Paul Kinoti built his real estate consultancy business in Mombasa, starting off as a waged employee barely surviving on a monthly salary to an entrepreneur of no mean repute.
He is director of Avanti Corps Limited Consultants which deals in the lucrative housing business in the Coast region.
His impressive office in the upmarket Nyali Estate exudes success.
“I was employed for almost seven years where in total I made less than Sh3 million. The year I left employment I made Sh5 million in commissions,” said Mr Kinoti, a geography graduate of Moi University.
Mr Kinoti went to Mombasa in search of a job in 2008 and still keeps his bus ticket as a souvenir.
He applied for many jobs in vain, but was eventually employed as an office administrator. After working without pay he quit to join another company where he earned barely enough to live on.
“I lived in a one room house in Magongo. I was always late to pay rent. I often stayed in town for long hours waiting for fare to drop from the peak time Sh70 to Sh20. One day I walked from town to my younger brother’s hostel in Tudor to ask for fare,” he said.
Mr Kinoti was able to supplement his income by teaching at a college in the evening. In October 2010 Mr Kinoti secured a better paying job, earning a monthly salary of Sh30,000.
Over time it was raised to Sh60,000 but the urge to set up his own company compelled him to quit in 2017.
“I always felt that I was supposed to be doing my own work. In 2016, I told my former boss of my plan to set up my business. We agreed that I train someone for a year to smoothen the transition. He also gave me his blessings,” said Mr Kinoti.
He started working from home, tapping into contacts gained through his years of employment.
“I found my own clients through marketing my services. I have worked with some of the clients over the years,” he said. “I started with three major clients, the number has now grown to over 10 . I plan to hit more than 50,” said Mr Kinoti who started with less than 15 houses. His target is middle to high-end housing options where he has dealt with properties worth more than Sh70 million and apartments ranging from Sh10 million.
Some of his clients include Jumeirah Beach Front Apartments that cost Sh20 million each and Acacia Park apartments, which go for Sh16.5 million each.
Mr Kinoti said that like developers, real estate consultants are tasked with conducting market surveys. “There is a wrong notion out there that consultants are brokers. Consultants must research, estimate property costs and other investment options available for clients.
“They must check out on government bonds and their returns. You must research and be informed so that when talking to a client you give facts and beneficial information,” he said. There are shifts in clients’ demands that only real estate consultants who interact with buyers can tell to prevent building of expensive houses that have no takers.
“Most developers look for us with a ready product. They want you to sell for them. They do not call you when starting off. What they don’’ know is that we interact with buyers every day and know what they are looking for,” he said.
He said that some of the common mistakes that lead to property taking long to sell or rent out can be avoided if developers invested in market surveys and tapped consultants’ rich experiences.
Investors, he said, should design buildings with clients in mind.
“We sit down with developers and tell them what the end-user wants and how much they can buy it for,” he said.
Mr Kinoti urged aspiring consultants that they should build their brand while still in employment.
He said that being employed in a company offers one skills and an opportunity that would be impossible to gain when unemployed.
“The information, experience and connections that come as a result of working for people are priceless. It would be very expensive to build contacts and gather relevant information on your own.
“Sometimes you might feel that whatever you are paid is not enough, consider it as a stepping stone to your own venture,” he said. Mr Kinoti plans to build houses targeting low income earners and eventually venture into the energy sector.