Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How To Register Your Land In Ghana

Land is a valuable asset, which appreciates or increases in term of price, as time goes on. It is therefore very important that, when you are able to acquire a land, it is registered appropriately and accordingly with the land agencies involved to avoid future land disputes and forfeiture.

In Ghana, recently, acquisition of land has become tiresome and very expensive, especially in elite areas of Accra. This gives more reason why it is vital that the land is registered as this would also give the owner full rights over the land and in its development as well as save the owner from litigation.

7 Steps to Register Your Land in Ghana

  1. Background Checks - Carrying out thorough checks about the land is important, as this will enable the future land owner gets to know if the land is available to be acquired. In this process, the prospective land owner can also consider the services of a land lawyer to research the land and prove its availability; such as if it has already been sold out. Checks must also be done with other government land overseers, for example; the Tema Development Corporation (TDC), to ascertain if the land had been earmarked for any developmental projects. One would also be told if the land is not suitable, say if it is a water-logged area, and therefore, not advisable to be purchased.
  2. Acquisition and Negotiation - After the availability and suitability of the land has been established, the interested buyer or lessee negotiates with the actual owner of the land for sales. It is important to be reminded that the interested buyer must deal with the rightful owner of the land because the use of middlemen is not advisable. An agreement is reached and documents made to its effect.
  3. Document Endorsement - Three copies of the agreement documents would be needed for endorsement by a land lawyer, who will have to sign the back of each of the copies with his practising stamp duly fixed. Each copy of the documents must have a site plan attached, together with two extra copies of site plans, all making 5 documents. The back of the site plan would also be needed to be endorsed by the owner and the buyer of the land; after which they (the site plans) are to be certified by the stamps of a licensed surveyor and the regional surveyor with accurate date.
  4. Witnesses - These are people who would testify to the proceedings so that in future whenever there is anycase of challenge about ownership of the land, they would be called upon for assistance. It is therefore required that at least, 2 qualified persons from both parties – the seller and buyer sides must sign as witnesses. The two witnesses signing on behalf of the buyer or lessee must do so with their full names, addresses and original signatures.
  5. Land Commission - After the endorsement of the documents, it is then sent to the land commission, together with processing feesfor of processing and registration of the land to begin. After the processing is completed, the documents are released to the Land Valuation Board for stamping and certifying.
  6. Internal Revenue Authority (IRS) - The IRS sees to the taxes associated with the registration process. From the land valuation board, the processed documents are then released to the IRS for tax clearing of the land to be made. When this is complete, the applicant, or buyer is given a tax clearance certificate. The documents are from here, taken back to the land commission for final registration at the deeds registry.
  7. Original Copy - From the deeds registry, the buyer is given an original copy of the land title document.
It is advisable that persons who seek to register their lands go through the above processes to have their lands registered accurately and the documents original and recognized. Failure to do this, and employing unauthorized means to go about the registration process or use of “short cut” as it is popularly termed in Ghana, could lead to serious land issues in the future. The land title document must also be kept in a secured place to prevent loss or damage.

Monday, April 21, 2014

7 Ghana Real Estate Laws You Should Know

 Tordia House Plan

In Ghana, as in other developing and advanced countries, there are laws governing the building of houses, and construction in general. These laws, when conformed to, brings sanity into the construction industry, ensuring that all laws are obeyed and buildings built in a way to secure good living for human development.

One needs not be told the effects or consequences of living in a poor quality building – there is the high possibility of collapse, fire, and flood. For this reason, the government, governmental and non-governmental organization (NGOs) in the building sector, international organizations, and individual players in the building sector, have devised ways to put the Ghana real estate laws in check and to ensure that real estate developers and builders in the country comply with these laws.

The Ghana Building Code (GBC) was last reviewed in 2012, during an “African Adaptation Programme on Climate Change” conference, in which it was held that the GBC be reviewed to attain “Risk Reduction In Physical Development”; in a bid to reduce -if not fully eradicate –disasters related to building such as collapse and fire.

Some of the most important Ghana Real Estate Laws that builders need to apply in their projects are as follows:
  1. Land Title - One must first have a land, and with a clear title. This should be the foremost step in starting a building. Failure to obtain a land title from the agencies involved, such as the Lands Commissions and the Town and Country Planning will lead to the loss of the building without any monetary compensation.
  2. Building Permit - It is rightful and very important that a builder obtains a building permit before he embarks on the process; this is compulsory even if the building has a legal support. The building permit must be obtained from the city authorities, district, metropolitan or municipal assembly under which area the building will be situated. Examples are the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and Tema Metropolitan Assembly. Failure to get a building permit before starting a building would lead to a huge monetary fine or total demolishing by the government or city authorities.
  3. Building Materials - The Ghana Building Code (GBC) expects that builders employ good quality building materials in their construction works. The Code does not allow the use of poor quality, harmful or toxic building materials; because they are a threat to human health which could cause severe ailments and even death. Conformity to this law brings to memory the tragic incidence of the collapse of the Achimota- branch of Melcom, a super-market with branches across Ghana, in which about 8 people were reported dead and several others injured. Therefore, the use of good quality building materials including electric cables for wiring, blocks and bricks is advised.
  4. Emergency Precautions - When putting up a design for the building, it is required by law that the building must have emergency features such as exit and assembly points in case of fire, flood or any other disaster. The builder is also required to include structural means in the plans to prevent disasters.
  5. Excavation Requirement - Environmental factors must be considered when building. These include the depth of water tables, and sub-soil drainage must have a legal backing before excavation begin. This would help check pollution of water bodies and fertility of soil, especially in building in crop-growing communities.
  6. Financial Requirements - According to this law, a builder must spell out how they intend to fund the building process. Is it by personal or group funding; or loans from a mortgage company? One must also be in good standing to be able to have access to loans if that would be the means of financing the building.
  7. Completion Time - It is expected by law, that builders meet certain timelines in their building process. Typical of such timelines is the completion of the foundation and walls within a period of 2 years. Also, the builder must be able to meet the entire completion time that they have already indicated in the building document.
Buildings are essential structures of every human’s life, and therefore must be constructed with utmost care and good quality materials. It is therefore vital that foreign investors, real estate developers, and individual builders take these laws into consideration when embarking on building projects, for a fulfilling and better standard of living in Ghana.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Price of Building Blocks & Bricks in Ghana

Blocks and Bricks are both building materials, which can be used for the same purposes. However, the two have varied differences and similarities in terms of price, durability, choices, convenience, and their advantages over each other. In Ghana, the most common building material used is cement, which is employed right from the start to the finish of a construction work; i.e., in producing blocks.

Conversely, brick, which is obtained from burnt clay, is not all that much patronized by builders despite the effort of the government of Ghana encouraging the use of this indigenous local material to solve the housing problem of the country.

The scarcity of the usage of bricks in building projects, according to research, has led to the gradual killing of the brick industry in Ghana even though; the country is endowed with clay deposit in almost all 10 regions. The $300 million needed annually to import clinker and gypsum – the main raw materials in producing cement –could be saved and use for other projects to serve national interest and security. Ghana currently is lacking behind in the building sector with a current housing deficit of over 1,500,000 units. The country needs to meet the annual requirement of 50,000 housing, but currently, the annual supply stands at 25,000; exactly half of what is needed. This deficit could be catered for if effort is made to use local building materials.

Some experts in the construction industry have argued that the gradual diminishing of bricks in Ghana is due to the fact that many people believe that, “It is more costly and less convenient to build with bricks than cement blocks.”

The price of a single block in Ghana now costs between Gh¢2.00 and Gh¢2.50p (73 – 91UScents), while the price of a brick is between 50 pesewas and 80 pesewas (18 – 29 UScents). Even so, in majority, if not all bidding documents, blocks remain the specified building material.

Blocks are Primary Building Material...Why That?

  1. Amount of Blocks or Bricks Needed - The block sizes used are mainly the 6-inches for construction at the foundation level and the 5-inches for the building itself, while the brick; on the other hand; being smaller in size, a number of 6 pieces would be needed to make 1 single block. This sums up to the fact that more bricks would be required than blocks in building.

    Taking for instance, a case of building a standard 14 by 14 feet single room in Ghana; approximately, a number of 150 bags of cement, which is equivalent to 4,500 good quality blocks are needed as against a total of 27,000 bricks for the same kind of building. Moreover, one must also not forget that an amount of sand would be needed to be mixed with the cement in producing the blocks.
  2. Cost of Fuel/Cement - Most people believe that it may be expensive putting up a brick building because of the initial cost to be incurred as compared with the block building.

    In the case of brick, more fuel is needed for the entire production, which involves mixing, drying, firing and fabrication, including hand moulding. Consequently, more fuel would be needed for this kind of work, and this calls for more money, having its own repercussions on the pocket of the builder with respect to the rampant increase of fuel prices in Ghana lately. On April 01, 2014, fuel price saw an increase by 7%, leading to the automatic hikes in all petroleum products and other commodities. This is the third time of increase since the beginning of the year, when we are only in the first quarter.

    The block on the other hand, does not require much more input to be produced as in the case of the bricks. It involves moulding and drying. The challenge with producing blocks has got to do with the unstable prices of cement, which shot up from ¢18.00-20.00 ($6.5-$7) by the close of last year to Gh¢21.00- Gh¢25.00 ($7.67- $9), as of now.
  3. Labour Intensity - It is obvious that the labour force in brick building is greater than the labour force needed in block building. More workers would be needed in the brick case to undertake the various production processes of mixing, drying, firing and moulding; whereas only a few of the workers would be needed in the block building. For instance, if 8 workers are needed in the brick production, with 2 of them taking up one of the production processes, equally, only 2 workers will be needed in the block production – one worker for the mixing and moulding, and the other for the drying. More workers simply mean more cash to pay them.
  4. Building Process - Obviously, the building process involved in both block and brick would be different, with the other requiring more people on board and using more time than the other. Bricks for instance, require more skills right from the production to the building, not to mention that they are smaller in size and also heavier, making it more difficult to be installed by few workers. This can cause a prolonged time of completion, meanwhile prices of goods and services would be going up. For the block, only a few people can handle the entire building process.
  5. Expensive Machines - The machines used in bricks production is undoubtedly more expensive than the machine used in producing blocks. Therefore, it is easy to raise money in acquiring a block-producing machine than that of the brick-producing.
The high cost involved here has accounted for the non-usage of the bricks and scarcity of brick buildings in Ghana; however, the maintenance costs are as low. The bricks building do not need plastering and painting as would be needed in the block building. Also, when building in a water-logged area or on a wet land, bricks are the best choice the reason being that they are stronger and can absorb the water without collapsing, unlike the block building.

Despite these conveniences and advantages, cement block remains builders’ first choice. This has brought about monopoly in building materials, making cement expensive with a bag of cement being now sold at Gh¢21.00 and in some areas of Accra at Gh¢25.00 ($7.67- $9).
Inasmuch as a heavy budget is needed in putting up a brick or block building, their benefits are immense. Both building materials are strong, fire-resistant and insect-proof; raising them above other building materials such as the wood.

All the same, in order to solve Ghana’s recurrent housing deficit, it is imperative that the government puts in more effort to build the capacity of the brick industry and review the construction policies, emphasizing on the use of more local materials such as the clay. Stakeholders must also endeavour to use local building materials in their construction works for everlasting building resistance.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Cost of Luxury Real Estates in Ghana

Image source: Queensridge

Property in the form of land or buildings is referred to as real estate. It has become a profitable investment worldwide since real estate mostly appreciates in value over time.

Luxury real estate is high-end properties usually developed for high profile, high income and high net worth individuals worldwide. Due to their massive resources and high-level income stream, most of them desire to live an elegant lifestyle, requiring high class buildings with high grade furnishings in a prime location.

They mostly buy or own several homes and real estates in different countries across the world. The features and parameters that define luxury real estate may differ slightly amongst countries, though there are always common traits. Familiar characteristics of luxury real estate include the property location and its surrounding views, such as by a water body, on a hill or next to luxurious amenities like golf courses, international first class schools, hospitals, security stations and spas.

In Ghana, luxury real estate is usually classified by the location first, then the high sale price and sophisticated facilities. Communal facilities consist of 24hour concierge desk services, coffee bar and waiting lounge, roof top pool, Jacuzzi, gym and sky garden with spectacular views. These luxurious homes are usually within one-mile radius of the Kotoka International Airport such as the Airport Residential Area, Airport City, East Legon, Airport Hills, Roman Ridge, Labone, Cantonments and Trasacco Valley - the only luxury gated community.

Properties selling above US $100,000 are usually classified as luxurious in Ghana. The average cost of luxury homes (usually 3-4bedrooms) in Airport Residential Area is around US $ 400,000; in East Legon US $ 370,000; in Spintex US $300,000; but in Trassaco Valley and Airport Hills is US $1million. Generally, luxurious homes in Accra costs around US $ 500,000.

However, luxury homes in Asia costs at least US $1.3m. In USA luxury houses start selling around US $1.4 million and for Europe is at least US $1million. South Africa and Nigeria have their minimum hovering around US $200,000. In comparison with other global prices of luxury homes, Ghana seems to have lower costs of luxury homes thus there is high demand especially by foreign investors which increases the prices. These prices keep escalating tremendously due to the forces of demand and supply, influx of expatriates, returning Ghanaians from abroad with much foreign income, the new oil industry and cost of building materials.

Foreign developers are now cashing in on Ghana’s real estate industry and making huge profits. They buy an acre of land for about US $2.5million and construct a number of high rise apartments selling each for about US $300,000 to US $800,000.

With the high demand, good returns are made within reasonable time. Examples of these developments are Villagio Vista, Primrose Place, Meridian Apartments and Casa Bella, all within the Airport Residential Area.

Though it may seem all profitable, the real estate industry in Ghana still faces some challenges predominantly related to acquisition and registration of lands. These are mostly issues of litigations and complicated land transfer processes especially associated with real estate in the prime areas.
This trend of continuous increase in prices in the real estate market is expected to remain so for a long while.

Though most native Ghanaians are not able to enjoy these luxury homes because they cannot afford it, the luxurious housing developments and its subsequent management create several jobs for Ghanaians and a good competition in the local building industry.

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