Real Estate Brokerage 101
If you have been reading my articles on real estate, you will know that Ghanaians value property and have lots of sentimental attachment to them, especially homes. In fact, for every Ghanaian it is more than a dream come true to own a property.
Unfortunately, the level of affection and connection with property owning is not proportional to the kind of treatment given to the same properties. As many property owners depreciate the value of their properties than appreciate it. A few also do their best to maintain the value.
While some have attributed the phenomenon to the alleged poor maintenance culture of majority of Ghanaians, others believe it is due to lack of exposure and understanding of the importance in giving one’s property a value addition treatment.
However, recent happenings in the real estate sector indicates that the situation is changing with some people developing interest in ways to give their homes and other properties better treatment to improve their value.
As a matter of fact, I have had a lot of clients who were interested in selling a property, buying or building one ask me how they could improve the value of the property over time. Honestly, it serves the individual better if he or she takes initiative to make his or her property worth more than when it was first acquired.
To this end, this week’s article will try to provide some ways to add value to one’s property and earn more from it. I will try as much as possible to make the tips cover low end, intermediary and high end properties.
Until you are intentional on what value you want your property to accrue, it will be difficult to see your property appreciate in value. To be intentional means to plan and be purposeful and not impulsive about your desire to add more value to your property.
Irrespective of what kind of property it is; thus new or old, luxurious or budget; it is only planning than can make your value addition agenda a reality. Write down all you want to do. It could be as small as changing the carpet in the building to constructing a whole edifice.
With your financial muscle in mind put prices to all that you want to do. Having done this, you can then talk to a real estate professional like myself, to put your idea in proper perspective. The point is, whether you want to sell the said property or live in it much longer, you will have to align the additions and improvements you want to make into real value so that you do not lose out. Know that some improvements will add more value to your property than others, the real estate professional can help you know which is which.
Be Realistic and Prioritise
Being realistic is the reason you want to talk to the real estate professional about your improvement plans, especially when you want to sell, lease or rent after the process. Talking to a professional also helps to assess how well you know your property. If you do not, then you have to get to know it. If you do, you can start.
This is after you have categorized the improvements into how much the components will cost, including your time and money. You also must take cost estimates from contractors if you will require their services, so that you do not go and begin to break things down anyhow and commence when you do not have the money to finish or the time to supervise to ensure it is properly done.
With your finances, time and resources in mind, you start systematically. Do not rush, just make sure whatever is started gets to be completed. You can start with one room at a time to ensure high completion rate.
Low Cost Improvements
In Ghana, a lot of people do not value the little things when it comes to adding value to their properties. What many consider value addition is the major high-end improvements which require bigger capital. However, it will interest you to know that there are a lot of simple and less costly things you as a property owner can do to add value. Despite being low cost, they can make a great difference by making your property appealing and having more value. Most of these improvements can be done by yourself without necessarily contracting others. They include;
No one wants a problematic property. if you live in Ghana, you will know that a property without the right documentation is susceptible to ownership dispute and litigation. A well-documented property outstrips a non-documented property any day. So always ensure that your properties have the right documents. This can give your property more value whenever you decide to sell, rent or lease.
Never underestimate cleaning. It is the easiest and an immediate way of improving the value of your property. Cleaning must cover both within, outside and around your property. Get rid of garbage, bad odor and all forms of dirt.
You will be amazed at how different your property will look by simply ensuring daily cleaning practices. Let me put it this way; which house or property will you chose when two properties (one dirty and the other clean) with the same features is presented before you? I bet you will choose the clean one and even be ready to pay more for that than the dirty one. Never let dirt linger, check it as and when they arise. It is cheaper and also healthier.
- Painting and a Curb Appeal
Learn to constantly keep the walls of your property clean and intact as it can transform a tired and defaced wall into a fresh looking property. You should always try neutral colors which are more appealing and last longer too than the very bright colors which attracts dirt faster as it may need frequent repainting.
A curb appeal is how appealing and attractive a house or property looks at first glance. You know that attraction you see when you see certain properties; the walkway, the lawn, flowers etc which are not major expenses although costs something but gives a property a distinct look? That is what a curb appeal is. So spend time to and money to do this as it may be as affordable as strategically placed flower ports, outdoor lighting, distinct painting of the main door etc. or a higher cost like new walkways, or driveways, a summer hut etc. the higher the investment the higher the value.
- Change Fixtures and Maximize Space Use
These are usually minor fixtures of a property. They include doorknob, light switch cover, cabinets, shelves, doors, windows, locks among others. Or even a light fixture is an easy way to breathe new life into a space.
Although buying, renting and leasing a fully furnished property is not that popular in Ghana, it is key for those who want to do that to ensure the spaces in their property are well used. Buyers get inspired and attracted to properties that are functional. How furniture is placed, the size and quantity can shore up the value of the property.
Security is very essential for every property, be it land or building. You under estimate that at your own peril. The issue of security improvements on a property can be low or high cost. These include fixing of exterior lights all around the house, building a fence wall, a good gate, door bells, CCTV cameras among others. No matter your security choice, always make sure it is done with the mind to add value to the property. A safe house is always worth much more than an unsafe one. Hence, attracts the right buyers who can pay you your property’s worth.
Moderate to High Cost Improvements
Now let’s look at moderate to high cost improvements. These kind of improvements costs more and can be seen in most cases as minor or major renovations.
Considering the costs involved in these kinds of upgrades can potentially add significant value to your property. This range from adding an architectural detail, better doors and windows, changing the floor of the building (e.g tiling, hardwood), remodeling the kitchen and the bathroom to replacing plumbing and ceiling.
We can also talk about pulling down a wall to make the hall bigger, creating a bathroom in a bedroom, expanding a building to have an additional bedroom among others.
Major renovations therefore comprise all minor improvement and renovations put together as one project. Doing it all together as one usually costs a lot more but beneficial in the medium to long term.
Beware of Overdose Improvement
In as much as you want to add value to your property, be mindful to do it reasonably because it will be unwise for you to spend so much on a renovation when you are not sure of returns on your investment. This is the reason I recommended earlier that before you do make the improvements, conduct a research, talk to contractors and real estate developers like CBC Properties Limited, especially when you want to sell the property. This way, you will have made a value added investment.
A practical way to ensure this is by finding out the projected worth of your property after renovation, popularly referred to as After-Repair-Value or ARV. With this figure, you can then take out the cost of the property, the difference is what should guide how much you should spend on the improvements.
One last thing; know that the location, security, amenities and atmosphere in which your property is situated can also add value to the property. For instanced a serviced land (land with access to utilities) is more valuable than land that is not serviced.
The writer is the CEO of CBC Properties Limited, a member of the Ghana Association of Real Estate Brokers (GAR) and Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA); Email: [email protected] Cell: 0204225002