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The real estate sector has seen the emergence of many developers and agents in Ghana. Jumia House Ghana sat down with Narteh Tetteh, a part-owner of Homes and More to find out a bit more about the property scene in Ghana.
Jumia House Ghana (GH): Tell us a bit about yourself.
Narteh (N): I am the Sales Manager at Homes and More Ghana Ltd. We are a real estate brokerage firm, providing intermediary market services, facilitating the lease and sale of residential and commercial properties. We also provide prospective investors with market information.
GH: How would you characterize the Ghanaian Real Estate Market today?
N: I think the real estate market in Ghana has great potential. Despite the housing deficit we’ve been faced with over the years, efforts are being made to improve the situation. Generally there has been much development on the “high end” of the spectrum with many developers putting up luxury or middle to upper class residences. There used to be a great void between the high end properties and the lowest level, with nothing in between. However the lower-middle class gap is gradually being filled. The general lack of enforced regulation is somewhat characteristic of our industry, with landlords and even some real estate professionals pricing their properties and services in a seemingly arbitrary manner.
GH: What solutions are there to the identified problem?
N: We definitely need government regulation. Habitat for Humanity for example is a non profit organization that provides affordable housing around the world. However there is only so much they can do. Government assistance is necessary to incentivize developers to take this direction, for example as in Agriculture where the government gives subsidies and assistance to farmers. Also with more enforced regulations, landlords would be held to certain standards and prices would not be so arbitrary and possibly more realistic and affordable rates will be set.
Apart from government intervention, Homes and More is part of the Ghana Real Estate Professionals Association (GREPA). GREPA is an association of brokers and agents and we are accountable to each other. We try and keep ourselves to a certain standard and we believe that has helped us in regulating the industry.
GH: In comparison to the UK, what do you think are the opportunities available here?
N: In our part of the world, there are some types of structures and facilities that we do not have. Look at Ghana before Accra Mall came, the mall looks like a high-end investment but majority of Ghanaians cannot afford to shop at there. We need to create these structures and facilities that will be accessible to all. The gaps in the industry should be seen as attractive opportunities to make people invest in our market.
GH: Where do you see the biggest opportunities in the Ghanaian Real Estate Market?
N: In the areas of affordable to low middle income housing because there are a lot of people coming out of the universities. As much as there are a lot of people not getting jobs, there is also a percentage of people getting fairly good jobs and can afford under what is available to them right now. So if more provisions could be made for lower income and lower to middle income. I believe that will be more helpful. That will be an opportunity for any investor.
GH: What more do you think could be done to provide more local and affordable housing?
N: Apart from people investing in the sector, we need also need government’s intervention. I think the government needs to take some kind of initiative to show others in the industry the direction they should take. Organizations like Habitat are doing their best but I think the government still has a lot to do.
GH: What do you think Government could do to stimulate businesses to enter the middle income – low income housing?
N: Like what Government does with farmers, it can also give subsidies and grants to people in this sector. Where a developer for example pledges to start such a low income housing community, Government could provide subsidy to the developers to provide affordable housing to the low-to-mid income sector.
GH: How important is it to establish personal relationship for a business?
N: It is very important to establish personal relationships and that has been one of the cornerstones of Homes and More Ghana. We have a very personal approach to how we conduct our business. As I mentioned earlier, in Ghana there are a lot of gaps so it has made the industry very distrusting for brokers and agents. Homes and More has made it a mission to go the extra mile to make clients feel as comfortable as possible.
GH: Coming to the Internet, how do you think you have influenced and maintained a strong personal network in Ghana today?
N: You can always do more in terms of online marketing and networking. From our website to our social media, we try and tie together all the various online aspects of our brand to make sure we have a decent online footprint. The internet has made communication so simple it takes little effort to relay or disseminate information amongst partners or even clients. Platforms like Jumia House have undoubtedly been key in growing our reach making us not only more accessible to already existing prospects but to new ones as well.
GH: Share with us some of the services provided by Homes and More
N: Our initial focus was more or less on the five mainstream areas, Labone, Dzorwulu, Cantonments, Osu, East Legon, providing middle to high end residential and commercial properties and logistic spaces. More recently we have included affordable housing in areas outside of the above mentioned and even outside of Accra. We also furnish prospective investors with current market information and trends in property development and pricing.