Ghana’s real estate market has prospered in recent years as a result of growing demand for housing, hotels, office space, and commercial and industrial centers throughout the country, especially in the greater Accra, Ashanti, Western and Eastern regions.
Accurate growth statistics are difficult to define due to lack of proper data gathering being in place from the beginning. However, it is generally agreed within the industry that real estate purchase, rental and leasing activities have grown significantly throughout the country and will continue to grow as demand is high. Ghana’s housing deficit was estimated at one million in 2009, which constitutes a significant need for quality, affordable housing options. Although the industry has thrived in recent years, there remains a striking imbalance between real estate development and housing demand due to the fact that many estate developers have been targeting upper class clients and Ghanaians living abroad, while largely neglecting the housing needs of the emerging middle class and low income workers.
In an effort to bring adequate housing to low income families, the government established the Affordable Housing program in 2006, garnering only limited success. In 2009, Parliament approved a $10 billion deal with STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Ltd to provide 200,000 housing units and 300 luxury homes between 2010 and 2015. Of the new housing units, 30,000 are to go to Ghana’s military, police and other security personnel. The government will need to continue to seek international partners and investors like STX to assist in these large-scale projects that will have a positive impact on the country.
The local industry in general lacks the financial resources necessary to tackle Ghana’s growing demand for real estate. Many developers lack appropriate funds to finance large or even medium scale projects.
Buyers often can’t find affordable mortgage options.
Land disputes and ease of access to land titles have also been significant issues for companies trying to build homes, offices, and hotels.
To mitigate the shortage of capital, developers need to consider relying on local engineers, architects and building materials to complete projects. Currently, most of the glass, ceramics and metal are imported from abroad, and is a huge financial drain. Investment into building up adequate facilities for the production of such materials as well as advancing the development of machinery and professional engineering/architectural capacities would have a great impact on the real estate industry by allowing developers to put up buildings at much lower costs while contributing to the local economy.
Investment into Ghana’s wood/timber industry would also have a significant impact on real estate development. Ghana already has a competitive advantage in this field because. Unlike so many of Africa’s natural resources, the industry has not been exploited to a large extent. Building elements in the timber industry have not yet been standardized, and so investment into building up this industry could go a long way in furthering real estate development and construction nation-wide.
Ghana has nearly limitless potential when it comes to opportunities to invest in real estate which, until recently, has remained largely unexplored. In recent years the industry has seen a surge of foreign companies looking to enter the real estate business to put up hotels to accommodate the growing tourism industry. Demand has also been high in urban areas for office buildings, commercial space and warehouses. Retailers struggle to find available commercial space to set up shops and warehouses and are therefore forced to operate out of converted residential spaces with inadequate storage facilities. This represents a significant opportunity with high demand.
Global campaigns for developing countries to adopt environment-friendly building practices have inspired some contractors and developers to seek new design concepts and building layouts focused on energy conservation and efficiency. This ‘Go Green’ initiative is gaining popularity. Ghana stands to gain a lot by jumping on this initiative while the real estate and construction industries are still flexible enough to adapt. With additional investment into environmental research, training, and development of eco-friendly materials and building practices, Ghana can be a front-runner in this initiative and set an example for other developing countries to follow. For many real estate developers and contractors, the decision to go green may initially be expensive, but long-term overhead costs are much lower as compared to traditional building practices.
Foreign companies and individuals interested in purchasing land or property in Ghana will want to enlist the services of a trusted lawyer and real estate agent to guide them through the purchase process. In-depth knowledge of the local industry and diligent title searches are necessary as land disputes are very common, expensive and time consuming to resolve. There are several agencies in Ghana that offer guidance and consultancy services for potential investors. Foreigners will not encounter any restrictions on purchasing property in Ghana. However, there are certain restrictions on owning land. A non-Ghanaian is not legally allowed to own land, although a Ghanaian company (considered a Ghanaian entity) could legally acquire ownership of a piece of land. It is common for land sales to be made on a long-term lease basis, usually up to 50 years for non-Ghanaians and subject to renewal.