Fuelled by modern century capitalism and an impeccably permissive society, they get away without paying the full price of success. However, what is really ailing these companies? What is the chronic illness?  

It is impossible to build success on foundation of dishonesty. Such companies have been built on greed and roofed within the walls of gluttony. Like Ananias and Sapphira, they have unabated desire for dishonesty. And they somehow get away with. The conniving real estate firms deliver poor or no projects at all. They can sell a house at a high price, call it a free market and lie their way with heavenly promises for a buyer to come through. However, they ultimately must deliver the house. No shortcuts. No sideshows. But give it to them, fake companies have come up with grandiose advertisement tools; huge billboards on key roads, prime time media adverts and their offices could easily be mistaken for modelling showrooms.

With constant roadshows, morning radio programmes and regular weekend open days, it escapes none where the heart of the company resources and attention is focused. But hardly is any meaningful attention granted to project delivery – construction works.

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In such real estate companies, senior managers spend an awful amount of time in marketing meetings and not construction site meetings. It is actually a ceremony when they visit construction sites. Little attention is given to ongoing construction works. In addition, they deliberately resort to cheap professionals with no much experience or quacks. Not to mention that contractor prices are negotiated to compromising levels. The result is the never-ending circus of agonising buyers with substantially delayed or stagnated developments.  

You can advertise all you can, sell all you want but if you are going to deliver delayed, sub-standard, mediocre projects, your entombment is yonder. I do not disrespect the good work marketers do – it is indeed a real hard sweat of their brow – neither is it my counsel that companies should tone down their marketing. For the record, marketing is important but construction is nearly everything.

Real estate companies should give equal or more attention to construction works of their projects just like they have done to marketing. They should be ruthless with project execution. It begins with hiring qualified, experienced professional consultants and seasoned contractors. I know a well-known developer in this city who does not use professionals during construction phase of projects, their work end in design stage. Ironically, both the company’s directors are actually trained professionals in construction field. What would you call that if not greed?  

I have witnessed a growing number of struggling real estate companies. Some want to blame the market for this, but I disagree. A majority is their own creation; built by their own hands and thirst for more money with no projects to show for it.

- The writer is chair of Association of Construction Managers of Kenya. [email protected]

Real Estate Integrity Honesty
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