Aileen Conteh, is a Georgia-based Real Estate Agent with an Investment Banking background. Prior to entering the Real Estate Market, Aileen enjoyed a 20-year successful career as an Investment Portfolio Manager in both New England and Ghana. Originally from Ghana, Aileen has lived in the United States for over 25 years; and is currently a resident of Atlanta, Georgia. She holds a BS degree in Business Administration from Eastern Nazarene College. Aileen is fluent in many Ghanaian languages. An avid Golfer and Past Lady Captain, she enjoys travelling and exploring golf courses in her spare time. An advocate for social causes, Aileen is a strong supporter of non-profit organizations including Habitat for Humanity and a member of the Ghanaian Women’s Association of Georgia, Women Mentoring Women, and Rotary.
In an interview with Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable Aileen speaks about her journey in Real Estate business and other issues.
How did you begin the journey to property business?
My journey began as far back as 1999, when I invested in my first income property. The returns that I had gained in such a short time piqued my interest in the real estate market. Since then, I have continuously dabbled in the real estate market in one form or another – from, developing and managing properties, to dealing with the sales and marketing. However, my formal introduction into the industry came much later when I became a Real Estate Agent. Although I am professionally trained in Investment Banking, Real Estate has allowed me to transfer my knowledge in investment banking seamlessly. But most importantly it afforded me the flexibility of time to run my own business alongside.
Would you say that the journey has been smooth?
Smooth would be a misnomer to say the least; however, the journey is only as smooth as you make it. Like branching into any new field there are the initial challenges that one faces; such as, economic downturns; yet, I have been very lucky thus far. My passion for Real Estate has allowed me to truly push through the downturns and enjoy the journey—I wouldn’t change a thing about the journey so far.
How best can African countries address their housing deficits?
The primary reason for the housing deficit in many African countries can be attributed to financing. For many Middle and Lower-class families the availability of capital and access to loans, mainly due to credit-worthiness is a huge stumbling block in their ability to build or purchase their own properties.
I believe that it is imperative that African countries develop new financial products with realistic and affordable interest rates. Until they are able to do so, there will always be a deficit. My company is concerned about this challenge – so, it is our mission to bridge the gap by securing financing from the US for African families back home. These loans come at slightly higher interest rates but are still a lot lower than what they would find in Africa. International Business Concierge offers boutique style services in the real-estate space, our main focus is making dreams real. Most of our business is through referrals and repeats.
Is there hope for the future of property business in Africa?
Yes, the possibilities are endless being the final frontier, we have barely scratched the surface of the property market in Africa. Currently, South Africa and Nigeria are leading the way; but, I don’t think it will be long before other countries start to catch up with them. One of the main challenges facing a lot of African countries aside from financing is the problem of irregular documentation. Often, countries are unable to keep up-to-date databases of properties and their ownership; neither do they have a formal system for registering collateral. I believe that when all these anomalies are corrected, the space will open up to attract a lot more investors.
Will you advise more Africans to embrace property business?
Yes, I absolutely would advise Africans to invest in properties or engage in real estate activities. Much like food and clothing, there will always be a need for shelter. I would urge more Africans to take on properties or get into the market because it can only get better.
Real Estate Consultant
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