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Quacks invade real estate sector

REAL ESTATE
By | January 20th 2011

The real estate sub-sector is abuzz with dubious ‘professionals’ out to rake fraudulent profits. As a lucrative sector that greatly influences the growth of the economy and expected to contribute up to six per cent this year, fakes want a share of the cake.

For instance, the construction sector recorded improved growth of 14.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2010 compared to 2.4 per cent during the similar period in 2009.

It is for this reason that the booming industry remains ground for swindlers out to rake undeserved fortunes.

Usually these impostors assume the hats of qualified professionals to hoodwink unsuspecting prospective investors. They may pose as estate agents, yet they are not registered with the Estate Agents Registration Board as required by law.

Furthermore, professional estate agents should be in good books of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya.

Therefore, think twice about the man or woman who volunteers to help you get a house and charges between Sh1,500 to Sh3,000 as viewing fees.

The script is the same to those claiming to be engineers, architects or lawyers but are not registered members of any professional bodies. Unfortunately, spotting a seasoned quark in this industry is not easy following their mastery of the industry.

Membership

Furthermore, the ongoing impunity in the industry allows swindlers to flourish unpunished after conning unsuspecting investors of fortunes. To rid the lucrative sub sector of quacks, professional associations should publish names of their registered members in the media and other outlets like websites.

It would also be welcome for the associations to crack the whip and name and shame members who engage in professional misconduct. Take the case of the Advocates Complaints Commission that punishes advocates of the High Court who engage in professional misconduct. The Law Society of Kenya publishes on its website names of registered advocates with valid practicing certificates and those deregistered.

For prospective investors, hiring services of a person without establishing their credibility can only be done at one’s peril. For instance, a registered property valuer may help you to determine the legal market price of a desired property in relation to its utility.

And surveyors are mainly important in establishing the physical extent of the property and validity of the survey and deed plans. Shutting the door on the registered professionals to engage cheaper quarks would be an easy path to blowing away fortunes.

As a reminder, majority of fraudsters are eloquent, sound convincing and insist on the transaction to be completed with urgency.

The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

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