Rwanda to begin construction of US $5bn Green City next year

Development of a model green city in Kigali is set to get underway in January 2020. Eudes Kayumba, Deputy Team Leader of the Green City Pilot project confirmed the reports and said they are finalizing on relevant studies and designs to pave way for construction to begin.

Mr. Kayumba noted that the project aims to showcase the viability of green cities in Rwanda and elements that could be replicated in the development of secondary cities across the country with green technologies and innovations for green and climate resilient urbanization.

Green city

The green city will sit on 620 hectares in Kinyinya Sector, Gasabo District complete with a system that prevents environmental degradation and air pollution. It is estimated to cost a whopping US $5bn and the funding will come from different stakeholders who have committed to pool resources to ensure the completion of the project.

The city will feature clean technologies, electric vehicles, electric bicycle and motorcycle lanes, renewable energy, sustainable waste treatment, biogas plants, urban forests, among others. Construction will mainly use local building materials which will make houses more affordable and environmentally sustainable.

“The estate will also have mini-factories with clean technologies, affordable housing, integrated craft production centres. We are conducting a study to estimate the jobs that will be created based on how the residents of the area generate income,” said Mr. Kayumba.

Currently, Rwanda Green Fund (Fonerwa), with the financial support of the German Development Cooperation – through the KfW Development Bank – is undertaking a feasibility study for the Green Pilot, and contracted Sweco, a European engineering and architecture firm, to support the implementation of the project.

Source: By Kenneth Mwenda

London Living Rent: can you benefit from this affordable housing scheme?

In May 2017, Mayor Sadiq Khan launched London Living Rent, an affordable housing scheme to help middle-income Londoners onto the property ladder. But two years on, are any properties on the market?

Promising below-market rents and the chance to buy your rental home, London Living Rent is an optimistic project that aims to tackle rising house prices.

But you may have to wait a little longer to actually benefit. Currently, the Mayor of London’s ‘Homes for Londoners’ search portal – a hub for affordable housing in the city – has just one listing for properties available through London Living Rent: a yet-to-be-built development in Merton.

So, is London Living Rent a realistic option? And what are the alternatives for Londoners who can’t afford to buy in the expensive capital?

What is Rent to Buy?

London Living Rent shares many features with Rent to Buy – a government initiative aimed at helping renters become homeowners.

Rent to Buy schemes offer lower-than-market rents, and give tenants the chance to buy their rental home, or a share in it, at a later date.

The theory is that lower rental payments will help tenants save for a deposit, which many struggle with in the pricey London property market.

The scheme is run by local Help to Buy agents, which let users search for Rent to Buy properties in their region.

Through our own searches, we could only find a small number of property listings across England (where Rent to Buy operates). Most of them were in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

London Living Rent: how it works

With skyrocketing rents and the most expensive property prices in the country, London Living Rent is a natural fit for the city.

To be eligible for the scheme, you must:

  • be currently renting in London
  • have a household income of £60,000 or under
  • be unable to buy a home (including through shared ownership) in your area.

Rents are set at one-third of each local authority’s average earnings, based on ONS data, adjusted for the number of bedrooms. According to City Hall, this is a ‘significant discount to the market level rent’ in most boroughs.

While many London renters in this income bracket will be able to buy shared ownership properties, London Living Rent gives a leg up to those who can’t afford them.

Yet while the scheme is currently active, the London Living Rent website predicts the majority of homes won’t be available until 2021.

According to the Mayor of London’s Homes for Londoners search portal, only one development in Merton is currently offering it. And this is listed as ‘coming soon’.

Wandle, the housing association behind the development, told Which? that the complex will include eight homes – seven of which would be available through London Living Rent (the other will be sold under shared ownership). They expect building work to be completed in June.

More London Living Rent homes are being built

Though scarce at the moment, the Mayor of London’s office assured Which? that more new-build London Living Rent homes are on the way.

This was backed up by a number of housing associations we spoke to.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told us: ‘London Living Rent is a new sort of affordable home that was introduced through the Mayor’s funding programme.

‘The first homes started to be built two years ago, and in that first year 569 new London Living Rent homes got underway. These new homes and those in following years take some time to be completed and let to tenants, and Sadiq has always been honest that making a difference will take time.’

While the new homes will no doubt make a difference, two housing associations who previously completed London Living Rent projects told Which? that demand far outstripped supply.

Lukman Ahmed, PRS and commercial director at L&Q, told us that 1,000 people applied for the 243 homes they currently let through the scheme. Ahmed also said that L&Q has around 300 more units earmarked for London Living Rent in the future.

David Gooch, executive director of development at Network Homes, told us it had over 2,000 applicants for the 23 London Living Rent properties it launched in Harrow in 2018, and that it is in the final stages of completing some more in Hounslow.

It seems then, that London Living Rent is still picking up steam. But far more homes will need to be completed to cater for everyone who applies.

  • If you think the scheme is for you, keep an eye on the Homes for Londoners search portal.

What are the alternatives for affordable housing in London?

Fortunately for those who can’t take advantage of London Living Rent homes right now, there are other options for affordable housing in the city.

London Help to Buy

London Help to Buy is a government scheme that lets homebuyers in Greater London apply for an equity loan of up to 40% of a property’s value.

It’s open to first-time buyers looking to move into a new-build property worth less than £600,000. You’ll need to save 5% of the deposit yourself.

The equity loan enables you to take out a mortgage at 55% of the property value, potentially enabling you to borrow more at a lower interest rate.

However, keep in mind that after five years, you’ll need to either pay back the equity loan, or start paying interest.


Shared ownership

While London Living Rent homes may be few and far between, Homes for Londoners lists hundreds of properties available under shared ownership across the city.

With shared ownership, you buy between 25% and 75% of a property from a housing association and pay rent of up to 3% on the rest.

To buy your share, you can apply for a mortgage.

Currently, you can buy a 25% share in a one-bedroom apartment in Hackney for £107,500. If you took out a 95% mortgage to cover the rest, you’d need £5,375 in deposit.

In contrast, a 95% mortgage to cover the full price would require a deposit of £21,500.

That being said, it can be difficult to get a shared ownership mortgage. And you’ll have to make sure you can afford to pay the combined total of rent and monthly mortgage repayments, as well as any service charges

London Affordable Rent

Designed for low-income households, London Affordable Rent homes are let at no more than 80% of local market rents, with service charges included. The Greater London Authority (GLA) benchmarks the maximum level these rents can be.

The weekly rent maximums for this year can be found in this table:

Bedsit and one bedroom£155.13
Two bedrooms£164.24
Three bedrooms£173.37
Four bedrooms£182.49
Five bedrooms£191.61
Six or more bedrooms£200.73

Source: London Assembly

Since London Affordable Rent homes are a kind of social housing, you’ll have to apply through your local borough.

Social and council housing

If you’re unable to afford anywhere to live, you may qualify for social housing.

The mayor recently revealed that in 2018-19, City Hall started building the highest number of London council homes in 34 years, and more homes than ever before at social rent levels.

However, you’ll have to put your name on your local borough’s waiting list to apply. On top of this, many boroughs have strict eligibility criteria to decide how to allocate these homes.

After you’ve lived in the property for a number of years, you may become eligible for Right to Buy, allowing you to purchase your home.

Get personalised advice on saving for your first home

If you’re looking to buy an affordable property in London, or anywhere else in the country, an independent mortgage broker can help you get the best mortgage for your circumstances.

They will also be able to advise you while you’re saving, and point you in the direction of schemes that could help.

Source: By Ian Aikman

real estate marketing

5 Fantastic Content Ideas for Real Estate Marketing on Instagram

Instagram is unique from other social media platforms because it is built for mobile-usage. Users must edit and upload content through the app on their phone, while Instagram’s website limits users to viewing, liking, and commenting.

Real estate agents regularly struggle to make content that performs well on Instagram. Those agents who are willing to learn, however, are reaping the rewards in the form of brand awareness and new business.

Instagram content is not limited to well-framed pictures of vibrant home exteriors and interiors. Eye-catching photos are great for promoting certain listings, but you will need a variety of content to engage your audience and gain more followers.

Key Takeaways

  • Promote a listing with an eye-catching photo of the home’s unique features
  • Take your followers on a virtual tour through a listing on your Instagram Story
  • Reinforce your brand with images that reflect your market’s lifestyle and trends
  • Share glimpses into your personal life to form stronger connections with followers
Source: Realvolve


Instagram: The Basics

Here is a quick rundown of what you need to know about Instagram:

  • Instagram is photo and video-sharing social network.
  • Everything is done through the app on your phone (although there is a “lite” desktop-friendly website for viewing posts).
  • Tons of editing options make it easy to create polished and professional-looking images and videos.
  • It’s an ideal platform for targeting a Millennial audience—60% of users are ages 18-34.

Now, if I still have your attention, let’s get to the good part—the tactics! Read on to learn 5 ways you can use Instagram to grow your real estate business and strengthen your relationships.

1) Promote listings

On Instagram, you can get really creative about how you promote your listings.

You can share an eye-catching photo of your listing—like @seatownrealestate does so well—or even a series of photos.

2) Post a virtual tour

In addition to regular posts that show up in the feed, you can also create a Story—a collection of your videos and photos that has a shelf life of just 24 hours—that will appear at the top of a user’s screen.

This is a cool way to do a virtual tour of a property—you can include a mix of short video clips, images, commentary, and captions. And because a Story doesn’t live (publicly) online for all eternity, there’s less pressure to make sure it’s perfect. Your followers will be expecting something more off-the-cuff than a typical social media post.

real estate marketing

3) Share glimpses into your personal life

Don’t just post about listings—allow your followers to learn more about you. Share photos of your life…your dog, your vacation, the sunrise at the end of your morning jog. Just remember to keep a healthy balance—even the most dashing #dogsofinstagram pics aren’t gonna sell houses.

4) Promote your brand

How have you differentiated yourself from other real estate agents in your area? However you’ve branded yourself, you can use Instagram to increase your brand awareness.

5) Provide useful [visual] information

A great way to attract followers on social media is to provide valuable information—something educational or useful.

Design inspiration is a popular topic on Instagram, and a great one for attracting potential future clients. Check out searches like #interiordesign, #homedecor, #farmhousedecor, and #dreamkitchen to see what types of photos people find most interesting. For this type of post, you could even repost other people’s compelling content.

usain bolt real estate investor

World Faster Runner Usain Bolt Becomes Real Estate Investor, Promises Jamaica More Development

        The world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres, 4 × 100 metres relay  race and 3 times Olympic Usain Bolt is now a real estate investor!. The sports celebrity confirmed his association with a Half-Way Tree project on Instagram, saying it was one of several to come, but gave no more details.

Dressed in construction gear, Usain Bolt posted a picture of himself standing in front of the construction site.

“You heard it here first. First of many!! #NoLimits,” he cationed the photo.

It’s rumoured that the development, which is being managed by Gary Matalon’s and Richard Levee’s company, Neustone Limited, will be leased to business process outsourcing clients on completion, but that, too, is to be confirmed.

usain bolt real estate investor

While Usain Bolt appears to be confirming that he is an investor in the property, it’s still unclear whether he is a majority or minority owner and what stake, if any, his development partners hold.

Usain Bolt and Gary Matalon are long-time business partners through KLE Group Limited, the listed company that oversees a casual-dining outfit to which Bolt has licensed his name Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records, or UBTR, which currently has outlets in Jamaica and recently London.

The retired track star’s executive manager, Nugent Walker, declined to comment on the real estate project.

“Thanks for the interest in Usain,” he said on Thursday.

“Sorry. At this time, Usain is not officially commenting on this project. However, when he is, I will be sure to share with you all the information.”

Usain Bolt’s net worth is unknown, but the world’s fastest man is reported to be among the highest earning athletes of all time.

U.S. Mortgage Rates drop Slightly Amid Uncertainty

U.S. mortgage rates modestly fell this week, according to Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 4.07 percent for the week ending May 16, down from 4.10 percent the previous week. A year ago, mortgage rates stood at 4.61 percent.

Low mortgage rates help propel U.S. home sales and the refinance market.

“Modestly weaker consumer spending and manufacturing data, along with continued jitters around trade policy, caused interest rates to decline throughout the yield curve,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

“While signals from the financial markets are flashing caution signs, the real economy remains on solid ground with steady job growth and five-decade low unemployment rates, which will drive up home sales this summer.”

Favorable rates had been helping Dayton-area home sales. However, local home sales fell 8 percent in March, according to Dayton Realtors.

The historic low for 30-year rates was 3.31 percent in November 2012.

Source:  Bizjournals

Six Important Things to Know About Real Estate Valuation in Nigeria

Real estate valuation is the process of making a report which contains information about the present monetary value of a landed-property, the size of the building and the structure on it, the general and technical details, the physical status (especially if there are structural flaws) and the cost of properties with similar attributes in the same area.

The position of a real estate property remains the same in every part of the world – An Asset with fluctuating value. Since assets rarely have a fixed value, the burden lies on the holder of the asset to constantly be abreast with its current value.
Considering the number of variables involved, you can only know the true worth of your property when you engage the service of a property valuation firm like Lansar Aghaji & Co.

Regardless of the method used in achieving this valuation, you should take note of the following variables as they almost always hold the bigger influence whenever a real estate property is being valued in Nigeria.

The present state of the economy: Setting aside the construction and maintenance cost of a property, the present state of the economy is a major determiner of a property’s monetary value. In other words, more money in circulation means that properties will command higher amount and better purchasing power.

Political activities: Politics plays a big role in virtually every stratum of the Nigerian society. A political decision/activity can swing the price of properties in any direction. A case in point is the steep drop in the values of properties in Abuja after the 2015 election.

Architectural Design: properties are created with different architectural aesthetics. While some styles stay longer, others quickly go out of fashion. If your property happens to be one with evergreen or the in-demand style, it will most likely command a higher value.

Location: This variable plays a very significant role in determining the value of your property. You can be assured of a steady increase in the value of your property by its mere presence on a particular location. In the same vein, the government or a corporate body’s decision to sight a particular facility (airport, train station, bus parks or industrial site) in your location can also significantly increase the value of properties. A case in point is how the establishment of a train station in Idu terminal significantly increased the value of all landed properties in Idu and its environs.

Date: This is one of the factors the owner or the valuer has zero control over. Properties demand varying values at different times of the year. The same property that is valued at a particular figure in January might have significantly increased or decreased before the end of the next month due to a recently perceived flaw or any other subjective or objective reason.

The valuing firm: Though the value of most properties are objectively derived by weighing the influence of the above variables and many others, having an experienced real estate valuer can go a long way in wrapping the needed sentiments required to give you a more accurate value of a property. Instead of using quacks, LANSAR AGHAJI & CO will help you achieve this.

The factors that affect the value of a property are obviously more than what is listed above. Also, the influence of any or all of the variables involved can change in a blink. It takes an experienced real estate valuer to quickly recognize these changes and take the corresponding action.

More importantly, property disposal and acquisition are not the only actions that call for property valuation. Taxes, insurance, mortgage application and the need to properly set an appropriate rate for a property are just a few of the reasons why we need the services of a property valuation firm.

Do you have any enquiry about property valuation and why you need it? Contact us at Lansar Aghaji & Co via any of the medium contained on our contact page for an exclusive breakdown of the benefits of property valuation and the important things to note when your property is being valued.

Source: Businesspost

Harrow London assembly member criticises care home fire safety

The London assembly member representing Harrow has urged all care homes in the borough to get their “fire safety standards up to scratch”.

Navin Shah responded to audits carried out by the London Fire Brigade (LFB), which showed that seven care homes in Harrow failed to make the grade.

They were handed either notice of deficiencies or enforcement notices and advised to carry out improvements.

The LFB conducted thousands of safety inspections in buildings across the capital in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Mr Shah said it was worrying that several care homes in Harrow had been deemed in some way unfit and he implored those responsible to rectify this.

He said: “It is very concerning that some of the most vulnerable members of our community are being put at risk in this way.

“These inspections carried out by the LFB have been vital in highlighting, not only a local issue, but one that urgently affects the whole of our capital.

“Care homes have a duty of care to their residents. It is vital they co-operate fully with the LFB to get their fire safety standards up to scratch and take all possible measures to prevent any future tragedies.”

When the initial inspections were carried out, the LFB found that 549 homes in London had deficiencies in their systems – of these, 51 were handed enforcement notices.

Bromley was the worst-performing borough, with 71 care homes failing the audit. At the opposite end of the scale, Merton and Hammersmith and Fulham had just five poor performing homes.

LFB assistant commissioner Dan Daley said it was vital that care home managers regularly check their fire safety procedures to protect all associated with them.

He said: “Care homes need to urgently review their fire risk assessments and ensure their staff know how to safely evacuate their residents, especially those who are immobile.

“If you were placing your loved one into the care of others, you would expect them to be safe but for too many people, the very roof they are sleeping under could put them at risk.”

Source: By Adam Shaw

U.S. Infrastructure Plays May Be Rebuilt If Congress Can Pass New Bill

Repairing America’s infrastructure may be the one thing Congress can agree on.

So let’s look at different ways investors can take advantage of possible government-sponsored funding for infrastructure, whether through paving roads, building bridges, imposing tolls, dredging rivers, creating logistics, and even operating computer server farms.

Rep. Harley Rouda (D., Calif.) said last week that infrastructure may be the only issue on which Republicans and Democrats can come together, appearing on TV with Rep. Rob Woodall (R., Ga.). Both sit on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Look under the hood on these exchange-traded funds and avoid those that have less than $50 million in assets. Tiny funds may not trade very often, which can affect your purchase and sales price in an illiquid market.

Invesco S&P High Income Infrastructure ETF (GHII) has just $58 million in assets, and its holdings are more aligned with utilities and oil and gas. Brookfield Global Infrastructure ETF (TOLZ) has $99 million in assets, and also holds financials and industrials.

TOLZ focuses on companies whose assets include airports, toll roads, ports, communications, electricity distribution, oil and gas storage and transport, and water in developed and emerging markets. Companies must derive more than 70 percent of their cash flows from infrastructure assets, and are excluded if they supply services such as construction and engineering to the infrastructure industry.

Global X U.S. Infrastructure Development ETF (PAVE) and iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF (IFRA) derive significant revenue from within the United States. IFRA, for example, is a nuts-and-bolts type of portfolio, holding engineering and consulting firm NV5 Global, the Cadiz water utility, and Global Brass & Copper Holdings.

Many of these may have risen in price already. SPDR S&P Global Infrastructure ETF (GII) and iShares Global Infrastructure ETF (IGF) rallied in advance of a possible infrastructure deal. PAVE spiked in price earlier this year when President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats agreed to spend $2 trillion to improve infrastructure. PAVE holds companies such as Vulcan Materials, the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads, Eaton Corp., Martin Marietta Materials, and Fastenal Co.

“Politics aside, demand for infrastructure investment is driven by several factors, including demographic trends, depreciation of existing infrastructure, environmental risks, changing preferences, and advances in technology,” notes ETF, a blog covering exchange-traded funds. Accordingly, watch for near- and long-term catalysts to fuel demand for modernization.

In practice, you can bypass ETFs and consider underlying stocks, such as Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (GLDD), which reported a strong first quarter. The company is the largest dredging concern in the U.S.

Or there are subsectors of infrastructure, such as defense contractor and engineering ETFs like iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF (ITA) and Vanguard Industrials ETF (VIS). The latter is heavily weighted towards Boeing, its largest holding at 7 percent of the portfolio, along with railroads and blue chips such as 3M Co., Honeywell International, and United Technologies Corp. Fidelity’s version of an industrials ETF, Fidelity MSCI Industrials Index ETF (FIDU), holds extremely similar companies, as does the iShares Global Industrials ETF (EXI).

There are even ETFs that track sectors affected by legislation. EventShares U.S. Policy Alpha Fund (PLCY) invests in market segments impacted by U.S. government policy and regulation.

Finally, consider research into computer servers, cell towers, and other key data and communications infrastructure. That is the thesis underlying tiny fund SRVR, the Pacer Benchmark Data & Infrastructure Real Estate ETF.

We’re not recommending purchase or sale of any of these – this is merely a starting point to do research into infrastructure plays that may benefit from congressional help.

By Erin Arvedlund

Family Homes Funds to Deliver 4,700 Homes in Borno for IDPs, Civil Servants

Family Homes Funds, a Federal Government housing initiative intended to support the development of up to 500,000 Homes targeted at people on low income over the next 5 years has stated that the fund will soon begin a 4,700 housing project in North-eastern state of Borno.

This was revealed by the Managing Director of Family Homes Funds (FHF), Mr. Femi Adewole while speaking exclusively with Housing News.

He said, ‘’In Borno state, we are just about to sign an agreement with the state. We have been there for a housing programme which is in two parts. There is 1700 homes that is targeted at civil servants, mostly middle and low income civil servants.

‘’A lot of those homes will be in Maiduguri and some of the principal cities. The state is providing the land and the bulk infrastructure to the site. That is already far advanced because all of the sites have been identified, surveyed and the drawings and bills have been prepared.’’

According to him, the Fund will get the board approval for the project sometime early in June 2019 and commence work before the end of same June.

The project which he said is a direct partnership with the state will include a second aspect focused on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

‘’That will be 3000 units. They are small houses built in the outline areas, not necessarily in Maiduguri, but those villages that had been ravaged by the insurgents.

‘’But it is not new. The state has already produced quite a number but what most people are not aware of is the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who have been displaced by Boko Haram who are still living in temporary refugee camps for 3 to 5 years. So the government has a programme of returning them back to their villages which have been liberated. The idea is that we will be joining the government efforts to finance those homes,’’ he added.

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