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Budget 2019:Ghana to build 200,000 Low cost houses

President Nana Akufo-Addo has announced a comprehensive plan including a ¢1 billion Housing Fund, to address the country’s housing deficit.

Making the announcement Thursday, during his third State of the Nation’s Address (SONA) to Parliament, he said the initiative is “aimed at targeting low-income earners.”

Acknowledging the importance of housing and the “long-standing problem that gets worse” by the passage of time, he said his government will do its best to address the challenge.

The President said in addition to the setting up of the Fund, targeted to complete existing housing projects which are at various stages of completion, his government will deal with the challenge of accommodation comprehensively.

According to him, government has also allocated funds in the 2019 budget to build 200,000 housing units to further augment the housing stock of the country aimed at relieving government workers, the police and the armed forces of housing challenges.

President Akufo-Addo also hinted of a draft plan to get rid of Nima as one of the oldest slums in the country.

The plan according to the president, “will not dislodge a single person in Nima” but will decently accommodate them in the new housing plan.

The President is hopeful that this massive housing project will create massive jobs for artisans, dealers in building materials and financial institutions across the nation.

His prescription of the housing challenge for 2019 is a marked departure from what he proffered in 2018 when he addressed parliament the same time last year.

In that address he said government’s “abolishing of the 5% VAT/NHIL on real estate sales will be consolidated by a continues process to create “a conducive environment that is reducing interest rates on mortgage loans.”

He added that “discussions are also on-going between the Pensions Regulatory Authority and the Banks to underwrite an effective mortgage system. This will facilitate access to housing for the ordinary budget.

“Government will also continue to create the enabling environment that will promote private sector investment in cheaper housing for the people, he said to parliament in the year 2018,” he said.

Source: Ghanaweb

How to Sell Your House Without a Real Estate Agent in 2019

If you want to save as much as 7% of the sale price that your real estate agent and the buyer’s agent will share as their commission, you might want to sell your home yourself. Here’s how:

Step 1: Prepare Your House to Be Marketed

You can’t just let total strangers wander around inside your home, checking for storage space – they are looking at its potential for their lifestyle, not yours.

So what can you do with the things you have in places potential buyers will want to consider for their own things? Get a storage unit to house the things you won’t need while your home is on the market. A place to hide all those things currently sitting in your garage, your attic, your basement, in closets, or even in a crawlspace. Advisers generally recommend removing about a third of such things from your home – anything you don’t use every day. And if you store it in a portable unit, it can all be brought to your new home.

Removing personal photographs and other personal memorabilia allows prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in your house, making it easier to focus on your house’s highlighted features. By the same token, don’t distract from the house itself with art, as your taste may not be the same as a buyer’s.

Deep-clean the house – scrub the kitchen counters and appliances, shampoo the carpets, clean tile or linoleum floors, and dust the shelves.

Remember that a dark or poorly lit home feels depressing. Use natural and artificial light, and even perhaps a fresh coat of paint, to brighten up the interior of your home.

Don’t forget the outside of your home – the first thing most buyers will see. Trim and shape hedges, edge the lawn, refresh mulch beds. If your siding is older, consider pressure-washing it, along with your walkways and driveway. You could even paint a fresh coat on your trim and shutters. Everything matters to buyers, even something like the brass on the front door. And know that flowers, particularly near the entrance, add color and make a home appear inviting.

Step 2: Price Your Home Competitively, to Sell

Use the internet to get an idea of sales prices for comparable homes in your neighborhood and price yours accordingly. That’s what real estate agents and tax assessors do anyway. Don’t forget, your goal is to sell your home, not to price it out of a desire to keep it.

Step 3: Get a Flat Fee Listing from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

The Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, contains the nation’s most comprehensive list of real estate for sale. In addition to being available to agents, the MLS is also available to prospective buyers for search purposes in some areas. While the MLS is local to your area, once listed on the MLS of your area, your listing may feed to national real estate websites such as Zillow (ZG – Get Report) and others. Services exist that will charge you a few hundred dollars to list your property on the MLS. Search online for “Flat Fee” MLS to find similar services in your area.

Step 4: Market Your Property

Besides just listing your home on the MLS, you should advertise using “for sale” signs, brochures, advertising online, and building a web site to market the property. The ‘For Sale By Owner’ website FSBO.com offers home-selling packages for homeowners. The packages include items like brochures and yard signs. There are costs involved in advertising the sale of your home, but they will be a fraction of an agent’s commission.

Step 5: Hold an Open House

You don’t need an agent to hold an open house to advertise the sale of your home. You can do it yourself. Advertise your open house like any real estate agent would, by posting it online and placing signs in your neighborhood.

Provide some light refreshments and set out brochures around the home that visitors can take with them. Recent studies have shown the scent of baking cookies does not, contrary to a popular belief, help sell a home. However, recognizable scents such as citrus, pine, basil, cedar, vanilla and cinnamon have been found the most desirable by buyers.

Step 6: Know the Selling Points of Your Property

When writing your advertisements for websites or brochures, make sure to include basic information about the house: the price, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, lot size, location, and any specific details that make the house special to potential buyers – its age, style, building materials, yard, garden or trees are just a few such items.

Look at other listings on real estate websites, Craigslist, or other sites to get an idea of the details sellers and agents are including. For example, they might mention things you didn’t think about, like oversized windows, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops.

Step 7: Negotiate With the Buyer Yourself

You’ve found a buyer. Now what? A buyer will submit a contract to the seller. The seller can accept the offer, or revise the contract with the seller’s preferences and resubmit it to the buyer. Until both parties agree and sign a contract, the process continues. Most states have a standard contract for real estate purchases. If you are not familiar with the contract, as with any contract, you should have it reviewed by an attorney.

Step 8: Be Sure to Comply With All Laws in Your Area

Some laws apply to the sale of a home no matter where you live, such as the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act stipulates that sellers cannot discriminate against buyers for reasons including race, religion, and sex. While you can find contracts and other agreements online, they aren’t specific to your unique situation, so it would be a good idea to have a real estate attorney review all documents and contracts related to your home’s sale.

Step 9: Pick the Right Time to Sell Your Home

The best time to sell a home is usually spring and summer. However, because of that, buyers can be pickier as more homes will be on the market at those times.

What Does a Real Estate Agent Actually Do?

Real estate agents do essentially four things to earn a commission. An agent lists your house on the local MLS, markets your house with fliers, brochures, ads and a website; arranges showings of your house and may host open house events; and acts as an intermediary when negotiations between a buyer and seller are entered, and accompanies you at the closing. Agents don’t get paid until they close a deal, so it is in their best interest to close a deal.

Here Are 5 Tips for Selling Your Home:

  • Prepare your house to be marketed. Remember, you’re looking to make your house appealing to a new buyer, not just a comfortable place to visit like a guest.
  • Price your house competitively, especially during the spring and summer when most homes are sold.
  • Get a flat fee listing on your local MLS, so that your home can be searchable online by agents as well as prospective buyers, nationwide.
  • Market your house by listing it online, with a website, photographs, and even yard signs and curb appeal as well as by “staging” it as a potential home for buyers inside.
  • Know your home’s selling points. You know your home better than anyone else, so you know what inspired you to buy it in the first place and what you’ve done to it that might inspire someone else to want to buy it.

Source: The Street

Councils in England are not providing enough homes- Report

A third of councils in England are failing to tackle the housing crisis as they are not delivering the new homes needed and could face sanctions, official figures show.

The data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) shows that 108 local authorities failed to meet the 95% delivery target. They are now required to set out action plans to explain why they missed their targets and how they will address the failure.

These figures are published for the first time and will be used to incentivise councils to drive up housing delivery. The new Housing Delivery Test has been calculated using figures for total net homes delivered over a three year period which is divided by the total number of homes required over a three year period.

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The figures also show that another 87 of these local authorities failed to deliver 85% of the homes they need and will therefore be subject to a buffer, which requires them to add 20% more homes to their five year land supply.

No area delivered fewer than 25% of their housing need, which means none will face the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ penalty. However, the presumption penalty threshold will increase to 45% from November 2019 and to 65% in November 2020.

If the Government had not given areas three years to meet the 65% threshold, 32 local authorities would have been subject to the penalty.

‘These figures show that a majority of councils are rising to the challenge and delivering the homes their communities need,’ said Housing minister Kit Malthouse.

According to Richard Beresford, NFB chief executive, members would have preferred local authorities be in control of their own housing destiny but, since many are failing in their duty to meet housing demand and underestimating housing need, incentives are needed.

‘Since the carrot of meeting housing need themselves is not enticing enough for local planners, the Government’s stick of penalties and buffers is clearly required. We have a housing crisis and the Government is taking appropriate steps to fix it,’ he said.

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the House Builders Association (HBA), believes that councils need to do a better job assessing housing need and identify where homes can be built more quickly.

‘If they continue to underestimate demand and focus on large, controversial developments, we expect the housing crisis to worsen and the Government to take control from failing councils,’ he said.

In Nigeria 6 people fall into poverty every minute

LAGOS: “I eat anything I see,” says Abdul Edosa, 30, as he sits under the bridge in the sprawling Nigerian commercial metropolis of Lagos, where he sleeps.

“I beg money from people – anything they give me, I eat.”

Edosa’s is a familiar voice in the country with the world’s largest number of extremely poor, which the United Nations defines as living on less than US$1.90 a day.

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The estimated figure now is 87 million people or almost half the population of Africa’s biggest oil producer, and unless something dramatic happens, it’s going to get much bigger.

While poverty in India, which has five times the population, is declining, the number of destitute in Nigeria is believed to be growing by six people every minute, according to a recent paper from The Brookings Institution.

The UN expects its population to double to 410 million by 2050, potentially swelling the ranks of the poor.

Edosa usually passes his nights with a handful of men and women on makeshift wooden beds under the bridge in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos state.

Police trying to chase them away are a constant menace.

A high-school dropout who did a stint as a television-repair apprentice, he now heads off each morning to look for odd jobs at building sites or hits the streets to beg.

He won’t be casting a ballot in the elections scheduled for Saturday, when President Muhammadu Buhari hopes to win re-election against multi-millionaire Atiku Abubakar, and never registered to vote.

A man lies on a bench in the Ikeja Under Bridge area of Lagos. (Bloomberg pic)

“I never see food chop na to go vote for person I go do,” he says in pidgin English, meaning, “I haven’t seen food to eat, is voting going to be my priority?”

Poverty started to deepen in Nigeria at the time of the 1970s oil-price boom that propelled it into the ranks of Africa’s wealthiest countries.

As the elite grew richer through patronage networks in the petroleum industry, successive military and civilian governments neglected agriculture, manufacturing and education.

A study prepared for the UK Department for International Development showed real annual per-capita income fell from US$264 to US$250 between 1970 and 1999 despite an estimated US$230 billion in oil revenue.

The West African nation ranks 144 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s 2018 corruption perceptions index.

“As soon as Nigeria discovered oil, its society and structure of governance have never been optimised to produce good leadership,” said Michael Famoroti, an economist and partner at Stears, a Lagos-based research and analytics firm.

“The discovery of oil essentially made Nigerian leadership lazy. And we are still suffering from that legacy.”

Today, Nigeria ranks 157 out of 189 countries in the UN Human Development Index, which measures indicators such as health and inequality.

Life expectancy is still only 54 years, although that’s an improvement from 46 years in 1999.

About 80% of people who earn an income is active in the informal sector or have what the UN calls “vulnerable employment,” work that lacks social security or guarantees any kind of rights.

Since assuming office in what marked the first democratic transition of power from one political party to another in 2015, Buhari has made some effort to raise living standards.

His government created a Household-Uplifting Program that hands destitute people 5,000 nairas (US$14) a month.

At the same time, he’s been criticised for an exchange-rate policy that reduced the value of Nigeria’s currency and drove food prices up nationwide.

“Buhari came in with good intentions, but his initial economic policies worsened the problems he found on the ground,” said Nigerian economist Zuhumnan Dapel.

That, and the relatively small number of people – less than 1 million – that benefits from the program, means that relief is still a long way off for most.

Alkassim Ibrahim, a 45-year-old homeless man in the northern city of Kano, isn’t covered in the program.

He worked as a motorcycle-taxi driver until he had his leg amputated after a road accident 10 years ago and today his only possessions are his crutches, a thin blanket and a bag of clothes he uses as a pillow.

Forced to leave school after the death of his father, Ibrahim turned to menial jobs when he was still a boy.

Now, he survives by begging.

“Due to my health challenge, being a cripple, I don’t have any means of earning a living but to depend on members of the public,” Ibrahim said as he sat on the tiled floor of a shop where he is sometimes allowed to sleep.

“I can’t tell how many times I pass the night without eating food. I want to see me get married, settle in my own house with my children playing with me, but only God can offer that to me.”

Between 72 and 91% of Nigeria’s poor are at risk of never improving their living standards significantly, according to Dapel.

That’s the situation Fatima Ali, 23, finds herself in.

She’s stuck in a partly demolished slum outside the Aboki Estate in Lagos, making US$1.40 a day selling roasted peanuts in front of the corrugated-iron shack she calls home.

In the evening, she spends a fifth of her income on a jerrycan of fresh water to bathe her two young children.

Breakfast consists of bread and tea; she rarely eats more than twice a day.

“I feel bad because some countries, even if they don’t have money, they use it to help their poor people,” Ali said as her baby girl played on her lap.

“Here, they don’t join their heads together to help poor people. That’s Nigerian life.”

Source: FMT News

Malaysia: Review of the National Housing Policy

After months of speculation, the National Housing Policy 2.0 or Dasar Perumahan Negara (DRN) 2018 – 2025 was launched by Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) on Monday, 28 January 2019.

The policy was the result of wide public and private sector engagement to address various issues surrounding the housing market. Initiatives announced as part of this policy include:

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1. National Home Ownership Campaign

Under this campaign, the government is teaming up with developers and lenders to market about 30,115 completed houses at a discounted price in the upcoming property fair – Malaysia Property Expo (MAPEX 2019). Happening on 1 – 3rd March 2019 in KL Convention Centre, the campaign will see the participation of around 180 home builders and banks, which will help home buyers secure financing.

Part of the government’s effort to improve the living condition of low-cost housing residents within the PPR’s and other public housing schemes.

3. National Affordable Housing Council

In line with the PH Government’s manifesto, the council, chaired by Prime Minister  Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, will be in charge of monitoring affordable housing construction in the country, coordinating a database and to implement a self-renting scheme for the low and mid-income groups.

4.National Affordable Housing Policy (DPMM)

Clearer guidelines to be announced however among the focus areas include fixing property prices to between RM90,000 and RM300,000 depending on the location and average income of the local community as well as a minimum house size of 900 sq.ft. for properties within this price bracket.

5. Widening of the Rent-to-Own (RTO) Scheme

The RTO scheme is designed as an alternative form of home financing where home buyers can rent the property from the government for 5 years before obtaining end-financing in the 6th year to purchase the property outright.

These policies should be lauded for its focus on home ownership particularly for the B40 and a solution to the growing number of unsold units in the market or overhang. However, the policy as announced appears to focus squarely on addressing short-term demand related issues.

Notably absent is a plan to mitigate the factors that led to the current state of the market (ie. inflation, oversupply etc.).

The PH government in its manifesto had identified addressing landbanking or hoarding of prime development land by developers as well as the implementation of new building technology to reduce the cost of development. Initiatives crucial towards a healthy sustainable property market.

Coupled with revisions to RPGT and Stamp Duty including selected exemptions, the PH government appears to be taking short-term populist measures to managing what is a very complex and fragmented housing market.

Source: FMT News

Construction mishap leaves thousands of homes without power, phone service in Germany

Tens of thousands of Berlin residents expressed optimism on the restoration of power supply on Wednesday after a mishap at a construction site which plunged households and businesses into darkness.

City officials said a worker on a bridge renovation project accidentally severed a critical power connection around 2 pm (1300 GMT) on Tuesday, cutting off energy to the city’s eastern Koepenick district.

The outage affected more than 30,000 households and 2,000 businesses.

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Schools and day care centres in the affected area were expected to stay closed on Wednesday while workers laboured to fix the situation.

“This is a demanding job that is simply going to take a little time. That’s why this blackout is taking significantly longer than previous power outages,’’ said a representative for power company Vatenfall.

ceo

Workers were hoping to have the electricity back on or around 3pm on Wednesday.

Many of the affected buildings rely on electricity for their heat, meaning residents had to tough out a cold night, despite relatively mild daytime February temperatures this week.

Vattenfall said heat could only be restored to the 5,000 affected residences once the power is back on.

There is also a hospital in the affected region.

Emergency crews set up an additional power supply to help the hospital get through the night, while some patients in need of extra care were transferred to other facilities.

Police have been out on affected streets in extra numbers to help ensure order.

Many traffic lights were not working, and tram lines were unable to run without power.

Adding to the problems, neither landline nor mobile phones were working in the region.

Source: Punchng

Rwanda secures US $80m to construct vocational schools

The government of Rwanda has secured a whopping US $80m from the Indian Export and Import Bank (EXIM bank) to construct 10 specialized Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) schools across the country.

Jonah Kwikiriza, the Acting Coordinator of the Single Project Implementation Unit at Workforce Development Authority (WDA) confirmed the reports and said they are finalizing the plans with the government to break ground for the construction.

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According to the Acting Coordinator, the development is part of an effort to have at least 60% of students who complete ordinary level of high school join vocational education. The target had previously been set for 2018, but it was later revised to 2024 due to lack of enough infrastructure and teaching staff among other constraints.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) schools

He further affirmed that WDA, have already mapped out where the facilities will be built  based on different criteria among which included access to water sources, electricity, road infrastructure.

The development project which will be built 10 districts will o involves construction of four new incubation centres. WDA  have organised three different trades (combinations) per school whereby each trade will have two different streams, and every stream will accommodate a minimum 30 students, meaning at least 180 students per school with standard practical workshops.

“Districts have different market demands and raw materials, so it was a better way to come up with an initiative which has an impact on society using hands-on skills. Under this project, we shall let the teachers, together with all officials concerned, shortlist the disciplines to be particularly taught in their areas and we will compare with the priority centres and decide,” said Kwikiriza.

Currently, there are 5,200 teachers in vocational schools across the country and 2,026 have completed specialized training in different disciplines.

Source: Construction review online

Kenya’s affordable housing plan receives US $26bn investment pledges

The government of Kenya has announced to have received US $26bn investment pledges towards the country’s low-cost housing plan. This is according to Charles Hinga, the Housing Principal Secretary.

Affording housing plan which is among President Uhuru Kenyatta’s big 4 agenda others including manufacturing, food security and universal health care had earlier on plunged in the rocks when high court dismissed the 1.5% monthly tax levy that was imposed on workers meant to finance the housing plan.

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Tax levy

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) has last year filed a case against the government’s proposal on the tax levy and was to commence on January 2019. However Mr Hinga said that they had reached an agreement with Cotu to drop the case and settle it outside the court.

“We had a court issues with Cotu but they have since agreed to drop the case and we will settle it outside the court, we expect the official filling either on 23 or 24 this month” said the Housing Principal Secretary.

Kenya’s dousing deficit

The State department for housing and urban development has tabled regulations in parliament needed to operationalize the tax levy. Upon approval by members, Kenyan’s will start paying the tax to finance the housing projects.

“We have already defended the regulations before the Delegated Committee and now waiting for parliament to approve them. Development framework has also been approved by the cabinet,” added Mr Hinga.

According to World Bank Kenya has a deficit of 2 million housing units with 70% living in urban centre slums. In addition the country needs to build at least 250,000 units each year against the 50,000 units which are built each year in order to reduce the deficit in the next 5 years.

Source: Construction review online

Ekiti housing project ready for delivery by April

The South West Zonal Director of the Federal Government National Housing Project, Mr Olasunkanmi Dunmoye, has promised that willing residents of Ekiti State will get the houses built by the federal government for them by April this year,

Dunmoye stated this in Ado Ekiti yesterday during an inspection of the project, situated in the Agric Olope area of the state capital.

He said the housing project would cover 70 flats for the first phase, made up of one- bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom flats, as well as semi-detached bungalows.

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He said the project was designed by the federal government in 2016 as part of ways to ameliorate the sufferings of poor Nigerians, especially in the area of affordable shelter.

According to him, more than half of the houses had been completed  while the remaining were in various stages of completion.

In the same vein, the road network project within the environment, as well as electrification and water provision, had equally reached between 40 and 70 per cent completion stage.

He explained that the housing project in Ekiti State could not be completed early, compared to some states, because the land originally allocated for that purpose by the Ekiti State government under the administration of former Governor Ayo Fayose was considered too far from the city centre.

“It was after then that we reached an agreement with the former government, which gave us an alternative land at the centre of the state capital where we are presently, but with a condition that we must rehabilitate the Agric Olope access road, which we have now done,” he said.

Dunmoye said a total of 15 contractors were engaged on site to prosecute the housing project, and no fewer than 1,750 persons were currently employed either directly or indirectly on site.

 

On complaints by some of the contractors that they had not been fully mobilized for jobs already done, the Zonal Director said the list of contractors affected would soon be compiled and sent to Abuja for clearance.

But he frowned at the attitude of some selected contractors for the housing project, who he said had refused to make appearances for the jobs ceded to them. He threatened that government would substitute them soon if they failed to turn over a new leaf.

The state Controller of Housing in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Otegbade Oladiran and a Director with the ministry, Mrs Janet Ogunleye, who conducted the Zonal Director round the project site, gave assurances that all the components would be executed to specification.

Stabilised Earth Bricks should be used for building construction to ensure durability- Professor

A Professor of Architecture,  Adedeji Daramola, has suggested the use of locally-made Stabilised Earth Bricks (SED) by  the  building construction  to ensure durability of structures in the society.
Daramola, also the Rector of  Redeemers’ College of Technology and Management (RECTEM) in Mowe, Ogun, described the stabilised earth bricks as a mixture of laterite or natural soil with some  little quantity of  cement to  make them stronger than the usual blocks.
“Building is  a capital intensive project; but the fact is that we can still achieve durable buildings by using local materials.
“We have a lot of local bricks,  now called stabilised earth bricks, which look stronger after production,” he said.
Daramola said that buildings built with  stabilised earth bricks had immense advantages for their  inhabitants.
He said that they were capable of absorbing  the atmospheric moisture, and creating  a healthy environment for their  occupants.
According to him, such bricks serve as bullet proofs for the buildings they were used to construct.
kitchen
He said that when  earth bricks were used, different forms of reinforcements such as cement  blocks, concrete flooring, iron rods and others would no longer be required.
“The mode of production of solid earth  bricks is simple; one does not have to wait till the bricks are dried before using them for construction.
“You can put up your buildings without any form of reinforcement when builders use  the stabilised earth bricks; these bricks are bullet proof,” Daramola said.
The don, who had been promoting  the newly discovered building materials in various  publications said that using the bricks was cost effective unlike the common method of building.
“This involves less carbon emission and embodied energy in the production phase; also, no direct environmental pollution during the whole life cycle.
“These bricks can be used for any form of building; it is tested and trusted,” the professor said.
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