Green Financing in Real Estate

Author: Robert Nutifafa Arku

The submission of a group project report on a research study undertaken is a milestone in attaining a bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. My preference was to explore topics relating to housing issues (e.g., housing deficits) in Ghana.  However, the team leader, Eunice, had her ideas – Examining the concept of Green Buildings in Ghana.

The rest of the team – Claudette, Tracy, Fiifi and I – were a little hesitant as this topic was quite new to us. She, however, succeeded in bullying motivating us so much that we all finally agreed to explore the topic. This was a great learning experience, as I was exposed to how various real estate development and related processes can be used as a tool to attain environmental sustainability.

Financing is an important tool in real estate development and processes. There has been recent interest in using this tool to advance the goals of environmental sustainability, globally (especially in China). This is termed as Green Financing.

Green Financing in real estate is a structured financial activity (e.g., loans, debt mechanisms, investments, etc.) geared towards funding real estate projects with ‘green’ or environmental benefits. Such projects relating to environmental protection and sustainable development include renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, green buildings, and green technologies.

This financing mechanism can be pursued to achieve the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including goals #6, #7, #11, #13 and #15.

The built environment is an integral part of the natural environment. It is therefore important that human activities and projects are carried out using environmentally-friendly and safe practices to ensure better environmental outcomes.

This article is the first of a series on sustainable (green) real estate investing. Stay connected as we bring you more insights on the subject of green financing.

About the Author:

Robert Nutifafa Arku

The author is currently pursuing an MSc. degree in Urban Planning at the University of Waterloo, Canada. He also holds a BSc. degree in Land Economy from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. His experience has been in the fields of research and teaching. Aside his professional interests, he is a lover of music.
Robert Nutifafa Arku
@ArkuNutifafa

It’s not only about the money; Why Ghanaians Avoid Mortgages

Housing is expensive and the most tasking singular expense many households ever bear. As such, most people who are unable to afford outright purchase resort to any of the following – mortgages, incremental housing, housing associations, informal loans and crowdfunding.  

For the average Ghanaian, mortgages represent an alternative that is far too expensive and impractical, considering the down payments and high interest rate. However, there are also several socio-economic biases that motivate Ghanaians to avoid them:

  • Social stigma towards debt

Many Ghanaians have some level of apprehension towards the use of debt, particularly for an undertaking as significant as constructing one’s home. In contemporary times, most people determine their personal worth by their financial standing, and being in debt is seen as the very opposite of financial worth. This view is shared by well over 60% of individuals interviewed, and represents the most significant reason beyond the high interest rates. This bias seems to be a bigger issue for men than it is for women, with 26% more men stating this reason. This aversion towards debt particularly by the males may be attributable to the trite sentiment that ‘the man provides’.

  • Fear of losing one’s home to foreclosure

Possibly influenced by the large number of foreclosures in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2007, the fear of foreclosures has been etched in the psyche of many homeowners. About 57% of respondents highlighted a fear of foreclosures, regardless of the fact that the banks insist they have not completed any such measures between 2013 and 2017. 

  • Distrust of financial institutions

Particularly in developing economies such as Ghana, there exists mutual suspicion between people and the financial institutions. This is as a result of common belief that the banks ‘are out to get them’, and this belief discourages a number of prospective home owners from exploring mortgages as a financing option. Just shy of 1 in 2 people consider this reason significant, a distrust that seems more pronounced with higher amounts of money. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Albert is a graduate of MSc. Real Estate Finance
from the Henley Business School, University of
Reading with experience in the areas of academic
research and teaching.
His research interests are in the areas of behavioral economics, mortgages, commercial real estate and alternative housing finance with a focus on developing countries and emerging markets.

What You Should Know About Flipping In Real Estate

You might have heard about how lucrative and satisfying flipping is on several occasions and how people like Scott Yancey, his wife Amie Yancey and their goliath company have made a great deal of fame and fortunes through their televised ‘flipping Vegas’ show, which has since been successfully replicated by other shows in other parts of the United States. For those of you who have no idea what flipping is, this write-up is for you!

Flipping! What does this mean in real estate?

You know the ”buy-hold and later sell at profit” principle which has been in the real estate market for all these years? Flipping is the American term used in referring to a more refined and relatively faster approach of applying the above principle. Flipping involves buying particular real estate portfolios which are a little worn out or out of shape in appearance decor, fixing them fast and putting them back on the market within a very short time.
With flipping, the main principle is to identify structures which are structurally sound but are devalued based on how they look. The appearance and finish of any real estate; dwellings especially are usually patronized based on how they look. Flipping capitalizes on this key factor as it involves identifying a property which may be old and appear out of fashion or a property whose existing used has caused its value to take a hit.
Such structures are acquired mainly through listing on specific websites that allow you to post the home you intend to sell for free to receive public exposure.
When such a structure is acquired cheap, a thorough assessment is made of the key features such as plumbing, structural soundness, roofing and air conditioning. The elements in good conditions are kept while all the other dysfunctional parts are replaced with newer and much better substitutes. After these components are taken care of, the attention is shifted to improving the property aesthetically.
Attention is focused on the interior decor and outside outlook, grounds work and backyard landscaping. Kitchens and washrooms are keen for more family oriented products. Flooring, kitchen countertops, cabinets, tiles, walking closets, interior designs and carpet choices among many other finishes both for interior and exterior are adopted based on recommendations of skilled designers employed by the flipper. These installations and modifications are however always subjected to a budget and a timeline.
The finished work is a piece of beautiful real estate product whose value sometimes is twice to triple the value of the older product purchased from the listing. Now the estate agents list this finished product or holds an open house for viewing.
There are however some key things to note for anyone who wants to venture into the quick money making world of flipping.
• Commit to the flip. The first step in any real estate adventure is to commit. So many people want to get into house flipping and get really excited, but they don’t actually commit to going the distance. House flipping is not a hobby – it’s a business that can affect your financial future. Do not enter into it lightly
• Educate yourself on flipping houses. It’s necessary to do before jumping into a house flip. I am suggesting you take you study or seek the help of professionals who know about flipping and remodeling structures.
• Market research. Next, you are going to want to take a look at the market and decide where the best place to flip will be. Every market is different, so you need to have a good handle on the market you plan to get into.
So I want to end this write up with a series of questions, why has an emerging real estate sector of Ghana not ventured into flipping? Or is the general real estate climate of Ghana an obstacle to flipping as real estate avenue? Or just maybe the property acquisition process in Ghana makes venturing into flipping portfolio a wild goose chase.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephen Awuah is a Land Administration Officer with the Lands Commission of Ghana and a graduate of BSc. Land Economy from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. He is passionate about Real Estate investments. He also loves reading, music and sports.

Our Fore-Fathers Were Their Own Interior Decorators

It would amaze you to know that while most of us tout interior designs to be something of the contemporary world of real estate, the idea of decorating rooms had always been in existence.
Yes! Our fore-fathers were their own interior designers.
In Ghana, our fore-fathers used various elements of nature to beautify their spaces:

  1. They Used the Skin of Animals as Door Mats and Chair Coverings:

This was very common in the Northern parts of Ghana where the rearing of cattle and sheep is common. Houses in ancient Ghanaian societies often used the skin of animals such as sheep to create door mats at the entrance of rooms. They also used the skin of animals as chair coverings.
Chairs that had such coverings were the special seats for very important guests and the head of the family. Such ancient decorations were very common in the homes of influential people such as kings, king-makers and members of the royal family.

  1. Decorated Stools with Adinkra Symbols Were Used as Seats

In place of luxurious sofas, our fore-fathers used beautifully-crafted chairs made with Adinkra symbols (illustrated Ghanaian symbols with meanings). These stools were often used during story-telling around a bonfire or used to receive guests. They were also used by African mothers in kitchen when preparing meals. Children sat on these chairs to eat.

  1. They Had Beautifully-Woven Baskets Serving as Kitchen Cabinets
    The indigenous societies also used woven baskets as storage for cooking pots, fish, fruits, etc.
    These woven baskets not only provided storage in the kitchen but were the beauty spots of ancient kitchens.
  1. Colourful African Prints Were Used as Bed Coverings and Curtains

Colourful prints were used as bed coverings and as curtain. These created bright colours in
bedrooms and were usually hand-sewn by African mothers.

  1. Aesthetically-carved clay pots, pots and jars

Clay pots, jars and cups were nicely arranged on tables to beautify kitchens and rooms. Very
big pots served as storage for water, while the pots were used for cooking.

  1. There was always an element in the house that represented the main trade of the homeowner:
    Typically, you would find a musket hanged in a hunter’s bedroom, a well-arranged set of
    cutlasses, hoes and baskets in a farmer’s house. You are also likely to find a fishing net, a hook and a line in a fisherman’s house.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Makafui Abena Kuffo is a student of Msc. Real Estate of Henley Business School, University of Reading with specialization in Real Estate Securities, Real Estate Portfolio Management and Housing Markets and Policy. She also co-founds the Saasepedia group. She is passionate about educating society