Many say that everyone you meet in Nairobi will have an angle and you should therefore, be careful. You should be careful but there are some genuine people in this city. You never really know who is genuine and who is not though. It is an after the fact kind of realization. You should therefore, keep an eye out for some signs that a person is not exactly straight. The bootleg real estate agents are quite well versed in conning people. There are some very good ones obviously but if you picked a number off a lamppost, be extra alert. Below are some of the common signs.

Upfront payment

Once you have described your ideal home, the agent will go ahead and tell you about a unit that sounds exactly like your dream home. Then before they take you to it, they will demand payment. They will often ask for about 500 shillings. Before you hand it over, think about it. Have you ever been paid upfront in full for any job you had not done yet? If you have never then why would you give your money to a stranger who knows the neighborhood very well and could slip through oaths you would never dare to walk down?

If you have a feeling that this person could be genuine, offer to pay half upfront then the balance after you have found the place you want. Alternatively, you could promise to compensate them for their time before dismissing them if you do not like any of their picks. Any genuine agent will be on board with this plan.

No directions

A con will not give you proper directions to the house they are promising. They will point in a general direction but never really tell you where. There could be two reasons for this. They do not want you to dismiss them then go off and see the house on your own. The second reason is that there is no house, to begin with. If the agent is not keen on describing where you are going then be careful because they could be leading you into a trap or just taking you on a wild goose chase.

‘Panya’ routes

These are little non-paths paths that the agent will walk you through. Of course he or she could be genuine and only trying to cut down on walking time. However, they could also be walking you in circles until they find the perfect opportunity to slip way and leave you flailing having lost 500 shillings. These little paths could also be dangerous and could get you mugged or worse. This is why it has always been advised that you take a friend or two with you. If the agent slips you a drug as is common with Nairobi cons then you will have a backup.


The agent should not be pushing you to make any decision. Their job is to show you different options until you have found one that satisfies you and feels like home. If an agent is pushing you to make a payment after a few minutes of the very first viewing then brace yourself and calculate your next step carefully your next step. If they tell you to pay a small fraction of the amount to hold the house then you could be dealing with a con. You old come back a few days later to pay the rest and find that you have been duped.

Odd hours

A vacant house should be available to view whenever one wishes to see it. If the agent has been granted permission to show the house then they should be able to give you information or find someone who has it. They should be able to show you the house at regular times and not ask you to come back at weird times like late in the evening or Sunday. This is a sign that the agent is merely sneaking you into the building.

Different from pictures

You see pictures of your dream rental online then rush to call the number listed. Then you get there only to be shown something completely different. You will be given a flimsy excuse that the house on the picture has been occupied or is not currently available to see. In some cases it will be a mere case of clickbait. In other cases, you will find yourself being led to pay for something you do not want or even like. As soon as you walk in and the house looks nothing like the pictures then it is best for you to turn around and leave immediately. Wait for no explanation. you can be sure that one will have been prepared.


It takes a lot of energy to lie and be dishonest. Often when a person is telling a lie they will be unable to hold eye contact. In other times, they will fidget and seem nervous. Some people are just shy of course but if they keep averting their eyes as well as exhibit other signs of dishonesty then be very vigilant. Ask a lot of questions. Take your time before handing over any money.

Gut feeling

Your body will often feel the danger before you realize it. You will feel uncomfortable and your skin will feel cold. The point is, if your sixth sense is warning you about a particular person then be careful with whatever you do next. Look for other signs or simply walk away and find someone you feel comfortable with. Many times when people get conned, it is because they ignored their own guts and went for it anyway. If the deal you are getting does not feel right then look further.

In some cases, if you have doubt that you will find an honest agent then it is better if go it alone. Caretakers often paste notices by the gates to alert anyone of a vacancy in the building. If you visit a reputable site, you will also have some great leads. Good luck!