Grace, a homeowner who took the risk, shares her experiences on servicing a house loan.
“I previously lived in a two-bedroom flat in South B where I was paying rent of Sh35,000. A year into the two-year lease, my landlord increased the rent without notice by 100 per cent. I refused to move and pay the extra he demanded.
He called lawyers, threatened to bring auctioneers. I eventually moved to another house in our complex where I continued to pay Sh35,000. Agents managed the house, though, and they penalised me if I didn’t pay my rent by the third of every month. I remember I once paid it on the fifth and they told me I had to pay an extra Sh5,000 for penalties. That’s when I told myself, ‘Enough is enough.’
I’m also a single mother of two daughters. I wasn’t getting any younger. I wanted a place in Nairobi that my family and I can call home.
I’d been engaging with people servicing mortgages. I have a friend who’d taken one immediately she began working at 25.
We would laugh at her because we didn’t understand why she’d burden herself with such a huge financial obligation at only 25. Yet at 33, when I was ready to take my mortgage, she was onto her second and was renting out her first home.
I’m a disciplined saver. I’ve had a check-off system for my savings for as long as I can remember. I’d also invested in land in the outskirts of the city.
I considered building a house there but I couldn’t imagine living in the middle of nowhere with just my daughter and me.
I got a three-bedroom flat in Eastlands being sold for Sh6.1 million through a tenant purchase scheme. The house sat in a gated community and NSSF was the property owner.
I could acquire the house through their bank-backed tenant purchase scheme. They asked for a letter of introduction from my employer.
I was on contract. I sweet-talked our human resource manager to write that I was a permanent and pensionable employee. I also told our accountant to, uhm, massage the figures in my payslip to reflect a healthier salary.
I think I’d still have been eligible for the mortgage, only that the processing time would have taken longer than the two weeks it took mine.
I’d not done thorough research, though. I was aware of only the 10 per cent down payment but not the other related fees.
I pulled Sh800,000 from my savings for this – 10 per cent went to deposit of the house, one per cent to stamp duty and something to legal fees. Land rates and insurance took around Sh43,000.
I still continue to pay land rates and insurance annually. In properties where the mortgage is financed through an independent financial institution, a valuation of the property is done, and there is a fee surcharged.
I got the keys to my house in August 2013. We didn’t move in until December because my daughter was in the middle of her kindergarten school year in South B.
We moved into our home in quiet celebration and in time for Christmas. My heart still swells with gratitude knowing I own the roof over my head.
I lost my job in 2017, and got my second child in 2018. I had an emergency fund that kept my family and me afloat for six months after becoming jobless.
The funds gradually ran out and we operated on a shoestring budget after. I reached out to a family member to settle my mortgage for two months while I continued to hustle. I never defaulted.
I considered leaving the country for my master’s degree then get a job abroad, but I shelved the plan because I couldn’t afford to be out of work for that long. I eventually got a permanent job in early 2019.
Servicing my mortgage drives me to work harder and appreciate the value of money, big or small. In 2013, I was repaying Sh78,000 per month, which was very strenuous.
I started pumping in money into the principal each time I got something extra. I pumped in about Sh1 million over a period, and my monthly repayments have gone down to Sh63,000. I also discovered I could get a tax rebate from KRA.
I’m keen to reduce it further and settle the mortgage in five years, then build my retirement home out of Nairobi.”
Bett Kinyatti is a certified accountant with ACCA and a former financial auditor. She runs a personal finance column with Daily Nation online