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Should You Build Rentals to Sell or Rent Them Out in Uganda?



Uganda’s real estate market has been experiencing significant growth in recent years, driven by a housing deficit that is expected to reach 3 million units by 2030. For those considering investing in real estate through rental apartments, a crucial decision awaits: should you build these properties to sell or rent them out for long-term income? In this blog post, we’ll explore the factors that can help you make an informed decision.

Market Analysis:

The housing deficit in Uganda is a pressing issue, estimated to be between 2.1 million and 2.4 million housing units. With a population of approximately 37.7 million and an average household size of five people, the demand for housing is substantial. In the capital city, Kampala, 7 out of 10 households rent their dwellings, making the rental market a prominent part of the real estate landscape. Notably, 6 out of 10 apartments in Uganda are one-room houses, commonly known as “Mizigo.”

Financial Analysis:

Accessing mortgage financing in Uganda remains a challenge, with only 1 percent of Ugandans having access to this option. Rental pricing plays a pivotal role in the decision-making process. According to experts, Ms. Baziwe suggests that affordable rental prices for households typically range between UGX 50,000 to 100,000. Meanwhile, Mr. Agaba, the former president of the Real Estate Agents Association, notes that dominant rentals range from UGX 100,000 to 250,000, with higher-end properties rented between UGX 300,000 and 450,000. People who can afford more often prefer to build their own houses.

Legal and Regulatory Information:

The Ugandan real estate market has faced challenges due to a lack of sufficient legal framework. However, the new Tenants Bill 2023 aims to address these issues. With the new bill, both landlords and tenants can expect clearer guidelines and dispute resolution mechanisms, potentially improving the rental market’s stability.

Location Considerations:

When deciding whether to build rentals for sale or long-term rental income, location is key. Market research is essential to identify target demographics. For example, single houses tend to thrive in city centers or near educational facilities, while 3-roomed houses with compounds are preferred in the outskirts of the city in areas like Nalya, Namugongo, and Entebbe.

Pros and Cons:

Building Rentals to Sell:

  • Pros: Immediate lump-sum profit, reduced involvement in property management.
  • Cons: Limited long-term income, potential capital gains tax.

Building Rentals to Rent Out:

  • Pros: Steady, long-term rental income, potential property appreciation.
  • Cons: Initial investment in property management, occasional vacancies.


Conclusion and Recommendations:

In conclusion, the decision to build rental properties in Uganda ultimately depends on your financial goals, risk tolerance, and market analysis. If you prioritize immediate profit and have a higher risk tolerance, selling may be the right choice. However, if you seek steady, long-term income and are willing to manage properties, renting them out could be more suitable.

It’s crucial to stay informed about legal changes, market trends, and location-specific factors when making this decision. With the new Tenants Bill 2023 addressing regulatory issues, the rental market may become a more attractive option for long-term investors.

Remember that both options have their merits, and it’s advisable to consult with real estate professionals and conduct thorough research before making your final decision.

Additional Resources:

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Nembabazi Real Estate Ltd is your one stop partner for your Real Estate needs.


Welcome to Nembabazi Real Estate Ltd, your trusted partner for all your real estate needs in Mbarara City and beyond. We take pride in offering a wide range of real estate services that cater to both buyers and sellers.

Our Services:

  • Buying and Selling: Looking for the perfect piece of land? We specialize in commercial, residential, and farmland transactions, ensuring you find the right property for your needs.
  • Property Management: Trust us to handle the complexities of property management, so you can focus on what matters most to you.
  • Rentals: Need a house or office space for rent? We have a variety of options to suit your preferences and budget.

Visit Us Today!

🏢 Location: Iqra Building, Rooms 15 and 16, Ntare Road, Mbarara City.

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  • Phone: +256 702 050 601
  • Phone: +256 771 091 122
  • Phone: +256 758 331 705

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Explore our services and discover the perfect real estate solutions tailored just for you. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, rent, or manage property, Nembabazi Real Estate Ltd has you covered.

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Mbarara City: The Emerging Real Estate Hub in Uganda

Welcome to Mbarara City, an exciting and rapidly growing real estate hub in the heart of Uganda. With its strategic location, booming economy, and abundance of investment opportunities, Mbarara City has become a magnet for individuals and businesses looking to capitalize on the region’s potential. In this blog post, we will explore the key factors driving the growth of Mbarara’s real estate market and delve into some compelling examples and references that showcase its rising prominence.

Strategic Location and Connectivity:
Mbarara City’s advantageous geographic location plays a pivotal role in its emergence as a real estate hub. Situated in southwestern Uganda, it serves as a gateway to the Great Lakes region, connecting major cities like Kampala, Kigali (Rwanda), and Bujumbura (Burundi). The city’s proximity to national parks, including Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Mburo National Park, adds to its allure, attracting tourists and investors alike.

Economic Growth and Development:
Mbarara City has experienced significant economic growth in recent years. The region’s diversified economy encompasses agriculture, trade, services, and industry. Notably, Mbarara is a major center for milk production, with several dairy processing plants fueling employment opportunities and economic development. The city’s growing middle class and increasing purchasing power are driving demand for quality residential and commercial properties.

Infrastructure Advancements:
Investments in infrastructure have played a vital role in Mbarara City’s real estate boom. The recently constructed roads like the Mbarara Northern Bypass , the ongoing expansion of the road network including Victor Bwana Road, etc has enhanced connectivity and reduced travel time to and from the city. Additionally, improvements in electricity supply and internet connectivity have created a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

Residential Real Estate Opportunities:
Mbarara City offers a wide range of residential real estate opportunities to cater to varying budgets and preferences. From affordable housing projects to luxury apartments and gated communities, the city’s real estate market is becoming increasingly diverse. For example, the upcoming Rwizi Apartments by National Housing and construction Company offers modern, eco-friendly homes with state-of-the-art amenities, providing a comfortable and sustainable living experience.

Commercial and Investment Potential:
Mbarara City presents lucrative opportunities for commercial real estate and investment ventures. The growing population and thriving business environment have spurred the demand for office spaces, retail outlets, and hospitality establishments. The establishment of several shopping malls, Mbarara Central Market and Mbarara Industrial Park has also attracted businesses and industries seeking to leverage the region’s economic potential.

Portville Shopping Mall located in Mbarara city center

Mbarara City is fast becoming a real estate hub in Uganda, offering a compelling blend of strategic location, economic growth, and infrastructure development. With its diverse residential options, commercial potential, and investment opportunities, Mbarara presents an enticing proposition for both local and international investors. As the city continues to evolve and expand, now is the opportune time to explore the thriving real estate market in Mbarara and capitalize on its emerging potential.

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Purchasing land is a significant investment, and in many cases, the costs involved can be quite expensive. However, with careful planning, a strong commitment to saving, and creative strategies, it is possible to acquire land even with limited financial resources. In this blog, we will delve into the reasons why buying land can be expensive and explore unique approaches to save for land purchases. Additionally, we will share a compelling real-life example of an individual who successfully bought land while saving just UGX Ugx 6m in a year.

I. Understanding the High Costs of Buying Land:

  1. Supply and Demand Dynamics: a. Rapid urbanization and population growth increase the demand for land, driving up prices. b. Limited availability of prime locations with desirable features adds to the cost. c. Land scarcity in urban areas leads to inflated prices due to competition.
  2. Government Regulations and Taxes: a. Land registration fees, stamp duty, and other legal expenses contribute to the overall cost. b. Taxes such as capital gains tax can significantly impact the purchase price.
  3. Infrastructure Development: a. The presence of well-developed infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, and water supply, raises land prices. b. The cost of developing infrastructure in previously undeveloped areas can be passed on to buyers.

II. The Importance of Saving:

  1. Establishing Financial Goals: a. Setting clear goals helps prioritize saving for land acquisition. b. Creating a budget and tracking expenses enable effective financial management.
  2. Cultivating a Saving Mindset: a. Adopting a frugal lifestyle and minimizing unnecessary expenses can generate substantial savings. b. Implementing small lifestyle changes, such as reducing dining out or using public transportation, can accumulate savings over time.
  3. Exploring Savings Instruments: a. Utilizing savings accounts, fixed deposits, or investment options can provide higher returns and accelerate the saving process. b. Consulting with financial advisors can help identify the most suitable saving instruments.

III. Creative Strategies to Buy Land with Limited Income:

  1. Joint Ownership and Partnerships: a. Collaborating with family members or trusted friends to pool resources and collectively purchase land. b. Sharing expenses such as down payments, legal fees, and development costs.
  2. Land Cooperatives: a. Joining land cooperatives or community-based savings groups to collectively save and invest in land. b. These groups offer shared ownership and opportunities for acquiring land at more affordable prices.
  3. Rent-to-Own Programs: a. Engaging in rent-to-own agreements where a portion of the monthly rent contributes toward eventual land ownership. b. This approach allows individuals to accumulate equity while living on the property.

IV. Inspiring Example:
Yasin Bakaluba Sekimwanyi, the proprietor of Bakulaba Properties says everyone with a source of income has the ability to own land and build a home. 

For example, he says, many diasporans earn less than 2,000 pounds a month, and yet they have bills to clear. So, it is hard to save for a house above sh50m back home. 

In the same way, corporates and low-income earners in the formal and informal sectors dream of owning homes, but achieving this dream becomes difficult owing to their tight budgets. 

Bakaluba is of the view that in looking for where to build, people should look beyond Kampala and Wakiso district suburbs that are already congested. 

“Find cheap land in what seem like far off places now. Before you know it, they will also be urbanised,” he says.

Speaking out of experience, Bakaluba recalls buying his first plot in Kulambiro, an outskirt of Kampala in 2003 at sh6m. He was working in the UK as a security guard. 

“I intentionally lived below my means while in London and managed to save sh6m in two years. I came back home and bought land,” he recollects. 

After getting his land title, Bakaluba started developing his 50X100 plot. He put up six two-room rental units each fetching sh100,000 a month. 

“I built in stages and completed them in about 18 months. Materials and labour were not as expensive as they are today,” he says.

Bakaluba also opened an account where tenants deposited rent. 

The following year, he withdrew sh7.2m and topped up his savings and bought another plot in Kisaasi, another suburb at sh12m. 

He put up eight rental units each fetching sh100,000, from which he collected sh800,000 per month. He topped it up and bought another plot in the same neighbourhood and has never looked back.

“My father inspired me greatly. I grew up seeing him buy land and develop it slowly. He was never in a rush,” he says.

By the time Bakaluba returned to settle in Uganda after 19 years, he had accumulated several properties. Today, he has dipped his toes into the real estate industry as a developer of commercial and residential properties.

“Keep buying and keeping. With time, you can sell one piece and develop the other. However, remember to ward off grabbers,” he advised. 

He gave an example of a lady who has been in London for over 40 years. She bought a plot of land at sh5m along Entebbe Road in the 1990s. Recently, she sold it at sh1b for a petrol station development. 

“This lady had failed to save and build a decent house in Uganda. With the money she got, she bought apartments,” he said adding, “You will never go wrong with cheap land.”   

In the same way, Micheal Mugabi, the managing director of Housing Finance Bank (HFB) says, despite the effects of COVID-19, they have continued to enable Ugandans to own homes and properties.

“We had to find a way to absorb the COVID-19 shock. We give mortgages and small loans to people to build slowly,” he says.  

He adds that they also solved the problem Ugandans have with collateral. 

Anthony Kituka, the managing director, of Equity Bank notes that there is also a huge demand for housing in all the different spectrums; high, medium and low. Even in the oil cities such as Hoima and Buliisa. 

There are investment opportunities in simple things like motels along the roads and shopping stations. 

“Banks have come on board. Use them to benefit from those investment opportunities,” he advised.

Conclusion: While the cost of buying land can be daunting, it is not an insurmountable challenge. By understanding the reasons behind high land prices, adopting a dedicated saving mindset, and exploring innovative strategies, individuals can achieve their dream of land ownership. The inspiring example of Jane, who successfully acquired land on a modest income, serves as a testament to the possibilities that exist with determination and strategic planning. Remember, with careful financial management and perseverance, the goal of becoming a landowner can be within reach.