Many completed estates in Abuja remain half or totally unoccupied despite improvements in the real estate sector and Nigeria’s economy in general.
A week-long random survey of some districts in the city centre and on the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, shows that as more estates are being built, some of the ones that have been completed are either yet to be occupied many years after their completion or are mostly half-empty.
Some of the districts surveyed are Jabi, Utako, Wuye, Gwarimpa, Kado and Karfe. On the outskirts of the city, Pyakasa, Sabon-Lugbe, Chika and Airport Road are homes to dozens of ongoing and completed estates.
Inquiries made from agents, security personnel and the developers show that most of the estates in the central parts of the city were constructed and operated by private property developers, whereas ownership of those on the outer edges of Abuja are a mix of government agencies and private developers.
While units in some of these estates are being developed for outright sale, there are apartments available for rent. Findings also show that some of the estates located within the centre of the city that are half-empty comprise units of between two to five detached and semi-detached duplexes, as well as terraced duplexes with Boys’ Quarters (BQ) and pent houses in some cases, while those on the outskirts are mostly bungalows of between two to four bedrooms.
At Jabi in Daki-Biu, the estates visited are Grandview Estate and Lakeview Homes, and Al-Gamji Garden Esate Phase II, Sady Lane Apartments and Istram in Wuye District were visited. Mikasa Residences at KM 10 on Airport Road, Gold City Estate 2 and Penthouse Estate located at Pyakasa were also visited. BUA Estate, Kado, and ALD Estate at Gwarimpa were also surveyed. Dozens of estates located within the sampled districts which names could not be ascertained were also visited.
Our reporter observed that most of the houses in these estates are exquisitely planned, beautifully constructed and are spacious. Some of them are designed with modern taste. They have Plaster of Paris (POP) ceilings, interlocked compounds, choice fittings, as well as modern facilities. They also have ample parking spaces, amazing road networks and guaranteed security.
However, these elegant and classy houses lined with lush green lanes, fancy gardens and sophisticated finishing remain either half or completely empty. The cost of a home in some of the estates; depending on the type, starts from N50m and some go for as high as N1bn. Therefore, to rent an apartment in these estates, depending on the type and specification, prospective tenants pay from N1.5m to as much as N6m per annum. Some of the estates on the outskirts also boast of same aesthetic and architectural masterpieces as the ones in the city centre, but their major challenges are access road and erratic power supply.
Our reporter visited Mikasa Residences at KM 10 along Airport Road and saw a large signboard announcing the African University of Science and Technology as its owner. Seven blocks of completed duplexes were counted and basic residential facilities like street lights and access roads have been completed. However, the estate looked deserted, thick grasses compete with the fence and have begun to sprout on the interlocks, while reptiles like lizards roam freely within the compound.
Our reporter spent about 30 minutes at the gate of the estate but did not see any security guard. A notice with a phone number that read: “Please call security”, was displayed on the gate, but when the number was called the owner did not pick. After a visit to the BUA estate located at Kado on the expressway close to Next Cash-n-Carry, our reporter gathered that the estate which consists of five-bedroom duplexes with BQs is almost empty as only a few houses have been occupied.
Rent in the estate goes for N6m per annum, but our reporter gathered that presently, the management of the estate is not renting out any longer as the houses are only for sale; with each going for about N180m. At another estate in the Karfe District, after Gwarimpa, it was observed that most of the houses are empty, and according to a security man on ground who gave his name as Abdullahi, there are houses for rent which go for N5m for a 4-bedroom duplex and 2 BQs, while cost of sale is N170m.
At ALD Estate in Gwarinpa II, houses are available for rent and sale from displays on signboards. A duplex goes for N5m, while a 3-bedroom bungalow goes for N3million per annum for rent.
The amount they place on the property for outright sale ranges from N170 to N200m. Estate developers and housing experts in the country agree that the high number of unoccupied estates is a bad development and a cause for concern. Speaking on reasons some estates in Abuja are empty, the President of Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN), Festus Adebayo, in a telephone interview with Daily Trust, said most of the houses are not within the affordability of those that need them. Adebayo said, “Some of those houses are for money laundering.
The owners have only put the prices that will prevent buyers from coming. Therefore, government must come up with heavy taxes on empty houses. The Department of Development Control must also be involved. At the point of giving building approval, there must be documents to sign for developers on the number of days that a building can remain unoccupied. We can’t be talking of housing deficit when a good number of houses are vacant. EFCC must be involved as well.”