Digital Transformation In Real Estate. Property Management Is Now Digital.
Property Management Systems have increased efficiency in
this sector since they provide a centralized location where agents can organize,
schedule and perform day-to-day functions such as collecting rent and
addressing tenants’ needs.
The use of Property Management Systems (PMS) is revolutionizing
the real estate residential and commercial property management in Kenya. It is
helping real estate agents and landlords efficiently and affordably manage
their rental units. Not only this, this software is helping property agents and
landlords to better understand their tenants, their needs, their behaviors and
Even more important, PMS has reduced property management
costs as everything is done virtually from paying of rent, receipting of
payments, to lodging of maintenance service requests by tenants. The system
processes rent payments in real time, into tenants’ accounts, and copies this
to the agent’s accounts and landlord’s accounts. This saves on time improves
efficiency and is user-friendly and convenient for the tenant.
Property management firms, Fanaka Rentals and KenyaSoko Real
Estate, use PMS to manage their businesses. Nicholas Ngatia, the business
development manager, Kenyasoko Real Estate, says that the use of this digital software
has made work easier. “The use of PMS has replaced manual filing of
records, for instance, which involved filing a lot of paper work.”he says,
Before the firm installed the system in 2017, it had a file
for each apartment they managed. It was cumbersome going through many sheets of
data whenever they needed to access particular information. This system has
also made Fanaka Rentals’s job more efficient “This is especially so for
communication, it gets done faster, and so does processing of rent payment,
house bookings and vacant houses. The system has also eliminated the hassle
associated with house-hunting, “says Moses Muriithi, the CEO of the
Tenants too are enjoying the efficiency that comes with
these digital systems. Ignatius Opondo who lives in Utawala, says that the firm
that manages the flats he lives in uses PMS. Having been a tenant where everything
was done manually he says that all property managing firms should install this
system because it has made life easier for everyone. “Whenever I make a
payment, my count updates automatically I am able to access my rent payment
statements and balances in real time, “says Mr Opondo.
In 2021, he used the system to switch to a new house without
the exhausting and time-consuming process that comes with physically searching
for a house. “I could see from the system that not far from where I lived,
there was a new one-bed room house which was vacant. I just put a vacation
notice and booked into the new house through the system.” he explains,
adding that the software has also reduced the turn-around time it takes to get
repairs done after reporting.
“For instance, a month ago, my shower stopped working.I
just took a photo of it and uploaded it into the system and the agent
immediately responded with a call and set an appointment with a plumber.” Musau
Kithuka is a former lecturer who has contracted an agency that uses PMS to
manage his rental units in Mwiki and in Athi River “They have been using
it since 2019, and it has relieved me of the pressure to have to force tenants
to pay rent on time,” says Dr Kithuka, noting that the system is
consistent and accurate.
The software has also disciplined his spending and helps him
manage his rental income “Previously I could access the rental income anytime,
now, the system allows me to withdraw money just twice a month, therefore I am
able to save, savings that eam an interest.”
Kithuka is now a happy landlord and does not regret selling his
three matatus that operated along Jogoo Road in Nairobi and investing this
money on property. “My matatu income was a big feast for Mungiki, rogue
traffic police officers, drivers, conductors and city council askaris. After
two years of frustration. I sold them and invested in real estate.”
In 2007, he bought his first apartment in Athi River, which
was already occupied, and in 2009, he bought another apartment in Mwiki, also
occupied, and continued collecting rent. Then, everything was done manually from
collection of rent, issuing of receipts to maintenance. With the PMS system in
place, every aspect of running his apartments is easier and more efficient.
Samira Hannif, a landlord in Utawala whose units are also
managed by a digital system, is also a happy business woman. “I am able to
tell which units are vacant, any new occupancies and who has not paid their
rent. This makes it easy to plan for my money as a landlord,” says Ms
Hannif, explaining that the system can also be used to resolve rent payment
disputes because it keeps accurate records and accounts for every cent.
Commenting on other benefits of the system, Fanaka Rentals
CEO. Munithi, says that investing in this system has given his firm the power
to go beyond collecting rent on behalf of his clients to ensuring that
investors their money on time, and according to subdivision formula
“For families and groups that have invested on property
together, the system is able to disburse the funds into their accounts
according to the subdivision formula that they have given us,”he explains,
Besides, the system is automatically able to pay any
statutory deductions that are due, making it easy for investors to comply with
Still, for investment groups, the SokoSacco PMS is able to
not only collect rent on their behalf, but to also disburse it into each
investors accounts using an agreed on formula, while the KenyaSoko PMS sends
reminders to tenants when rent is due, and gives an incentive. (Sh200 discount)
to those who pay by the fifth of each month, as for those that pay after the
tenth, the system penalizes them 10 percent of the rent due.
Goodbye to manual records
The elimination of bulk record keeping is what motivated
both firms to invest in this software. “We had already ran out of space
due to increasing paperwork. For instance, to trace a single payment for each
housing unit, we either had to print M-Pesa statements or bank statements and then
file them in that particular apartment’s file,” Ngatia notes.
Such bulk filing, besides being a time water, also poses a
security risk, points out Muriithi. “Most landlords do not like it because
there is no privacy of their accounts, yet property managers have to do it for
accountability purposes.” he explains
With digital management systems, such payment records can be
traced with the click of a button, and it is more secure as only the landlord
or property manager is authorized by the system to access such data.
With the use of PMS, tenants are also able to request for
house repairs from their interface, after which real estate managers send the
appropriate technician at the agreed on time. Managing firms keep a database of
construction technicians and contacts of service providers such as Kenya Power
and City Water & Sewerage Company in the areas where they operate.
There is no doubt that these systems are a time saver, hence
enabling property managers to concentrate on growing their businesses and
improving their services. “Initially, we would handle each house and
landlord separately now, the system has centralized all the properties that we manage.
Due to this, we have reduced the number of staff yet are still able to serve
our clients even better because we operate efficiently” observes Ngatia.