Real estate developers are often asked why they should spend money to enhance common services when they would be clear of the development before such matters come to a head.
Should they not just make their money and walk away? While the answer might seem obvious, there are complex challenges that developers must deal with. There are two simple choices: Either create and build a brand and be prepared to spend the money necessary to do so, or keep costs to the bare minimum, take the profits and move on to the next opportunity.
In real estate development terms, sustainability means a well-planned and well-serviced housing estate that will endure over the long-term. Brand The value of a recognisable brand in real estate is immeasurable.
It will lead to loyal clients and recurring business opportunities in the long-term. Having a sustainable development is an important element of the brand building process. A developer should come back to an occupied housing estate 20 years later and still find it well maintained, clean and with attractive landscaping.
There should be no unplanned extensions, no overloaded services but a community of contented homeowners. However, good intentions don’t always make this happen. We don’t need to look beyond Buru Buru to attest to this.
During the planning phase for our Greenpark project, the architects of Buru Buru were kind enough to meet with us and share their experiences so that we could apply some lessons learned to our development. There were shared aspirations in terms of sustainability.
Unfortunately, one of the key reasons for the failure of some of the sustainability aspects of the original, well-planned Buruburu was the use of title deeds that gave homeowners free reign to extend houses and overdevelop their plots
. It was for this reason that we decided to sell leaseholds, which are fully transaction documents, but with a deed of covenants or estate rules and regulations that can be attached and legally enforced.
Effective rules and regulations should have an efficient policing system, which is essential for a developer’s objectives of a clean, secure, well-maintained estate. In turn, these objectives will be aligned with our buyers who will not have any problem accepting the format.
All house buyers are entitled to a share in an estate management company, which sets service charge levels, manages the estate, and takes action against rule-breakers.
This model of self-policing has an added in that it helps to create a sense of ownership while encouraging the building of a community with a larger degree of self-determination regarding costs and the quality of life within the estate.
Even with the desire to build sustainably, it is easy for a developer to have his or her aspirations derailed during the construction phase or soon after the development is occupied. It should be borne in mind that certain things are beyond the developer’s control.
For example, water and power supply are controlled by other independent entities. Breakdown If there are frequent breakdowns in the provision of such services, this affects the long-term sustainability of the estate.
Then there is the matter of insufficient resources available to maintain the development of common areas as a result of a failure to collect service charge. Roads, street lighting and drainage systems will be neglected and begin to fall into disrepair.
This could be costly to reverse. In short, a sustainable development is highly desirable for developers and residents and it can only be achieved through good planning, high quality execution and regular maintenance.
For this to happen, homeowners and residents must be prepared to pay a reasonable amount to keep their estates in good order or pay the higher price of living amidst neglect and disorder.
— The writer is the Managing Director of Superior Homes Kenya Limited.