What you need to know:
- Amity Realtors has become one of the leading real estate firms in the western region by prioritising innovations on how to improve property management and investment decisions.
- To achieve this, Herbert Tushabe relies on his knowledge as an information technology expert to implement real estate tech trends such as virtual reality and social media.
Herbert Tushabe has established himself as the to-go-to real estate agent in Mbarara City and surrounding areas. The founder and executive director of Amity Realtors, Tushabe has taken strides in formalising the real estate industry in the western region. Founded in 2020, the company’s portfolio consists of more than 6000 plots, 60 estates and 500 clients and has branches in Kabingo Town Council, Isingiro District and Rubare Town Council in Ntungamo District.
Born in Rwobuyenje, Kakiika in Mbarara City, Tushabe went to Mbarara Pentecostal Primary School, Mbarara High school and then Kyambogo University for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.
After graduation, Tushabe worked as an IT expert for different companies before choosing to start a community school. Unfortunately, the pandemic broke out shortly after he had invested all his savings into the school.
“As the school like all the rest was shut down, I began to despair because it was my only sources of income. I had a family to care for and other responsibilities. I needed to make money fast. As the economy was in lockdown, I did not have many opportunities for getting a new job. The obvious choice was starting my own business,” Tushabe says.
But without capital, Tushabe had no hope until he met a seasoned real estate agent. After getting the basics of the industry from the agent, Tushabe opened a Facebook page launching his journey into real estate.
“I used my IT expertise to run my new real estate business. I would look for people who had land and use my platform to market it, the first time I used it I got over 20 inquiries,” says Tushabe.
In addition to the Facebook page, he boosted his reach using WhatsApp and phone contacts and the people around him.
Tushabe has since discovered that real estate is one of the few businesses that can be started without any capital.
“It is a business based on trust and integrity. From the first day, people were trusting me with their properties and their money. The only investment I put in was my innovation by using my social platforms to connect buyers to sellers,” he says.
Tushabe was eager to learn more about the industry and if possible find ways to make it better.
“I realized that in Mbarara the real estate industry was lacked formalization so, I set out to professionalise it. Land sale agreements were still being handwritten on pieces of paper and there was no real estate agent’s office. Deals were being cut in corridors and streets. I knew this system could not survive with the new city status and I worked fast setting up a website and an office,” he says.
His office has since started listing properties online, offering virtual tours, geographical pins and using drones to take more accurate photos of clients’ properties. He says his efforts were at first met with suspicion but he explained to other industry players that the changes were good for them all in the long run.
Without capital to invest, Amity started off by selling properties for other agents for commission. However, as time went on Tushabe realized he could not live on commissions. He needed to make the amount of money worth his efforts.
“We decided to start buying and selling own properties. All I had was Shs5m I had made in commission from one of the land sales, which was not enough to buy profitable properties. So I decided to talk to property owners to trust us with their properties; we would give them some money to tide them over as we marketed and sold their properties,” he says.
The first property the company invested in was a half-acre of land which they sold within two days and made a profit of Shs20m. Since then, the company has bought estates in Katebe and Kakiika, found in Mbarara City North.
“Our initial transaction stressed to me the importance of gaining public trust. We handles all our dealings with agents and property owners with integrity so it was easy to get clients to trust us with their properties even if we did not have cash,” says the real estate investor.
Growth and success
Tushabe attributes the company’s success to God, integrity and innovation.
“God was on our side but we also positioned ourselves as a trusted real estate company, we committed to remain transparent and to do things openly. Because of this, people believe in us, imagine someone giving you their farm without paying any coin. This shows you the goodwill and the great opportunities in this industry,” says Tushabe.
To reward this goodwill, Amity also developed a model that was easy to make land acquisitions affordable and convenient through selling land in installments.
“Our main target are the low-income earners. We created a payment plan that makes it easy for everyone to acquire land. Our land starts as low as Shs3m that is paid off in installments over a convenient period,” he says.
Amity Realtors found it easy to penetrate the market because the industry players in the region were comfortable with small transactions.
“The competition was not so stiff because the players we found here were not formal and were comfortable going with the flow instead of setting the pace and of the industry. They also failed to learn their market; some players assume people have money in this region, but people do not have stable incomes because as farmers, they depend on seasons. We were able to make a difference by creating land acquisition modules to suit their lifestyles and incomes,” he adds.
Another factor that has made Tushabe and Amity Realtors leaders in the industry is understanding the power of advertising and branding and how to make the most of it.
Amity Realtors is now look at partnerships especially from the government to improve the housing sector. As the city grows, he notes that there is an urgent need for providing quality and affordable housing for all.
“The city continues to attract people from all over the region in search of a better life. But when they come here, they find themselves piling into slums because the available accommodation is not affordable to them. This is why a number of slums are spring up in the city suburbs. We can make a difference if we got partnerships with either the government or other development agencies to be able to construct homes that people can pay for at a subsidised cost,” explains Tushabe.
Ways to attract the biggest real estate buying group
According to FinanceOnline, millennials remain the largest buyers in the real estate industry. Here are three core ways to attract the biggest buying group of the market:
Distinguish popular features
Besides having the necessary features, your product needs to have features that are currently in demand. This way you will be able to keep customers longer on your platform. The whole impression of your company will be more positive, which will be needless to say with all the closed deals.
Improve your online listings
Listings matter. It is the buyers’ first impression of their possible future home. That is why it should be perfect. To provide the best user experience, work on the mobile version of your website, upload only high-quality photos, and allow your buyers to see the building inside out by using virtual tours.