Buying a Home in Kenya

Seasoned expatriates recommend a cautious approach to newcomers eager to settle down—avoid the rush to purchase property upon arrival. Instead, consider the benefits of renting in Kenya during your initial months. This strategy allows you the flexibility to explore various neighborhoods and truly decide if the local lifestyle aligns with your long-term expectations. Once you've acclimated and are certain that Kenya is your future home, here are tips on how to buy a home in Kenya.
|-Buying a Home in Kenya

Kenya, with its diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and growing economy, is an attractive destination for expatriates. Whether you’re moving for work, retirement, or simply to enjoy a new lifestyle, buying a home in Kenya can be a rewarding investment. However, the process can be complex, especially for foreigners. This guide aims to provide you with essential information on how to navigate the Kenyan real estate market, from finding a property to understanding legal requirements and avoiding potential pitfalls.

How Do I Find Houses for Sale in Kenya?

There are several ways to find houses for sale in Kenya. Online property portals such as BuyRentKenya and Property24 are popular platforms that list properties from all over the country. Local newspapers also regularly feature property listings. Additionally, hiring a local real estate agent can be beneficial as they have in-depth knowledge of the market and can help you find a property that suits your needs and budget.

Are There Restrictions on Foreigners Owning Property in Kenya?

Yes, there are restrictions on foreigners owning property in Kenya. The Constitution of Kenya allows foreigners to own land on a leasehold basis for a period not exceeding 99 years. Freehold ownership is reserved for Kenyan citizens. However, a foreigner can legally circumvent this restriction by forming a company in Kenya. The company, which can be 100% foreign-owned, can then purchase freehold land.

Does Kenya Have an MLS Type System?

Kenya does not have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) like in the United States. However, there are several online property portals and real estate agencies that provide comprehensive property listings. It’s advisable to use these resources or hire a reputable real estate agent to help you navigate the market.

Do Brokers Have Licenses and How Do I Know if They are Licensed?

Yes, real estate brokers in Kenya are required to be licensed by the Estate Agents Registration Board (EARB). To verify if a broker is licensed, you can check their registration status on the EARB’s official website. Dealing with a licensed broker provides a level of protection as they are regulated by the board.

What Documents are Required When Buying a Home?

When buying a home in Kenya, you will need several documents. These include a copy of the seller’s title deed, a land rates clearance certificate, a land rent clearance certificate (for leasehold properties), and a consent to transfer from the relevant land control board or county government. Additionally, you will need a sale agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of the sale.

Do I Need a Lawyer When Buying a Home in Kenya?

Yes, it’s highly recommended to hire a lawyer when buying a home in Kenya. The lawyer will conduct a title search, prepare the sale agreement, and facilitate the transfer of the title deed. The legal fees for conveyancing services are regulated by the Law Society of Kenya and typically range from 1.5% to 2% of the property’s value.

Do People Typically Buy a Property with All Cash or Take Out a Mortgage?

Both cash purchases and mortgages are common in Kenya. The choice largely depends on the buyer’s financial situation. Mortgages are available from Kenyan banks, but the interest rates can be high. It’s important to carefully consider your financing options and seek professional advice if necessary.

Are There Inspections That Take Place, and If So What is That Process Like?

Yes, property inspections are a crucial part of the home buying process in Kenya. A professional surveyor will conduct a land survey to confirm the property’s boundaries and ensure there are no encroachments. Additionally, a structural inspection of the house may be conducted to identify any potential issues. It’s advisable to include a clause in the sale agreement that allows you to withdraw from the purchase if significant problems are found during the inspection.

What Are Some of the Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Property in Kenya?

One of the main pitfalls to avoid when buying property in Kenya is dealing with unlicensed brokers or fraudulent sellers. Always verify the broker’s license and the seller’s ownership of the property. Additionally, be wary of properties with unresolved land disputes or unpaid land rates, as these can lead to legal complications. Lastly, ensure you fully understand the terms of the sale agreement before signing, and don’t rush the process. Take your time to conduct thorough due diligence.

Expats Talk about Real Estate in Kenya

“Although Kenyans are generally good people, don’t trust everyone. It’s a very corrupt country. Oh, one more thing, don’t be late to get home, car jacking and robbery at night are common,” said one expat living in Nairobi, the whole country.

“Choose a safe neighborhood with many expats. Gated compounds with security and alarm systems are good,” wrote a member in Mombasa.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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