“You developers, build for half the price you sell your properties for, there is no way in Mahama’s Ghana that I would buy from you guys, I would rather buy land and build in my own time”.. that was an acquaintance of mine, Kwame Chisel, vehemently protesting when I tried to make a sales pitch. Kwame isn’t alone in his doubt, he belongs to a pool of prospective homeowners who are suspicious of the build quality and seemingly unrealistic margins. Well, for any salesman, objections are as commonplace and it also presents a perfect opportunity to educate and eventually convert a doubting Kwame into a believer and a willing buyer. So I sat Kwame down and had a profound chat with him while we waited for our coffee in Accra’s latest Cafe. If you are curious, here is transcript of our chat.
Return on Investment
“Kwame, I understand where you are coming from, but I also believe you are making a sweeping generalization. Yes, it may be true that some developers add unrealistic margins which inflate house prices; however, not all developers are greedy, until you have considered all the elements and peculiar dynamics of what goes into pricing, you may just be making an emotive statement rather than one from a position of facts. So Kwame, your first consideration when thinking about building or buying a house is that you should consider it as an investment; one which would not only provide you a place to lay your head or cook but one with futuristic returns. “Nii “Kpa rough eh” Kwame blurted out in Ga.”Nii, my landlord is giving me “Wahala” and you are talking about return on investment, why house be treasury bill? ”. I literally shook my head but wasn’t deterred; I was determined to win a soul. “The devil is a liar I muttered under my breath”. “Kwame, if you would only let me finish; you would understand what I mean by return on investment”.
“So Kwame, I still insist that house purchases should be seen as investments which should provide you optimum value, what you may not be considering is the real value of your house price as against the nominal value which for you is four walls with fittings and fixtures. Let me break it down for you. For a house to move from design on paper to brick and mortar, you need land, building material and infrastructure i.e roads, water and electricity to make it habitable right? For some self-builders like you, acquiring the land, building materials and engaging a contractor is all that matters. Sure, you can build a house that way but what you may not have considered are the time and energy you will expend supervising contractors to ensure leakages and wastage is kept to a bare minimal. You also fail to take into account the extra cash to be spent on burglar proofs, electric/wired fencing; extra pipes and cables to connect to water and electricity. You also fail to realize the extra cost you may incur by driving on very dusty, bumpy roads. You are sure to visit the mechanic more and even your doctor. All these are costs that you would “not see”.
The Real Value
Having shown the cons of self-build, it would be important to highlight the pros of buying a house in a serviced area or gated community. In these environments, you would not have to grapple with bad or inaccessible infrastructure; security would be provided; you and your children would have access to neighbours of similar standing or like-mindedness, which would provide the perfect environment for your children to develop. These are some of the real value you would gain by buying a house, typically built by real estate developers in a gated community/serviced area. “Kwame, as for the margins, isn’t it only fair that by pooling all these resources together, the developer gets a little compensation? What you like to call “Noko-fioo”?
Just as i quizzed Kwame, our coffee arrived. “You see Kwame, you could have bought this coffee from ‘Miliki-mikuu” down the road for a cheaper price, but we walked in here because for a little extra cash, we could access free wifi, comfy seating, air conditioning and even network with other businessmen. Buying a house, typically in a serviced/gated area as against building on lands, on the city outskirts, is like buying from this café rather than from Miliki-mikuu’s. The price may be higher, but the value is greater. Kwame, are you convinced? … Kwame ??? … Kwame was in deep thought…. Was he converted? Your guess is as good as my coffee.
Written by Cyril Nii Ayitey Tetteh
Business Development & Marketing Manager
This article was first published in the Business Finder, April 7 edition, in our new column, REAL ESTATE 101
This is the first of many more to come as the Business Finder newspaper will publish an article from Emerald Properties every week going forward.