Former banker finds fortune in real estate

Enterprise

Former banker finds fortune in real estate


James Muturi Kimani, the managing director at AMCCO Properties Limited during the interview at his office in THE ARCARD along Thogoto-Mutarakwa Road. PHOTOS | MILLICENT MWOLOLO | NMG

In September 2020, James Muturi Kimani who had been in the transport business sold off all his lorries, consolidated his resources, and entered into real estate.

His transport business was paralyzed by lockdowns and was forced to scout for other opportunities. He set up AMCCO Properties Limited, a business that has witnessed growth since it was established.

“At the height of Covid-19 Nairobians were chasing any affordable land for residential. I saw that gap and I jumped in, that is how AMCCO Properties Limited was born,” says the former banker.

His business has grown rapidly thanks to the huge appetite for land and homes by the middle class.

AMCCO has implemented 12 projects so far – one in Kamulu, along Kangundo Road, and more than ten in Ndeiya sub-county in Kiambu.

But his main focus now is Ndeiya. The entrepreneur is banking on the rapidly rising fortunes of the area, a hot piece of real estate cake, to grow his business.

“The first time I drove into Ndeiya I could not believe why established real estate firms had not seen this opportunity. My second plot here was bought by a Chinese,” he says.

Land in Ndeiya had been appreciating rapidly in the last two years as Kenyans in diaspora and Nairobians have been eager to invest in the area following efforts by the government to transform the socio-economic prospects of the area.

One of the reasons investors are flocking into Ndeiya, lifting Mr. Kimani’s business, is the amenities and infrastructure projects implemented by the government. These include piped water, tarmacked road networks, upgrading of healthcare centers to level three, and investments in security.

New police stations in Ndeiya and a new OCPD in Thigio have beefed up security within the area.

Also, with the new Ndeiya status as a sub-county and various development projects, the businessman notes, the demand for land has been rising as the prices shoot through the roof.

“In the last three projects, we have been buying land for double the prices that we had bought a year ago. For instance in Kamangu, plots that were retailing at Sh550,000 in June 2021 are currently retailing at more than Sh850,000,” Mr Kimani tells Enterprise.

“With more people settling in, private schools and hospitals within Waiyaki Way, Dagoretti, Kawangware and Ngong Road are setting branches within Ndeiya and along the newly-tarmacked Dagoretti Road,” Mr Kimani says, noting that he is banking on Ndeiya because it is “so green and serene, and neighbors Karen which is just about 10 minutes away, as well as the busy Sigona, Tilisi and Zambezi areas.

Currently, an acre of land in Karen is retailing at about Sh35 million and Sh12 million in Tilisi while an acre within Ndeiya is about Sh3.5 million. Most of the Nairobians who were compensated by the government during the construction of Waiyaki Way bought land in Ndeiya, which saw land prices shoot in the area.

‘This place looks like Karen. The opportunity for growth was there but people were not seeing it…” he explains.

The bulk of their clientele is 60 percent women, aged between 27 years and 47 years. Diaspora customers make 10 percent of AMCCO clients.

“These are Kenyans born and raised in Kiambu and do not want to invest outside of Kiambu because they know the rate of appreciation of the land here is high. They are also looking for affordable properties in Kiambu,” Mr Kimani states.

Currently, AMCCO has three projects on-going in Ndeiya. Neema Court in Gikambura is retailing 50X100 plots at Sh1.5 million. The project is one kilometer from the tarmac. Kamangu Green Garden Phase III, about three kilometers from the tarmac and 10 minutes off the Southern by-pass is going at Sh650,000. In Thigio, along Ha-Koinange Road, Amcco Genesis Gardens Phase II is retailing at Sh799,000.

“The difference in pricing is part of our product diversification so that we can cater to different consumer segments with pocket-friendly budgets,” he says.

Due to the good road networks and easy traffic, the neighborhood favors Nairobians working in Westlands, Ngong Road, and Nairobi CBD. AMCCO sells land that the company already owns with title deeds in its name.

“It takes 90 days for us to issue title deeds to customers after finalizing payment,” he says.

The neighborhood has become more cosmopolitan with the locals having sold their land parcels.

Previously, land in Kamulu was more expensive than in Ndeiya. “However, within one year, the prices matched and by the end of this year, land in Ndeiya is expected to be more expensive than what we have in Kamulu, adds the MD.

An ongoing challenge is that land prices within Ndeiya area have in the last two years kept on doubling every six months, and the sellers are not ready to lower the prices, “it is either you take it or leave it”.

This is unlike before when no one wanted to settle in Ndeiya due to the harsh environment, and the lack of social amenities. Back then, the locals used donkeys to ferry water over long distances.

However, with piped water connection by the Kiambu County government, life in the area has completely changed. Since 1991, Ndeiya had no new land titles until June this year when President Uhuru Kenyatta issued title deeds to the locals.

With the new titles, land prices have not only gone up, but this will help to resolve any existing land issues.

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