In 2018, go buy a village, town will find you!

It is a new year and buying your first plot of land or house is high on your list of 2018 resolutions; you couldn’t have chosen a worse time to buy. Fortunately, worse is better than worst. Property prices, by my forecast, will soar this year, but there is a way around it.

It is a new year and buying your first plot of land or house is high on your list of 2018 resolutions; you couldn’t have chosen a worse time to buy. Fortunately, worse is better than worst. Property prices, by my forecast, will soar this year, but there is a way around it.

First, let us look at your life story now, a life whose experience you are trying to abandon by finally getting into a house of your own through construction or outright purchase. Since your first real job, you have been in several complicated relationships…with landlords and ladies.

Every time you wanted to end a relationship in the past, you called on the friend you would like to hate but can’t really do away with; that house middleman commonly known as ‘commissioner’ who keeps a long list of candidates from which to pick your next relationship.

We could write an entire article on property middlemen/commissionerson how they are such a pain in the neck but this comment is about property price forecast in 2018 and middlemen and property developers are just factors of the argument.

Property prices will rise in 2018, ironically, not because of increased demand but because of government efficiency especially in development of infrastructure in form of roads and other public amenities. Across the Kigali Metropolitan, most roads have been macadamized.

While the smooth tarmac roads in the Kigali conurbation are to be celebrated by motorists, they are also going to be the downside for those looking to buy property next to them.

“It is a good plot/house located next to/along the tarmac road,” is a popular line among property agents. And with that, they will push the asking price up by 15 percent.

Of course, this is ridiculous because the property owner didn’t invest a penny in having the road tarmacked. Well, it our collective taxes being used, so developers shouldn’t take advantage.

In 2014, I worked on an article in which we attempted to trace the role of architects in supporting property developers deliver affordable houses on the market.

As part of my field work, KefaAngwenyi, a developer with Region Holdings, took me to an estate they were developing atop Rebero hill.

You can imagine how bad the roads on Rebero hill were; dusty, bumpy and riddled with stony potholes. Yet like a diamond in the mud, it was obvious a property on that hill was the real deal. Even then, a unit in the estate was going for Rwf65million.

“I can guarantee you, Ken, this property will be in the access of Rwf100million three years from now,” BeyernOkinyi, a project supervisor told me then, after I suggested the units were overpriced.

A fortnight ago, I visited Rebero hill again. It was at night. Oh boy! The place was lit. The bumpy dusty roads are no more. It is tarmac all the way! More ultra-modern apartments can be seen under construction.

Little children who are resident in the already inhabited properties could be seen enjoying evening walks on the clean sidewalks of the shiny tarmac roads outside their cool houses. Rebero hill offers perhaps the best night view of the city and that, is simply priceless.

I drove to Kefa’s Mountain View Estate which was constructed four years ago, with a tarmac road and the great Rebero view, clearly, you wouldn’t argue with a price-tag of Rwf120million for a unit, double what the current owners paid for it, thanks to the infrastructure factor.

Across the city, property buyers should brace for the tarmac roads factor to push the price up of which ever property they may target. Even where the tarmac hasn’t reached, be sure about the property agent to make you believe that it is in the local government’s plan for the year!

But you must buy now or you won’t be able to, in years to come. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy in the city. Go buy a property in what appears to be a village right now and be confident that the town will find you, sooner than later.

On my way from Nyamata town, Friday morning, I stopped to give a lift to an elderly lady who appeared to having trouble finding a bus to Kigali. For some reason, we struck a conversation on property and how hard it was to finance a construction project.

I learnt from our chitchat that she was a landlady in Nyamatatownship. In 1995, she was visionary enough to pay Rwf2500 for a big plot in Nyamata. Yes, Rwf2500. In 2005, she acquired another plot in Gahanga for just Rwf50,000. Meanwhile, her children couldn’t get it, then.
“You will stay there alone with wild animals.” They told her. “You’ll soon join me there, and it won’t be a village anymore.” She answered. She was right. They were wrong.

The old lady bought a village at a time when few were doing so; the town has since found her there and a plot half the size of what she bought at Rwf2500, costs Rwf5,000,000 or more today.

“Considering today’s rate of development, it doesn’t matter where you buy property, you can be assured of value, sooner than later,” the old lady noted. We should take her advice.

Views, expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the New Times Publications.


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