Constraints to acquisition and ownership or residential houses in Kenya : a study of residents of Kasarani estate, Nairobi
Kariuki, Antony Nderitu
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Housing is an important basic need and focus of social concern and should be seen as one of the key elements of social policy. The declining economic performance in the country in the 1990s with the attendant high levels of unemployment and poverty made it difficult for a large number of people to afford quality housing. The housing problems in urban areas are also closely linked to the rural-urban migration of citizens in search of better economic prospects. Prevailing high unemployment levels, low investment in housing and infrastructure development by the public sector, high cost of finance and limited availability or lack of services have exacerbated this situation. Due to the rising population rate and the rural-urban migration, there has been a great demand for urban housing which has not been met by quality supply of housing. There is therefore a need to look at the factors that impede on acquisition of owner occupied houses. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the financial constraints that affect the acquisition of houses by middle income groups in Nairobi, by specifically investigating the factors that affect affordability. This included an examination of various possible sources of funds for financing house acquisition by middle income groups. The study targeted a sample of 61 household heads residing in Kasarani estate of Nairobi city who were selected using the random sampling method. Data was collected using interview schedules administered personally by the researcher. The data was coded and entered into computer spreadsheets and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The results showed that only 10% of the Kasarani residents in the sample owned their residential houses with 77% of them staying in rented houses while the remaining proportion either stayed with their parents or received a house as a gift. It was however noted that almost all the respondents interviewed indicated they had an intention to own their residential houses. This interest was followed with a variety of strategies to achieve the desired dream of owning a home. The major strategy adopted was savings from monthly income which 54% percent saved in commercial banks while 33% invested their savings in stock markets and another 10% indicated they used a combination of bank savings and investments in stock market. Nonetheless, only 10% indicated they had acquired a plot for construction of a residential house despite a large proportion (67%) indicating they would wish to construct their own houses other than buy an already built house. It was shown that the major impediments to obtaining financial support from financial institution was largely a function of the individual perception of the cost of the funds. The results showed that 85% of the respondents believed the cost of funds from financial institutions were not affordable. It was only 15% who indicated they were affordable. This could be the reason only 63% had made attempts to approach a financial institution. It was amazing that only two sources were approached with commercial banks receiving 80% of the enquiries and micro-finances receiving the remaining 20%. Other sources including cooperatives that received favorable ratings, building societies and mortgages did were not approached by any of the respondents. The study therefore recommended a formulation of a tailor made package by financial institutions that fits the requirements and needs of the low income groups and the middle income groups.