Saka Homes: A Leading Residential and Commercial Property Company in Ghana

Ebenezer Saka Addo-Mensah shares his assessment of the real estate sector in Ghana and presents Saka Homes, a leading residential and commercial property company in Ghana working across local, national and international markets. He also mentions current projects and shares his vision for the future of the company.

Interview with Ebenezer Saka Addo-Mensah, CEO and Founder of Saka Homes

Ebenezer Saka Addo-Mensah, CEO and Founder of Saka Homes

What is your assessment of the real estate sector in Ghana? What are the latest trends? How has the sector evolved?

The demand for the type of homes I am developing is increasing. Most people now want to live in a community of a sort. Communal living has become more appealing to people. Initially, we were building our own houses anywhere we could get a plot. But, I realized that the community feel brings a sense of security and most people are gearing towards that. Generally, there is a growth for real estate businesses, but the challenge now is an affordability issue. So, we are trying to produce houses to meet the budget and the price ability of those who are looking to buy these houses. That is where the business finds itself at the moment.

Are there many competitors in the market and new entrants?

Currently we are looking to expand and expansion requires funding. We are looking for a partner who can come in with equity or who will give us debt so that we can build more than we are building now.

Generally, the number of entrants is increasing. There is a lot of competition. In Ghana, when people with money find out there is gold in a sector, everybody jumps in. So, we have a lot of people going into real estate and building now. But, to be fair, the market is big enough for all of us to share. The deficit on houses is quite high. If competition can drive prices down and help people buy houses, why not? But, generally, the caliber of building and the finishing separates the men from the boys. People who have money and are looking for good products to buy know where to go. So, though we have many, there are some that are thriving and selling very well.

What are your current projects?

Mainly, I build for middle income families. I specialize in three-bedroom houses. I build for a price range between $65,000 to $195,000. I build in very nice neighborhoods that are already developed. I look for land in such a location, buy the land, and develop it. Instead of outskirt areas, I look at places like East Legon, West Legon, North Legon. These are areas that already have infrastructure, that have been developed. I find a couple of plots there and put up a community. In the past, I was doing a lot of work outside of the main city, such as in Oyarifa. I would find pieces of land and put three or four houses on it. But lately, I have gotten into small communities and that is my focus now. I do anywhere between 8 and 22 houses gated, mainly three-bedroom houses, and a few of them have maid’s rooms. They sell quite well.

Is the land acquisition difficult?

For the new market I have targeted, land is not really an issue because most of the land that is left is secured land. This area is quite well-developed. There may be somebody’s land that has a property already on it. I tear the property down and I put more houses on it. We have people who might build a three-bedroom house on an acre and then I go in and I buy that property for the acre of land, not the property itself. Recently, I have also been going into joint ventures with land owners which has reduced my land stress. These are lands that are properly titled, properly walled, and even have a property already on them. So, I just go in and tear down what is there and put more houses up.

How many projects do you work on at the same time?

On an average year, for example, 2018, we are currently working on 4 projects at the same time in Dome, East Legon Hills, Oyarifa, and West Legon. The smallest of these has 8 houses, the biggest has 17 houses. We are only doing about 40 houses at the moment.

Who are your clients? Are they local, from outside, the diaspora, middle income?

We have a mix. We are selling primarily to people between the ages of 30 and 45 now. Most of them are local in Ghana. We have a few who live in England and America who buy from us, but they mainly buy for investments. When they buy, we manage the property for them, get them clients. Some are using them for Airbnb. Most of the people we sell to in Ghana live in the houses themselves. It is mainly the properties in Oyarifa that people buy for investments. These are people who have risen in banking, insurance, oil and gas, and they have some extra money and want to buy a property. So, they buy these houses and we let them out for them.

What are the range of services you provide?

We do not just build and sell. We take an interest in the community, we manage the community. Because we are encouraging investment, we take an interest in getting the clients to feel that these houses that they have bought are being well managed. The value of the property stays high and appreciates hopefully and you get new clients to live in them. We take care of them. So, for instance, if you are in America and you want to buy a property in Ghana, you come to us and we sell to you. That is not the end of the relationship. If you need us to send your money to America, we have arrangements to get the money to you and all you need to do is pay our management fees and the community fees and that is all, your property is safe. Every now and then, we go into these properties to check on them and find out how they are doing and we send you a report.

What are you looking for and what are your main challenges?

Currently we are looking to expand and expansion requires funding. We are looking for a partner who can come in with equity or who will give us debt so that we can build more than we are building now. For what we build and the rate at which we sell, it is amazing when we speak to our competitors and others in the business. What we are doing now is in house funding. Whatever we build we reinvest. Even though we have viable projects, they are just waiting for us to be able to collect the money from what we are doing now to start those. It is not the best process. I have a prime project in East Airport where I am going to build 24 houses. Within 6 months of proper marketing, all 24 will be sold. I have a development in East Legon where we are going to do 12 houses gated. But now, because I do not have the money, I have to wait to mop up cash from East Legon Hills, Oyarifa, and Dome before I can start. That is where we are hoping in the next few months we will be able to raise money or find a partner to do this.

What are the fundamentals of being good at this business?

One thing that I want to avoid in my lifetime and in my career is selling to someone who is not happy with their house. I want to sell you a house that ten years later, when I see you, I will walk up to you and we will have a decent conversation and you will be happy with me and I will be happy with you. So far, for all the houses that I have done, I am still very close to the people I sold them to. I go into the communities that I built, I do not shy away, I do not hide from them. When they have issues that we are responsible for, we take care of them. I have come to realize that that is key to the business because we do not do a lot of marketing or ads, but we are able to sell. We sell because of the references these people who have had experience with us put out there. They sell the houses for us. They are the key to our progress. For us, the key is that we build very well. That is it. Build right, build very durable houses that will stand the test of time.

What is your vision for the company medium term? What would you like to have achieved in two to three years’ time?

In two to three years’ time, we would like to have developed about 200 homes that we have earmarked in East Airport, East Legon Hills, North Legon, and West Legon. We hope that we will be able to finish these projects simultaneously and move on to build in other areas.

Will this be through investors or something similar?

If we can find some investors, yes.


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