App connects prospective land buyers with genuine deals

Dominic Gachuma

Dominic Gachuma founder My property Kenya site during an interview at Nation Centre on September 15,2023.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Purchasing a piece of land in Kenya remains one of the most dreaded investments due to the high number of unscrupulous dealers, especially if you’re making the purchase while in diaspora.

A closer look reveals that most of the dishonest dealers thrive because of the gaps in the system and lack of accountability.

Dominic Gachuma, a lawyer and engineer, was shocked a year ago when he learned that his close friends living in different countries were victims of land fraud.

“The one that shocked me most was one of a friend who had lost Sh3 million while purchasing a piece of land, only to learn that it was not genuine when it was too late,” says Gachuma.

According to data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, in 2016 alone, there were over 6,000 cases of land fraud.

“In one of the cases, a friend asked me to investigate the state of a property he was interested in, and after involving the relevant experts, we found out it was a scam. We had to halt the plans. With this, I learned that if all these experts were found on one platform, it would make land frauds a thing of the past,” he says.

Gachuma came up with a platform that would not only guarantee buyers access to honest deals, but also have insurance in case of any loss.

The platform dubbed My Property in Kenya (My PIK) is valuable in that it brings together land purchasers and professionals who include lawyers, quantity surveyors, land valuers, surveyors, architects and insurance firms.

Land owners are required to upload a copy of their title deeds and any relevant document on the website. They also are needed to provide their contact information, which includes email address and mobile phone number.

“From what’s provided, the team of experts that I work with will offer utmost professionalism where a report will be uploaded to the client's email. The client will make their decision whether to proceed with the purchase or not, but we will have done our due diligence,” he says, adding that his company has also partnered with well-known advocates dealing with land matters.

Before the client gets their title deed, they will insure their money, in case there is fraud.

“We will insure the clients’ money with an insurance company they choose from the platform, until the process of purchasing the property is complete,” he adds.

According to Gachuma, land is a very valuable asset because of its finiteness and the fact that it constantly appreciates, making it an ideal investment.

“There are numerous economic activities that one can perform a piece on land. This, coupled with the fact that the world population is ever increasing, land everywhere keeps on appreciating in value, consequently attracting an upsurge in demand,” he explains.

According to Gachuma, most buyers are lazy or don’t have time to do due diligence before purchasing property, therefore making them settle for easy deals.

“As a buyer, you need to be aware of the possible pitfalls to avoid being a victim when purchasing land, lest you find yourself deep in endless court battles or having lost your hard-earned money to swindlers, or your developed property being taken away,” he adds.

Despite the open knowledge on the steps one should take to ensure safety, the government has not managed to come up with a one-stop office for these verifications.

“A proper structure like My PIK platform ensures that one can always track their transactions and security of their property is always guaranteed,” says Gachuma.

He adds that due to the increasing demand for land, a lot of dealers are finding it easy to scam unsuspecting buyers.

“Our product aims at helping buyers to comfortably own property and find value for their money. We do a comprehensive land search on their behalf to avoid scamming and con games,” he says.

The platform also provides an insurance cover to help protect the buyer’s money when purchasing the property.

“It works in the same way as car insurance works to cushion the owner in case of an accident,” he adds.

The platform will help deal with dishonesty in this help because I have brought in all qualified people who help in buying land.

Gachuma notes that once the company is done investigating on the validity and documentation, the client will pay some a fee, before proceeding with the insurance cover.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with some of the leading insurance companies in the country,” says Gachuma.

He says the process takes at most two weeks, which allows the company to visit the site and government lands office. It applies both in land and house acquisitions.

“For houses, we give you information that includes the history of who owned the land before construction,” he adds.

Gachuma uses technology to bring about solutions in various sectors.

They not only serve fresh land buyers, but also existing ones, that may need to constantly check on the status of their property.

“We are also offering service to those who have already bought land and need to know if their property is safe,” he adds.

“It's high time Kenyans realise buying land is not a simple process as it involves a number of steps, including a clear reason for the purchase, and on our platform we have incorporated all that you need,” he noted.