With shallow pockets and no godfathers, how youth are buying property

Wednesday June 09 2021
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Many youth are not able to quickly mobilise the resources needed to acquire property but through cultivating a saving culture and seeking credit, they can buy property. /PHOTO/net

By Christine Kasemiire

He had heard from around the town that there was an elderly but vibrant woman selling a piece of her land in Nkozi, close to Uganda Martyrs University.

At the time, Nkozi did not have the status and population it does now. In 2003, a young Vincent Agaba acquired the land.

“A quarter of an acre at Shs3m,” he says.  Agaba was neither employed nor earning from any other source. It was from his pocket money that he saved money to acquire the sizeable land.

“When I was at Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi they would give me pocket money of around Shs500,000. I went down to the village and found this old lady selling a piece of land. It took me about one year to clear the entire bill,” he narrates.

But for Agaba, that was only the genesis of what turned out to be a lengthy hurdle.

For about a year, distanced from the land as he was away from the village, the young lad returned to an encumbered asset. The land housed cows whose owner was a mystery.

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“When I came back, I found cows on my land. On inquiry, the old lady apologised and informed me that she had sold the land to someone else while I was away. Calm and collected, and since I had no option, I asked the old lady for an alternative,” he goes on to say.

With the help of the local council, the old lady handed Agaba a different piece of land. The land was inferior and further from the main road than his initial acquisition.

The other pain came from the surveyors. As Agaba recounts, he spent a lot of money in search of a land title with the help of surveyors who spent about two years before delivering it.

It all proved worthwhile after 10 years when Agaba sold the land for five times more than the purchase price.

Thirty-year-old Brian Mwase had a softer landing. After numerous business ventures, the young man saved money and bought a 40 by 100 plot of land in Gayaza in January.

“I had a business selling second hand shoes before I transitioned to first hand. I then moved into fashion which I left for electronics. Throughout the five year journey, I was saving money alongside earnings from my actual job,” Mwase says.

Timing matters

It was also about the right timing. 

He adds: “Through an old friend, who is also the vice chairperson of the area, I got wind of someone selling land in Gayaza. I quickly bought the plot at Shs6m,” he says, adding that with the help of the vice chairperson, he mitigated the risk of being duped.

However, he is yet to obtain the land title. It would have cost more for him to do it all at the same time. He plans to get the title after two years when he has saved up enough money.

For those youth that were not bequeathed property as inheritance from family, you can still get it.  The difference is it might not be in the city centre.

Agaba says there is need to readjust youth’s aspirations of land and property acquisitions to starting small.

“Our youth should stop thinking about owning a building on Kampala Road, they should go to the villages. Land that is very cheap in rural areas, its value changes 10 years later as long as the population is increasing,” he urges.

What stands between youth and owning property, Agaba says is interest which breeds determination.  He argues it is not about lack of finance. With the income youth spend on scrumptious meals at the likes of Café Javas, one can own property.

“The youth we are talking about today are dressed in the latest designer wear and own expensive phones. It is not about the lack of finance but where we put the little money we get.  Even with Shs500,000 you can buy a piece of land in a remote village,” he explains adding that the structural challenges embedded in property acquisition in Uganda call for a very determined youth lest they lose hope and give up.

The reality is the aspect of finances cannot be ignored. Majority of youth, especially those in Kampala earn an average of Shs1million which caters to both their needs and family. Little can be saved.

Financial assistance

Yunus Babuwaire, manager for mortgage and personal banking at Housing Finance Bank, says there are financial solutions tailored by financial institutions that can aid youth acquire property.

“An average youth in Uganda will not have Shs200m to buy a plot of land in Kulambiro. And because we know about 80 per cent of the land in Uganda is not titled, if a youth wants to buy land that is not titled, we have flexibility and can accept to finance acquisition of property or land in that arrangement,” he says.

The bank, Babuwaire states, also has partnerships with developers who build affordable housing for the youth between Shs20m to Shs100m.

Cognizant of the fact that not many youth have property as collateral for loans, the bank looks to the youth’s income for those in formal employment.

“When you come, you identify the land you want, we assess you based on your income and payroll. But for those youths without formal employment, we are advising them to get into investment groups,” he says.

The bank finances the savings groups to acquire property which can be divided among the youth members in informal employment.

What is your property experience?

Tom Ryan Kalule, businessman

I would prefer investing in real estate if I am to own property. I am thinking of acquiring property, however there are many challenges with investing in real estate. Your financial situation determines the quality of the property, and whether you are ready to make a sizeable investment.

Bibian Kagoda, social worker

It is everyone’s dream to acquire property. It is something I am also eyeing but it is not easy because aside from the big sacrifices you have to endure, you must have enough money to get something good. Having property saves you a great deal when you need emergency money, it also pushes you to think hard for acquisition process.

Moses Osiya, LDC student

Acquiring property is a good thing, your property can always help you in times of need for quick money that you can easily dispose of one. In addition, properties act as security and can be used as a collateral for bank loans. Properties in our society setting define one’s status and weight.

Shan Nakazibwe, businesswoman

I want to buy property and I believe it requires financial discipline and commitment, if you give equal attention to the two you will achieve your dream. Financial discipline helps you apportion your savings towards a targeted goal and the commitment keeps you in check.

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