Reflecting on owning a home in Kilimani
Robyn Emerson and Irũngũ Houghton were interviewed by Nancy Muthoni of the KTN Property Show, Sunday 2nd November 2015. Below is the interview. To watch the clip view start at 34:54 https://youtu.be/y5_4C-NfxC0?t=2094
How did you start the journey to home ownership?
Irũngũ Houghton: This is the second house I have owned. I sold a house in Runda to come live in Kilimani. I found Runda very exclusive and wanted a home closer to the city. I liked the feel of Kilimani. Robyn Emerson: I owned my first home at age 20 in Austin. It is always to pay a mortgage than pay someone else’s.
What strategies did you take to own a home?
Irũngũ Houghton: I studied which banks had the best fixed rates. Unfortunately, the bank I was with then didnt have the best rate so I shifted banks. I stayed there for four years. A couple of years later after selling the Runda house, I looked around again and changed banks for the second time. When shopping for a mortgage important to look beyond your personal bank. Robyn Emerson: Identifying the home comes first, affordability, needs, securing a down payment through my savings and a family loan, educating myself on mortgage financing,
What challenges have you encountered?
Irũngũ Houghton: Interest rates are daunting, no wonder there is only 22,000 mortgages in a country of 43 million. We need to make this available to all by bringing this down to a single digit. Decent and adequate housing is a basic right but without a radical restructuring of the housing industry this will remain an uncashable cheque not just for those in Kilimani but Eastleigh, Kariobangi and Kibera as well. Robyn Emerson: Kilimani is rapidly changing, our neighbor’s 1/2 acre and single dwelling house just got sold and a 40 unit apartment bloc is underway. Managing the construction within the bylaws of not working over the weekend etc has been a major challenge. Staying knowledgeable of County bylaws and policies is a challenge for most of us home-owners. Another of our neighbors has built a chicken and chips restaurant in his garden and the doors open onto a major road without consulting on change of use. He continues to resist the County’s attempts to stop him.
What would you say are your home’s best features?
Irũngũ Houghton: I like the intimacy of a medium size house. Love the way the sun floods the sitting room in the afternoons. I love the rapport we have with our neighbors. Over the last five years we have become quite close. Recently, we climbed Mt Kilimanjaro with them. Robyn Emerson: I love the driveway. It is an unexpected beauty behind the gate. It is welcoming to come home to. I love the garden, love the birds that come to visit. Location is critical.
What would you say is the beauty of owning a house?
Irũngũ Houghton: Freedom to change the look and feel, upgrade the plumbing etc Invested in opening up walls, the mazeras wall, the french doors to the garden, the kitchen table, creation of a bigger room downstairs. Finding the right contractor, overseeing the changes, value for money Robyn Emerson: Equity and also the opportunity to leverage the equity to invest in other properties or hand down a property of value
What is your advice to aspiring home owners?
Irũngũ Houghton: Look around, look around and look around some more. I looked at 40 houses before I settled on this one. Be bold. I looked at several homes across Westlands, Kileleshwa and Kilimani, only to find a house on the road I was already living on and made an offer within 24 hours Robyn Emerson: Patience and have enough finances to buy and live comfortably after you have bought the house. Keep saving. Investigate the building projections in your area. Know your rights and responsibilities as a home-owner
Do you have a parting shot?
Irũngũ Houghton: Homes are enlivened by the wider community. After Robyn, I and some residents formed the Kilimani Project Foundation a new possibility of relatedness opened up for us. This is not just a home for us, but a community of dynamic and interesting people. We continue to volunteer in this and other communities. Rent or buy a home and then go build a community.