Interview: Kiran Daswani
In what ways do you expect housing demand to shift as Ghana’s economy moves into an economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic?
KIRAN DASWANI: Historically, an economic recovery leads to a higher demand for housing. This upturn in the economy leads to an increase in property prices, as well as more disposable income in the hands of business owners and salaried workers alike. Moreover, as housing values rise and the economy stabilises, lenders tend to loan more, further driving demand for property. It is expected we will see such a trend as the economy recovers in 2022 and beyond.
How is awareness and demand around issues of sustainability impacting home and community design in new developments?
DASWANI: Being green is no longer considered solely trendy – it is becoming more a need and a demand from many consumers. Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular, and the installation price of panels has dropped, making them more affordable for homeowners. If developers do not want to increase costs by providing the panels, they can fit the properties with pre-installation systems so they are solar-panel ready. Using smart technologies, residents will be able to control appliances and air conditioning from a distance, or with pre-programming methods, to maximise efficiency.
To what extent are smart and other technologies visible in recent developments, and how will they reshape mixed-use projects?
DASWANI: There are several types of mixed-use projects, including purely commercial – combining retail and office space – which tends to be very common. Another type is retail and residential units, as well as fully combined developments with retail, office, residential and even hotel developments. Smart security systems are a key element that facilitates this cohabitation. Indeed, smart technologies help us create new mixed developments as they allow for complex security methods using smart access, biometrics and apps. Residents do not need to worry about security from the commercial areas, and they benefit from proximity to shops.
Residences that offer such services often are quite lucrative. To tap into this trend, our company entered into an agreement with a commercial property developer in Accra to build residential units adjacent to their commercial development with both offices and retail units. There will be direct access between the residential to the commercial areas, with security systems ensuring privacy.
What impact do you expect regulations and stronger ownership rights to have on demand from foreign buyers investing in real estate?
DASWANI: Landownership rights affect not only foreign buyers, but also Ghanaians living abroad. Many have had many problems with land rights and are avoiding the local market. Regulations and a central digital registrar will allow for full transparency of title transfer from the legitimate owner, and will boost confidence among both expatriate Ghanaians and foreigners. This process has already started.
There is a disconnect between housing prices in the formal market and income levels in the informal economy, and fiscal reform would be needed to resolve it. It would necessitate tax reductions, as well as the allowance of tax deductions for money spent on property – especially when it is a first home. This will lead to more individuals declaring income from the informal economy. This in turn would boost the economy due to the circulation of money. India has done this, halving the tax rate for high-income brackets. This incentivised people to declare their income in order to qualify for property deductions and access to the mortgage market.
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