Real estate minute with Cyril and Daphne is an educative radio show that gives its listeners daily tips on real estate. The show aired on Starr 103.5 FM for the first time on Monday the 22nd of August 2016. This fun, family oriented segment explains everyday real estate words in a funny but memorable way. Make a date with Cyril Nii Ayitey Tetteh and Daphne Quayson every weekday at 6:59am on Starr FM 103.5 and learn how to speak fluent real estate. This segment is proudly brought to you by Emerald Properties, Luxury Homes, and Great value.
Emerald Properties organized a focus group at its office premises to discuss and obtain feedback from stakeholders in the real estate sector on affordable house prices, location, designs and features that influence the purchasing decision of prospective house owners.
The focus group was attended by 14 stakeholders across the industry; amongst them were Ghana Homes Loans, HFC Bank, Incept Architectural Consult and individual home owners etc. Topics ranging from pricing and functionality of units were discussed.
At end of the session, it came to light that, pricing, availability of amenities and expandable units ranked very high on the purchasing decisions of prospective home owners.
Cyril Tetteh, the Business Development & Marketing Manager, who moderated the session, introduced Harry Quartey, C.E.O of Emerald Properties who closed the session by expressing his appreciation to the discussants for their input and time.
Owning a home is certainly a dream come true isn’t it? But imagine how fast that dream could turn into a nightmare if you find out that there are legal issues on the land you purchased and on which you have built your home. Or that the house or land you bought was sold to you by a fraudster and the real owner shows up and starts demanding his property back? How about if you bought the property from the real owner , only to find out that your newly acquired property has been sold to two or three other people besides you? What a sad day that will be.
How can you prevent this heartbreaking situation from happening to you? How can you legally save or protect your investment or as we say in Ghana, “what are the legalities?”
Conduct a search
Before you purchase any type of property, you need to conduct a search at the Lands Commission if it’s an indenture or the Land Title Registry if it is a Land Title Certificate. It is important to have the title reviewed by A real estate lawyer and cleared by the land registry office. This process may seem cumbersome and tiresome because it takes a little over a month and some leg work to complete, however you will find that it is well worth it. Why? Because it’s the only legal means through which you can ascertain if the person selling you the land or the house is the rightful owner of that property.
Sign a Sale and Purchase agreement
It is also important that upon the purchase of any property that a sale and purchase agreement is signed. A sales and purchase agreement is a legal contract that obligates a buyer to buy and a seller to sell a product or service. This is a way of finalizing the interests of both parties before closing the deal. Upon the signing of this document, ensure that the title is transferred correctly to your name.
Transfer and Registration of the title
No one else apart from the legal owner of the land can transfer the land title into your name. This is a meticulous and complex process which requires that your name be captured correctly with no mistakes or typos. If this is not done correctly, you will not be able to sell the property in the future in which case It will be considered a dead asset.
Unless a registration has been done, the property’s search at the Deeds Registry or Lands Commission will not indicate you as the owner. The land will still be in the name of the vendor or the one you bought it from.
If you painstakingly complete this process, you will not have to worry about other people encroaching on your property or making claims over it.
Obtain a building Permit
Before you even think of seeking a building permit, you need an architect, quantity surveyor and a structural engineer to come out with the drawings (plan), feasibility and an estimate (budget) for the building. After all this is done, you may go ahead to request for the building permit from the appropriate Authorities.
In Ghana, building permits are issued by the Metropolitan, Municipal or District assemblies. In Accra for example, permits are issued by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). This process could take up to 3 months. Depending on the type of building you wish to put up, you will also need permits from the fire department as well as the Environmental protection agency. Do not start the building before you request for those permits. When their inspectors visit your site and they find that you do not have proof of compliance, namely; evidence that you have either received a building permit from the regulators or put in a formal request for one, it will result in fines, delay in the construction or in serious cases, a demolition of your property. Ensure that you follow due process in obtaining all the necessary permits.
Meet Development Timelines
If you are building a new home, the government requires that you meet certain timelines. You will likely need to have the foundation and walls completed within 2 years from the date of land purchase. Real estate professionals will work with the local government offices to make sure that any other building timelines are met.
These seem like a lot. However, these steps when followed to the latter will help protect and secure your investment.
Alternatively, if you buy a house from a trusted property developer, it will save you all the pain. The Estate developer will take care of all these processes on your behalf.
Before you sign any documents or any money changes hands, you would be well advised to seek professional help from lawyers and real estate professionals.
Now let the search begin!
Written by Daphne Amarkai Quayson
Sales and Marketing Officer
What would you do if you found yourself in such a dilemma? Many people who find themselves with more than one residential property often grapple with making the decision as to whether to sell one of them or rent it out.
Renting out as an option
You may view renting out as simply making money off the property while still having ownership of it, probably because the rent from your tenant is either paying your mortgage or providing you with a steady flow of monthly cash if your house is already paid for.
However, it’s not that simple. Being a landlord comes with its own responsibilities.
So what if you decide to rent out? What are your responsibilities?
- Mortgage payment(if applicable)
- Property tax
- Homeowner insurance
- Homeowner association dues (if applicable)
- Property management company (if applicable)
- House maintenance
it is your responsibility as landlord to do major repairs and wear and tear on the property, like tiling, painting etc. except for major damage, which is generally borne by the tenant.
The truth of the matter is that there are challenges to being a landlord. These challenges can be quite emotionally, financially and physically draining, like handling difficult tenants and their complaints, maintenance problems, and possibly having to evict tenants. You need to weigh the emotional and financial cost of being a landlord against the potential for making profit.
To help you make the best decision as to whether to rent out or to sell, you need to know what it will cost you every month to own that property. You also have to examine what the rental value is every month and calculate whether this amount can cover the mortgage payment, taxes, insurance and any management fees. Remember, you want a breakeven or better still, a positive cashflow . Any extra cash from the rent can be used for maintenance, repairs, or to pay down the mortgage.
How about Selling?
Some have found themselves in need of significant bulk money in which case selling might seem more appealing to them. However there are a few things to consider before taking this option.
- Do you have significant equity?
- Are you going to make a profit from the sale?
- Will you re-invest the money from the sale?
If you have significant equity, you are better off selling. It actually may be a relatively lower risk to choose to sell, provided your plan is to turn a profit or make a wise investment with the proceeds from the sale.
So what do you want to do?
Written by: Daphne Amarkai Quayson
Sales & Marketing Officer, Emerald properties
This article was first published in the June 16, 2016 edition of the Business Finder Newspaper.
Have you stayed in the same house for a long time? Are you tired and bored with your house because you keep seeing the same wall colours and furniture all the time? Are you looking to bring the spark back into your home but you fear it will be too expensive?
Here are 5 simple ways you could revamp your home to give it a new look without spending too much:
- De-clutter : Get rid of all the things you have not used in a long time. Are you still keeping those plastic baskets you got as a gift from that engagement ceremony even though you never use them? How about those shoes you never wear because they have become too tight? Or the cookbooks, old wedding invitations and order of service from funerals you have piled up but will never use again? Or the clothes that you or your children haven’t worn in years because you have either outgrown them or they are worn out? Why not give them out to others, sell or throw them away? Human as we are, we have the tendency to hang on to old things for sentimental reasons thereby creating clutter. In my opinion, if you have not used it in six months, you do not need it. Get rid of it.
- Re arrange the furniture: If you cannot afford to buy new furniture, do not worry, Move the old furniture around in the hall, change their positions to give your hall a different look. Why not get rid of that room divider that is taking up so much space and replace with a small television stand, a cupboard or a table for the television and its related appliances? Or better still why not hang the flat screen television on the wall? You could also change the fabric of the cushion cover or drape the old chairs with new decorative coverings to give it a new look.
- Give your home a good paint work: Did you know that certain colours can determine your mood? Yes, some colours could dampen your mood whilst others can lift your spirits. Make good use of the internet to find the best indoor colours. The customer service persons at the paint companies also come in handy with their palettes that have an array of colours to choose from. Carefully choose some fresh colours for the hall. Go for bright and refreshing indoor colours that will bring a smile to your face each time you step into your home and choose a calming colour for the bedroom. And do not forget to paint the ceiling. It will surprise you what a difference that will make in your home.
- Floral arrangements: In Ghana most people grow flowers in their homes if you do, bring some fresh flowers from your garden. Get a simple cup or a vase and make your own floral arrangement. More often than not, The simplest arrangements are the most beautiful ones.
5.Change your door handles and knobs: the gold, brass or silver colours of the door handles and kitchen cabinet handles may have faded by now. Invest a little money into buying new ones to replace them, and see the difference it makes.
These suggestions will leave your home looking new, spacious and different. Go ahead and breath life into your old home.
Writer: Daphne Amarkai Quayson.
Sales and marketing officer, Emerald Properties.
This article was first published in the June 9th 2016 edition of the Business Finder Newspaper.
While driving through Accra recently, I saw dozens of building construction going up in the city centre. I could not help but notice how dependent we have become on steel and concrete for building. Even the scaffolding used for construction was all made of steel. I found myself wondering if an alternative to steel exists. I therefore decided to do a little research into that and here are a few facts I gathered:
Did you know that developing countries like Ghana have the highest demand for Steel reinforced concrete? According to Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, developing countries use close to 90 per cent of the cement and 80 per cent of the steel consumed by the global construction sector. However, such countries often do not have the means to produce the steel to meet that demand. Out of 54 African nations, for instance, only two are producing steel (South Africa and Egypt). This puts developing countries at the mercy of a global market dominated by developed countries. Could there be an alternative that could rescue us from this exploitative relationship with the developed world?
Bamboo as an alternative
Could bamboo really replace steel reinforcement?
Bamboo has potential in the future to become an ideal replacement in places where steel cannot easily be produced. Research suggests that bamboo might have some advantages over steel which could make it a good alternative for construction. According to scientists, Bamboo has greater tensil strength than steel.Ultimate tensile strength is measured by the maximum stress that a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled before breaking.
Below are some more facts about bamboo:
- It is the fastest growing plant in the world, with recorded growth rates of up to one meter per day for some species.
- It has existed for hundreds of years in Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa (including Ghana), all of which have different climate. Evidence that it is very resilient.
- It is highly versatile and thrives in the poorest of soils.
- It is environmentally friendly
- It is cheaper than steel because it is locally sourced and grows rapidly
That being the case, you may be wondering why a country like Ghana, which has an abundance of bamboo, is yet to find a way to utilize it to our advantage? Well, ironically, many of the countries that would benefit from bamboo reinforcement also lack the resources to develop it as a viable alternative to the steel on which they currently rely.
Besides, bamboo has its own limitations.
Contraction and expansion is one such limitation, caused by both temperature changes and water absorption. This grass is also susceptible to structural weakness caused by fungus and simple biodegradation.
From the look of things, the advantages far outnumber the disadvantages. Additionally, when well treated, bamboo is protected from above mentioned limitations, albeit at a cost (monetary).
If these demerits are well mitigated, this could ‘change the game’ in construction. We could reduce import fees on construction costs considerably, thereby providing affordable housing that is really affordable.
Written by: Daphne Amarkai Quayson
Sales & Marketing Officer, Emerald properties
Credits: Africa Renewal online, Arch daily architectural website.
Are you looking to start a business? Expand or renovate your home? Do you have financial obligations to meet? Your outlet is right over your head- That’s right, your house!!! If you’re a homeowner, you have probably seen the value in your home increase over time. Equity release allows you to tap into some of this value and release a cash sum.
This is a great option for people who own their own homes outright but wish to borrow on a long term basis using their home as collateral to expand their business, undertake home improvements / expansion, pay overseas school fees etc. No down payment is required for this type of mortgage. Furthermore, all fees and charges can be capitalized (added to the loan) to make it easier for the borrower.
The bank or mortgage house will advance, averagely between 60%- 80% of the value of your property and will spread the repayment over 10-15 years. However, you might not get the entire 60% or 80% depending on your income. Yes, you have to be earning some form of income to qualify for equity release in Ghana. Below is a typical eligibility criteria for one of the mortgage houses in Ghana:
- Property must be residential
- Applicant must pay off the loan before their 60th birthday
- Applicant must demonstrate valid ownership of the property (in the form of land title certificate or fully registered indenture)
- Use of funds must be acceptable to the mortgage company (Not for illegal purposes).
- Loan period typically ranges from 10 years for cedi loans and 15 years for dollar loans.
I would be remiss however, if I do not inform you of the risk and disadvantages associated with equity release:
You may end up losing your home in the process.In the event that you default on repayment or you find it difficult to meet your repayment obligations, your property will be sold and the mortgage house will take their money out of that amount. Even though the balance will be given to you, your children or grandchildren may have lost their inheritance..
Additionally, there is an age limit to this, so not every home owner can benefit from this.
If you are a prospective home owner, you may benefit from equity release in future with the right amount of planning. Knowledge is power my friends. The Time to own a home is NOW!!!
Written by: Daphne Amarkai Quayson
Sales and Marketing Officer, Emerald Properties.
This article was first published in the May 19, 2016 edition of the Business Finder Newspaper.
House hunting can be a tiresome and strenuous task. You might think “how hard can it be”? But wait until you go through house after house with each one being either too small or too big or too far or too noisy than what you had in mind, that is when the stress begins to set in. What can help you narrow the search down?
- Property portals This is the most convenient way of house hunting, and the cheapest too. It displays listings of properties from estate developers, private home owners or real estate agents. It is like window shopping, but online. Portals like Lamudi, Meqasa and a few others provide the perfect environment where house hunters meet house sellers or rentals. With a click of a button you may shop around looking out for your preferred house based on their listed features, location and pricing. If websites are listed, take the time to go on their website to find out more. This is a perfect way to narrow down your search. If everything works out right you may have a match made in real estate heaven! But you need to be careful with this one. While it is very convenient and free, it has its associated problems, for example the perfect picture you see might not be a true reflection of the real state of the house. Also fraudsters are always on the lookout surfing the web looking to prey on unsuspecting house hunters.
- Real Estate Agents once you have narrowed down your search and are pretty certain of what you want, a real estate agent may come in handy. They will do the leg work, paper work and all kinds of nitty-gritty that goes into the purchase or rental of a house. At some point, you may need to go and have a look at the property you have settled on and have your lawyer look the contract over before you give the thumbs up. However, the thing about the estate agents is that the higher the price of the house the more significant their brokerage fee. More often than not, It’s the house sellers who pay the agent, but in the case of a rental, the percentage fee of the agent is paid by the one who is looking to rent. So stand your ground and make sure that you are getting exactly what you want and at the right price. Some of the cheapest houses on the market are those ones marked for foreclosures so challenge your agent to be on the lookout for those.
- Housing Fairs housing fairs are also a great place to house hunt. Whether you are looking to buy or to rent, this avenue will most certainly be helpful to you. Most estate developers who participate in such fairs usually have estate management companies who can assist with rentals. Additionally, such fairs give you the opportunity to interact with the sellers, compare prices and educate yourself about the industry. Some real estate developers give promotions and discounts at housing fairs so you might want to take advantage of this.
Now that you have all your options open to you, go get your dream house!!! All the best.
This article was first published in the May 12, 2016 issue of the Business Finder Newspaper
Written by: Daphne Amarkai Quayson
Sales and Marketing Officer, Emerald Properties
My first experience with an estate agent was not a pleasant one. I found his cell phone number by the roadside, nailed to a stick, close to a traffic light. The man who answered the call gave his name as Agya Yaw and asked my companion and I to meet him at a specified location. He was seated next to a roasted plantain seller busily munching on some roasted groundnuts when we got there. Immediately we got to him, he asked us to pay him what he called ‘registration fee’ upfront. We of course found it preposterous, but at that point we were already there and we didn’t want it to be a wasted trip. Besides he was able to convince us that he knew the hottest rentals in town. And so we paid him. When that money was safely in his pocket, he joined us in our car and we set off on our house hunt, with high expectations, confident that Agya Yaw will lead us to our dream rental home that very day. Even though we clearly stated at the onset exactly what kind of property we were looking to rent, and he specifically assured us that he could meet that need, he led us around to houses that were anything but what we wanted. Some of them were in very deplorable condition. At this point we started getting the sense that Agya Yaw had taken us for a ‘ride’. When we called him out on it, he became offended and called us ‘choosy’. He had the effrontery to appear frustrated and impatient with us, as though we were the ones who couldn’t make up our minds on what we wanted. At which point he got down from our car and off he went with our upfront money (which by the way is non-refundable), for no work done.
This was about five years ago when I had no clue as to what to look out for in Real Estate Agents. Since then I have learned to become less gullible. I have also gathered some experience as I am currently working in the real estate industry.
Agya Yaw is one of those Estate agents who fall into the category of ‘Area Agents’. While most of these agents are well experienced and know their trade very well, and can be quite helpful to home buyers , sellers, landlords and renters alike, others are just charlatans who are only looking to make quick money whilst sending unsuspecting house hunters on a wild goose chase and then ditching them to move on to their next victim.
Real estate agents these days are generally more sophisticated. They appear younger, well educated and much more professional about their business. They are usually dressed to impress, great communicators and technologically savvy, using the internet property portals, email and social media as their modus operandi. But still, one needs to be careful with their choice of agents.
So how can we avoid the ‘Agya Yaws’ of this world? Here is what to do:
- Investigate the Agents track record and his credibility Since real estate agents in Ghana are not yet regulated and therefore are not licensed, it presents quite a challenge easily finding professional background information on who you are dealing with and their track record. You may have to resort to word of mouth and recommendations. Only go with those who have proven themselves to be knowledgeable, respectful to the wishes of their customers, and who have delivered on their promises.
- Insist on a contract stating the terms of your agreement. This is very important. Your relationship with the Estate Agent should be summed up on a legally binding document to protect the interests of both parties.
- You might want to be circumspect and part with money only when your estate agent has delivered on the rental or the property you wanted to purchase. It is only then that you may go ahead to make payment which is usually 10% of the total rent or a compensation equivalent to one month rental ( for rental) or 5% of the total cost of the property( for purchase), which is usually stipulated in the contract.
- Sight the actual property before making a choice. Even though it might be easier to sit in your office or home and look at pictures or options presented to you by the agent through the email or whatsapp or any of the social media platforms, it is always best to insist on visiting the property and seeing it for yourself or getting someone you trust to do that in case you are abroad. It might surprise you how different the actual state of a property looks from how it is projected in the brochure or the internet.
When the Real Estate Agency Bill is finally passed, I believe this will give the Ghana Real Estate Proffessionals Association (GREPA) the mandate to regulate the operations of Real estate agents in the areas of licensing and streamlined operations, thereby protecting the interests of both the estate agents and their customers. And then guess what…? No more ‘Agya Yaw’ drama.
Written by Daphne Amarkai Quayson
Sales and Marketing Officer
This article was first published in the April 28, 2016 issue of the Business Finder newspaper