You’ve got to live. Everyone deserves to be sheltered. Renting a house in the capital of Ghana, Accra and major cities in the country can be a stressful and daunting task that leaves you with headache.
This happens when you don’t know where to look and who to contact. It’s an information-driven activity that has led many people ripped off, whilst others have taken it upon themselves to make a decent living out of it through the acquisition and judicious use of key information in the industry. Opportunities exist, so are the dangers.
Price of Accommodation in Accra
Rent for a house in Accra and Ghana as a whole, depends largely on the location of the building. Location is the major determinant of the price you pay for accommodation. Other factors such as the age of the building, condition, availability of certain facilities and services, also contribute to the rent charged for a property in the major cities.
A three-bedroom property located in an estate at Kuntunse (outskirt of Accra) is rented for GHc450 whilst same building at Dzorwulo, Osu, and Asylum Down, Tesano would be rented for GHc1,500. In Achimota, Kokomlemle, and Kanda, a similar property is rented at GHc1,200. At the high end of the renting pyramid is East Legon, Airport residential area, Labone, Cantonments and Adjiringanor where a four-bedroom property is rented at GHc5,000 and above. It’s about location, location and location.
Takoradi is also seeing steady rise in cost of accommodation over the past five years, as economic activities see growth. Tema and Kumasi are also major cities whose accommodation cost is not materially different from Accra.
Why Rent is High
The housing deficit in the country, especially in the major cities and surrounding towns has put so much power in the hands of accommodation providers at the negotiation table. Prices are demand-driven. Economic activities are centered in and around the major cities which is causing rural-burn migration, hence the housing deficit. Secondly, the growth of foreigners in the cities has put some pressure on accommodation, causing demand for properties to push prices higher.
The absence of mortgages for the middle class and lower class has forced prices to shoot up so much so that decent accommodation is not affordable by a large number of the population. Eligibility for mortgages in Ghana will require that you earn a minimum of GHc3,000 per month, an amount that practically disqualifies about 80 percent of the population.
If mortgages were available and accessible by a larger portion of the population, there is a high possibility that rent would not be as high as it is. In absolute terms, rent in Ghana is not as high as you would find in places like the UK, the US, parts of Europe and even Dubai, but the standard of living and the average earnings of the Ghanaian makes it very expensive.
The rent control body in the country is particularly in charge of making sure that property owners and landlords do not demand beyond six months rent for accommodation seekers. However, the regulation has been practically set aside by both landlords and property seekers alike, demanding and paying in advance rent covering period of 24 months usually. Prices however are dictated by the economic forces of demand and supply.
Agents and Fees
The high rent charged for accommodation in the cities is made worse by the unavoidable acts of agents (middlemen who assist accommodation seekers to get properties to rent). These agents are usually men who demand fixed amount known as registration fee which basically entitles you to their service, and a variable portion which is usually 10% of the total rent to be paid. Because you usually don’t have the time to roam the whole of Accra looking properties, you are usually compelled to rely on the unreliable agents.
Online Portals (Developments and Challenges)
The emergence of online portals has made the search for homes easier than before. Tonaton.com and meqasa are some the online portals bringing property owners and seekers together for onward transaction. With online portals, agents are taken out of the equation.
The online market is at the development stage and has some challenges. Among these challenges are inability to transact (make online payments) directly online without meeting the owner face-to-face, the need to verify the existence of the property and its condition and low penetration of internet use among adults, together are major deterrents to the growth and use of online platforms for property search and transactions. Such challenges have left the established role of agents unshaken.
Mortgage Market in Ghana
Mortgages are expected to help the industry grow by playing a key financing role in the property market. However, their role has been very minimal and limited to only the rich or gainfully employed. Most of these mortgages are dollar denominated, making it quite unattractive for the Ghanaian whose earnings are in the local currency, cedi…..a currency that has show high levels of depreciation against its major trading currencies over the past years.
The situation with residential properties is not so different from what pertains to commercial properties.
What’s Next for the Property Market?
The property market in Ghana has been recently flooded with many real estate developers as a result of the high markups in the industry. Thousands of properties have sprung within and around Accra and other cities, but remains expensive for the wallets of the average Ghanaian.
Try and make the most use of online portals to minimize the agent’s cost, seek the services of professional estate lawyers, and choose properties after careful examination of properties to select the best deal. In all these, there are very good deals in the city of Accra, if you’re willing to take your time and carefully go through your options.