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Kenyan Real estate firms take battle for clients online

indexDynamism: Buying, selling and renting of property has been made easier with the click of a mouse

Property agents in the country are now taking their trade online. This comes as Kenyans turn to the Internet for the search of commercial and residential property.

As Internet penetration increases, more users in search of property to rent, buy or sell are finding the solution in numerous websites, blogs and social media profiles.

The weather-beaten blackboards at bus-stops and street corners are slowly disappearing as real estate agents get more tech savvy.

Sham Kanji started realestateonline.co.ke in 2010 at the height of the property boom. According to Kanji, real estate agents who do not have an online portal could find themselves out of the market in a few years.

“At the time that we were launching realestateonline.co.ke, the Kenyan property market was very vibrant. We realised there was a gap in the market because not many property agents had a presence on the Internet,” he says.

Kanji has successfully worked for several online companies including Buy & Sell Media, AutoBazaar.co.ke, Mshahara.co.ke and Bargains.co.ke.

Armed with experience from these companies, he states that it is just a matter of time before the search and transaction of property goes fully online.

“We realised that Kenyans who search for property online are dynamic. As online property agents, your priority is providing information that will help the buyer make an informed decision and that is how you will become relevant in the market,” he says.

Online portal benefits

Kanji observes that using online property search portals offer buyers several advantages key among them being convenience.

“You minimise your physical movements. There is more variety and you can just hold back in case you realise there is anything fishy in the deal. Other properties also include maps and photos of the houses and this saves the buyer a lot of time and energy,” he adds.

Companies in the country that deal with property sale, development or leasing are also getting on board. They are setting up websites complete with lists and maps to the property under their respective portfolio. “The competition is stiff today and there are dozens of websites and blogs both by companies or individual agents on property and all of them want to be seen,” states Kanji.

Louise Kaptich is a programmer who also realised that there were opportunities in the existing gaps in the market and using his skills, he helped set up propertyzote.com way back in 2007.

“My brother was overseas at the time and he went online to search for property but found that the websites that listed property were not user friendly, hard to navigate and had outdated content,” he recalls. That was when the idea came to the two brothers and together they set up the website which at first had little traction owing to the low penetration of e-commerce at the time.

In the last five years however, their website has registered growth mostly due to favourable references from satisfied clients.

Number of hits

Last year, it had over five million hits, a 22 per cent increase and the number of agents now total to 1, 000.

The website won the brothers an award for best innovative use of ICT by a company at last year’s CIO awards. However, the duo say online marketing can be difficult when dealing with property the same case applies.

“The trick is to get people know your presence as online presence takes time and you have to spend a lot of money for it to be profitable,” Kaptich said.-Standard

 

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