Remittances are classically defined as monetary funds sent by individuals working abroad to recipients in their home country. Here in Ghana, it is a very common practice to have relatives abroad send money to family members to build or purchase family homes. Such monies are usually sent to trusted family members with the thought that when they finally get back to the country, they would have a place to lay their heads without having to think of monthly rents. They spend most of their lives abroad working so hard, even sometimes OVERTIME with huge tax burdens. Some of them end up accepting job offers that are way below their qualifications. But their toil is not a hopeless one. As they work so hard, they can smile because there is definitely going to be light at the end of the tunnel. Their lives would never be the same once they return to Ghana. But do they always come back to Ghana to meet what they actually expected? Here is the story of Ato, a 27 year-old “BORGA”
Ato was on a skype call with his old time Achimota school buddy, Kwaku just catching up on old times and discussing the latest gossip in town. They were far apart. Ato was in London and Kwaku was in Jamaica but they made a conscious effort to still keep in touch.
“But what’s the agenda this summer?” Kwaku asked. We need to meet up. “Haha. Bro, so many plans this summer. From beach parties to home parties to clubbing to a trip to Greece”. “I believe you can tag along”, Ato said. “Exciting plans, Ato! Just let me know the proposed dates and I will be there”.
Just after speaking to Kwaku, Ato reached out for his other phone, scrolled through his notifications, only to realize that he had missed 10 calls from his mum. “O Gosh what could it be this time?” He wondered. With the hope that it wasn’t one of those calls prone to ruin his day, Ato dialed his mum’s number and placed it on speaker as he cuddled up himself in bed. Mama picked up after the first ring in haste. As if she did not care about Ato’s wellbeing, she shouted out loud, “Ato, you must come home this summer!!!!!” In fury, Ato asked, “why this time of the year?” “Why mama, why?” Mama said, “My son it’s for your own good ooh. Guess what? I have gotten a potential wife for you after all these years. This has been your prayer all these years, my son please just come home ok”.
“Hmm Mama that means I have to cancel all my plans this summer”, Ato said. “Opportunities come once in a lifetime ooh, forget about all this summer nonsense and come home!”, shouted Mama. As obedient as Ato was, he succumbed to her demand. Mama continued, “Ahaa, my son, I want you to buy a house in Ghana before you arrive, just to show your friends, relatives and future in-law that you are not a small boy”. “That’s a great idea mum but who’s going to handle purchase?”, Ato asked. “Don’t worry my son Uncle Basa will take care of all that. Just send the money. It’s a 3 bedroom fully furnished house located at East Legon”. “Alright Mama. I will secure a loan from the bank and send you the first down payment by close of the week. Thanks and bye”.
On 25th July, Ato arrived in Ghana. In the company of his mum and Uncle Basa, Ato headed towards his supposed new house. When they got to the house, they realized that lights were already on and could hear sounds of people chit chatting. It sounded like there was a family already in there but that was supposed to be Ato’s house. To clear doubts, they decided go in and speak to someone in the house. Upon a few consultations, they got to know that the family had purchased the house 4 years ago and it still remained their place of abode.
At that moment, Uncle Basa’s faced was filled with shame because apparently, he just did the transaction with the agent on phone by sending the first down payment without inspecting the premises. The whole purchase was a scam! That was the end of Ato’s USD 20,000 investment.
Dear buyer, BEWARE!
Real Estate is a big investment and it’s always best for you to perform due diligence before taking that bold step to purchase any property on the market.
To do due diligence means to do thorough and proper investigations to be fully convinced that the property is free from encumbrances. This can be done by inspecting the property to be sure whether it is actually what you’ve seen in pictures and also doing an official search at the Lands Commission. The search reveals ownership information on the property.
On the other hand, if you are not in the capacity to do that yourself, employ the services of a qualified estate agency of good reputation. Conduct an extensive background check on the company and assess reviews from customers who have patronized their services until you are fully satisfied that the agency is suitable for the job. The advantages of hiring a good estate agent is that, they are able to negotiate very well, they have adequate knowledge about the property market, understand the procedures and can deal with the paperwork efficiently.