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The Unfulfilled Promise of Digital Real Estate Services in Lagos

I recently went house-hunting in Lagos. Thinking it would be easier than outsourcing the task to an estate agent, I checked a real estate website to find a house. After finding an apartment within my budget, I called the agent who’d posted the house online. He informed me that the house was available and asked for a N3,000 “registration fee” for a meetup.

Straightforward, right? Little did I know what awaited me.

“This is not the house you posted online,” I told the agent after he took me to an old bungalow in a location different from what he posted online.

“Ah, that house is no longer available,” he said. “I also have ‘three ‘clean ones’ that are still on ground.”

Frustrated, I left without seeing anything close to what was posted online.

Then I realised: finding a house in Lagos is no easy business.

Before the digital era, finding a house required a lot of work and walk. You had to go around town checking every “to-let” sign you could find and pray not to fall into the hands of fraudsters. Or you would just outsource the whole operation to a real estate agent who would handle all of that for you at a steep price. These factors made it difficult for people to find their dream house in Lagos.

However, with the growth of the internet in Nigeria, services like Jiji, OLX (which was later acquired by Jiji), PropertyPro and other platforms emerged. These are free platforms that allow people to post classifieds, including real estate, online. PropertyPro promised a “stressless approach to getting your dream home.”

My experience on these platforms was far from this promise.

Finding a house in Lagos remains as gruelling as ever and digital platforms aren’t doing enough to help. Lax on control measures, it is too easy for agents to force people back to the offline reality of house hunting.

Why is it hard to find a house online in Lagos?

For many people, checking online is the first step when house-hunting. They can preview what houses look like without having to do the leg work. But they can’t go beyond this because many online real estate platforms are simply “a medium for the advertisement” of houses, they don’t facilitate transactions or work directly with landlords or agent associations to do so.

This makes it easy for agents to abuse these platforms and force users back to the offline realities they were trying to avoid in the first place.

Found a house online? Is it really available?

One way agents misuse online platforms is fake listings.

On platforms like PropertyPro and Jiji, one typically finds duplicate posts for the same house, sometimes from the same user. In real life, agents often take multiple clients to the same house and favouring the first to pay.

However, the difference between this offline reality and what you would find in the digital world is that most times such duplicate adverts are fake. The advertised property, many times, was never on the market or would have been rented many months before the advert was created.

“[The] first agent I got off a platform didn’t confirm if the house was still available,” said Ada, who used an online platform to search for a house.

“I got to the address with the agent and we were told that all apartments had been taken.”

“I paid for [both our] transport fares to and from the address, and I didn’t get to see the apartment,” she told me.

This is a situation that many house hunters encounter often.

But why do agents do it?

Typically, agents use the picture of good looking houses to attract prospective tenants to their listings. But in reality, many of these agents want to find tenants for houses that are either located in “unsavoury” places or are in pretty bad shape.

Others want to find clients for houses that are really just uncompleted buildings; they want clients to pay so the houses can be completed. They can’t draw clients in if they post the actual pictures of the property.

However, there is another reason why agents post fake adverts.

“Pay before you can see the house”

By tricking clients with fake images of a property, real estate agents can make quick money off them. They ask people to pay a “registration” fee before they can be shown the “real” property. It usually costs between N2,000 and N7,000, and agents request the fee every time a new client comes on board.

To be clear, registering with an agent is standard practice offline. It creates a sort of contract that commits an agent to help clients find a house.

“This ‘registration’ fee has always been in existence right from time even before Jiji began operation,” Jiji told TechCabal in an email. “It has been the culture and process in Nigeria.”

“Agents always inform these clients before they come for inspection about the registration or inspection fee. It is not a new phenomenon.”

“Once you register, you are entitled to get something from that agent,” said one real estate agent.

But here’s the problem with this: I already found a house online, why do you still want me to pay for “registration”?

Digital real estate platforms help people to find houses, not agents. But somehow agents have flipped this. They have since gamed the system, using these platforms to catfish clients with fake adverts. Once the registration fee is paid, agents unload their gimmicks, they ask clients to pay “viewing fees” and take them to a house different from what was posted online.

“A lot them [agents] constantly lied about their properties just so you would pay N2,000 to do a look,” said Emeka, who experienced it firsthand.

Emeka told me he used online platforms like Nigeria Property Center and PropertyPro and explained that the registration fee is different from the viewing fee.

“I think the agents there assumed because we can afford internet subscription, we’re automatically uber-rich,” he said. He added that “almost all the agents I met online, the pictures they posted never matched the apartment advertised.”

These antics make it difficult for people to use digital platforms to find a house in Lagos. In the end, people are forced to use the stressful offline model that leaves them vulnerable to the same complexities the real estate market has faced for years: fraud and a longer period to find a house.

But what are digital platforms doing about this?

We contacted PropertyPro repeatedly for comments but they did not respond.

In an email to TechCabal, Jiji said it did not “subscribe” to the existence of fake adverts on its platform. They also said that agents on Jiji “use old houses as a means of collecting money from unsuspecting clients.”

However, they admitted that inspection fees are charged by some agents and registration fees are required by “big agents”.

“It’s not a new phenomenon”, Yuliy Shenfeld, Jiji’s Country Manager wrote. “[But] If any agent should ask a client to transfer money for inspection to him or her without seeing the client, then that is definitely a scam and is treated as such,” he added.

Yet, there are still other concerns.

What are digital platforms doing to protect users?

Although it is understandable that many of the digital real estate platforms do not facilitate any user-to-agent transactions on their platform, the way they operate today leaves users vulnerable.

PropertyPro describes itself as a “medium for advertisement” and says it “shall not in any way be responsible for the individual actions of agents during relations with users, both off and on the [platform]”.

Meanwhile, adverts rarely expire on these digital platforms. According to Jiji’s FAQs, ads will stay for between three months and six months before they are automatically removed, but every time the advert is updated, that expiry date is reset. PropertyPro does something similar. For instance, this advert was originally posted in March 2018 but remains “valid” after more than one year simply because it was updated in October 2019.

As a result, older listings continue to float on both platforms making it hard to see new stuff.

Digital platforms also appear to be prioritizing paid adverts over regular ones. For instance, Jiji’s real estate listing is largely dominated by “boosted ads”, “top ad” and “VIP ads”, all of which are paid ads. PropertyPro also uses “featured ads” to boost listings.  For its most basic paid adverts, Jiji promises “5X” more exposure than regular adverts. As for-profit businesses, it is not odd that these platforms do this — this is the revenue model of the classifieds business.

Yet, with regular ads hidden far below, agents are competing for eyeballs. Agents have to pay to boost their ads to get more clients. Boosting ads leads to additional cost, leading agents to resort to “registration fees” and “pay to view” fees.

One agent, Obinna Prince, told me he pays around N40,000 per month to boost 7 adverts.

With all these antics, there’s less trust in digital platforms for house hunting in Lagos.

When asked what approach is better for house hunting, Emeka said “offline, though more stressful, proved more effective.” While Ada told me that although she is still using the online option, the agent she is currently working with was referred to her offline by a friend. “He didn’t collect a dime from me,” she told TechCabal.

Housing Development

Room for innovation

This means there’s still room for innovation to help people find houses online.

A few startups have emerged over the years to address this. Notable among them are Muster and Fibre. Both of these platforms allow users to find apartments and pay their rent online. Unlike classifieds, the newer platforms have strict measures, have no paid ads and they cut out the agents by working directly with landlords. They seem relatively safer and utilitarian.

But many of their houses are located in expensive neighbourhoods like Lekki and Oniru. On Muster, it’s no surprise that many of their houses require rents of over N100,000 monthly – cost considerations like this is why many in Lagos prefer platforms like Jiji and PropertyPro for house hunting.

“We are not where we want to be yet,” said Muster’s Ibraheem Babalola, “there are factors that are not completely in Muster’s control including market dynamics.”

So while these innovations are cool, their reach is somewhat limited. Until their listings are more widely available, the promise of finding houses on digital platforms is not as easy as first advertised.

Source: techcabal

Wren Regent Showcases Real Estate to Nigerians in Canada

Wren Regent Properties Limited in partnership with the Nigerian Canadian Association, Ottawa, has showcased the opportunity and growth in Nigeria’s real estate sector the country’s citizens in diaspora

In a Business Consultation Breakfast which held recently in Canada, more attention was directed at educating Nigerians in the country about the dynamic real estate sector in Nigeria and more especially Lagos state.

Giving a keynote speech at the event titled: Wealth Creation through Real Estate Investment in Nigerian and Canada, the Chief Operating Officer of Wren Regent Properties Limited, Amara Musa made a detailed presentation on the opportunities available for diaspora members, and investors who had a keen interest in wealth creation and sustainability in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre.
In her presentation, Musa addressed the real estate issues faced by diaspora members. “Lack of reliable representation in Nigeria is the most popular reason behind the lack of confidence for international investors,” she said.

The COO also highlighted the solutions Wren Regent Properties Limited is trying to provide.

According to the Lagos-based real estate firm, some of the solutions it is bringing to the property market include a consistent reporting system, a dedicated representative per transaction, and a transparent management system to boost investor confidence in the sector.
 A further focus of the event was placed on developments within Lagos that provided the most value for international investors and in effect provided avenues for wealth creation and high returns on investment.
 Valerie Akujobi, Founder of VTA Law Professional Corporation and Toyin Adewoye, a Real Estate Professional of Coldwell Banker Sarazen Realty also graced the gathering and during their address, they shared valuable insight on the existing opportunities and legal requirements within Ottawa’s vibrant real estate market.
   The Business Consultation Breakfast was highly successful and ‘broke the ice’ for diaspora members within Canada looking to multiply their income by investing in Nigeria’s real estate industry. It also assured that using a credible real estate firm such as Wren Regent Properties Limited would ensure a secure, safe and rewarding investment experience, the real estate company revealed.
Source: businessdayng

Lekki Residents, Stakeholders Fault AMCON on Victory Park Estate

Residents and stakeholders in Lekki estates have faulted the action of Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) regarding the handling of the receivership case involving Victory Park Estate on the Lekki Peninsula, Lagos.

The residents, under the aegis of Lekki Estates Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA) which embodies all estates, communities and facilities from 1004 Estate up to Epe, contended that AMCOM could not be judge and prosecutor in its own case, more so as it violates court orders at will.

LERSA’s position was contained in a statement issued by the association and made available to BusinessDay in Lagos last week. It was signed by James Emadoye, the president of LERSA.

Emadoye, who led a delegation of LERSA members to Victory Park Estate on a fact finding mission, wondered why AMCON, a creation of government, would not obey court ruling and decided to move to the estate to harass innocent citizens.

He recalled that the harassment started just few days after a Lagos State High Court presided over by Honourable Justice Jos declared unconstitutional the provisions of Section 34(6) of the AMCON Amendment Act No. 2.

Emadoye called for immediate intervention of Lagos State and federal governments, stating that the country’s developmental dreams would continue to be a mirage until “the big and mighty allow the laws of the land to take effect and all Nigerian citizens are subject to the laws of the land.”

“We wish to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, chairman of AMCON, Muiz Banire and the managing director of AMCON, Lawan Kuru to the plight of the people,” he said.

Continuing, he said, “we are Nigerian citizens and we surely deserve the protection of the government. We cannot allow anybody to undermine the law of the land; in the matters of Victory Park Estate and other similar matters, we deserve the protection of the constitution of the land; we deserve the protection of our elected custodian of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

LERSA also called on the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to immediately direct men of the Nigeria Police not to allow themselves to be used by AMCON and their Receiver Manager, Lanre Olaoluwa, to disturb the peace of the residents and property owners of Victory Park Estate.

Emadoye lamented the plight of residents and landlords at the estate who invested their hard-earned money into premium real estate and now risk losing the product of their sweat to what he called “some spurious claims” from AMCON.

Addressing the leadership of the Victory Park Estate Owners & Residents Association, he noted that injury to one was injury to all and promised that LERSA would not relent until the residents and owners of Victory Park Estate got justice.

Housing Deficit

The LERSA Vice President, O.P.A Ladega, also condemned the impunity being displayed by the Receiver Manager,  pleading with the state and federal governments to call AMCON to order and to desist from further harassment and persecution of the legitimate residents and owners of the Victory Park Estate.

The chairman of Victory Park Estate Residents Association, Godfrey Efeurhobo, thanked the visiting LERSA team and promised that they would remain law-abiding and steadfast in the defence of their legitimate properties. He expressed gratitude to fellow Lagosians and other Nigerians from far and near; for the immense show of support and encouragement.

Source: businessdayng

South Africa’s Tech-Based Property Register Holds Lessons for Nigeria

In real estate development, South Africa has always been ahead of Nigeria. For Nigeria’s less than 1 percent mortgage contribution to GDP, South Africa has about 30 percent. In South Africa, it takes lesser time and costs less to register property. It is also less cumbersome.

Nigeria lags behind South Africa in terms of home ownership. For South Africa’s 56 percent, Nigeria has 25 percent home ownership level for its 200 million population and acclaimed largest economy in Africa.

The country comes far behind Indonesia and Kenya where the levels are 84 percent and 75 percent, respectively.
Recently, South Africa outpaced Nigeria with the development of its first blockchain-based property register made possible by a partnership between Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF), research consultancy 71point4, and Seso Global.

A blockchain is an aspect of what is now popularly called PropTech, a short form of Property Technology which is a collective term used to define start-ups offering technologically innovative products or new business models for the real estate market.

The new development in South Africa will be the first working example of a blockchain-based property registry in the country. Aside from creating an immutable record of who owns which house, it will facilitate and record transactions such as sales and transfers out of deceased estates.

The blockchain solution comes with benefits.
Daniel Bloch, CEO of Seso Global, a blockchain property registry company, explained that the solution allows data to be stored in a decentralised, secure database that can be updated without any loss of historic data.

“This means there is a secure, back-to-back record of all transactions that is completely tamper-proof. Eventually the vision would be to integrate this record into the Deeds Registry when other impediments to transfer have been removed,” Bloch said.

This is a major lesson for Nigeria where getting data remains a big issue, making the property market in the country very opaque.

Abdulhakeem Sadiq, founder/CEO of Zama, a new PropTech company in Nigeria, said though PropTech is slowly gaining momentum in developed markets, it is yet to gain traction in Nigeria.

“And we feel a developing market like Nigeria can learn and re-calibrate itself for seasoned investors,” he said at a forum in Lagos.

Roland Igbinoba, president/founder, Pison Housing Company, agrees, stating that global investment in Prop-Tech has been significant.

“It surged from a mere $20 million in 2010 to $14 billion in 2018, and projected to hit $20 billion in 2019. The investments have been witnessed in virtual reality, real estate crowd-funding, big data & analytics, artificial intelligence, smart building technologies and portal listings among others,” he said.

Like Nigeria, South Africa has land titling problem. But unlike Nigeria, the country is thinking and working on solving that problem, hence the new development with its many benefits.

Kecia Rust, CEO of CAHF, said the South African government has built over 3 million houses since democracy. But CAHF’s analysis of deeds office data indicates that only 1.9 million of these properties have been registered. In Nigeria, only 0.5 percent of properties are in formal mortgage.

South Africa’s National Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (NDHSWS) estimates that the title deed backlog for properties built prior to 2014 currently stands at 511 752. These properties were given to beneficiaries, but no title deeds were registered and handed over. At the same time, there is a backlog of 351,470 title deeds on newer properties.

Registering these properties so long after they were built and handed over to subsidy beneficiaries is an administratively complex task. In some cases, original subsidy beneficiaries are no longer living in the properties. Some beneficiaries might have passed on; some might have tenants in their properties while others have sold their houses informally.

Source: Businessdayng

Real Estate Woes: Important to Permit one-time Recast of Certain Loans, says HDFC chairman

Parekh argued that if these restructured accounts are considered as standard assets for a period of about 12 months, lenders will stop being so diffident.

HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh on Wednesday said the crisis of confidence in lending to the real estate sector can be overcome if lenders are allowed a one-time restructuring of certain real estate loans – particularly for stuck projects where building approvals have been delayed. Parekh was delivering a speech at the India Mortgage Leadership Conclave.

Parekh argued that if these restructured accounts are considered as standard assets for a period of about 12 months, lenders will stop being so diffident. “This is not a new suggestion. An exceptional regulatory treatment was permitted by the RBI in 2008, which helped revive sentiment. This in itself would enable last-mile funding even to assets that have slipped owing to tight funding conditions and ensure that these projects are completed,” he said.

Parekh accepted that such a step may lead to arguments about it being akin to kicking non-performing assets (NPA) down the road again. “But my stance is that real estate loans are different. The value of the land is always there. Delays in granting building approvals is not always in the hands of the developer and we still don’t have a single window mechanism for such approvals,” he said.

Parekh said there are developers who genuinely need last-mile funding. “Many are being denied their rightful funding in an environment that has become wary of lending to the sector. At a time like this, one can’t afford to end up in a situation where oxygen is cut-off for even the stronger developers. This could happen if the risk averseness prolongs, he said.

On his outlook about the sector, Parekh said a formalised rental market will reduce the skew as more vacant homes will get occupied. “Housing is going to get more niche. For instance, in the recent period, student housing is gaining traction. It is estimated that currently only one in five students enrolled in higher education is fortunate to get accommodation in an institutional set-up, leaving most students to seek alternatives like rental accommodation. Real estate investors are finding that student housing can offer good returns on investments,” he said.

Parekh is optimistic about real estate investment trusts (REITs) emerging as a preferred alternative investment avenue with estimates indicating that nearly $20-25 billion could be raised by commercial real estate developers over three-four years.

Parekh believes that the laws of financial markets are such that one player never gets stronger at the cost of another’s failure. “It is always a rising tide that lifts all boats. And one entity’s downfall always has contagion effects. We have gone through an unusually difficult phase, but this too will pass.”

Source: financialexpress

Real Estate Market in Romania: Sale Ads And New Residential Projects

International company Flatfy operates in the real estate market in 30 countries. In 2016 they entered the Romanian market, launching the website Flatfy.ro. One year later, the company entered on the Moldova market, and in 2018 they launched their second website in Romania, Korter.ro, which lists all new residential compounds in Romania. 

Real estate website Korter.ro is dedicated to new residential assemblies, and it is the place you can find the latest constructions and projects. Korter.ro also presents the stages of construction, price/sqm, apartment sketches, as well as details about construction materials and finishing works. According to Korter.ro, currently, in Romania there are available apartments in over 700 new residential assemblies developed by over 400 real estate developers. Most of the residential complexes are in use, but some of them are still under construction. On the website you will find the stage of construction works and you will even be able to see images from the site. Another very important feature is the price chart. With the help of this chart, you can analyse the price evolution in the last year and find the best moment to buy an apartment.

Bucharest leads the ranking of cities with the highest numbr of new residential compounds that still have homes for sale. In second place is Brasov with 53 compounds, and the third place is occupied by Constanta, with 45.

Real estate sale ads on Flatfy.ro

Flatfy.ro has the main purpose to support the people from around the world in the process of acquiring a new  apartment. We know that the decision of buying a new house is very important, that’s why you shouldn’t hurry and analyse all the offers available. Now, this whole process can be realised from your home. All you need is a computer or phone with internet access.

To make everything even easier, on Flatfy.ro you can find the richest database of real estate sale ads. On this real estate website are published ads from dozens of sources that are centralized on its own platform. Visitors of the website can search their long-awaited house through available ads, that can be filtered depending on your personal choices.

Every day on Flatfy, you can find over 50,000 real estate sale ads for apartments, houses or farmlands for rent or sale.

 

“Using AI and data science, we pull relevant listings from an array of sources, analyze, categorize and group them into efficient search results. As a result, we make home search handy. Our team makes sure every customer has access to relevant real estate content,” say representatives of Flatfy.ro.

Flatfy records over 10 million visitors yearly. The company operates in the real estate field in 30 countries: Moldova, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Chile.

Source: business-review.eu

EFCC Arraigns Real Estate Developer For Fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arraigned one Joseph Idakho and his company, Zamtrac Management & City Investment Limited, for property fraud.

Idakho was arraigned before Justice D.Z. Senchi of the FCT High Court in Abuja on Monday for alleged conspiracy, forgery and criminal breach of trust.

Detailing events that led to his arrest and arraignment, the EFCC in a post on Twitter said, “He allegedly defrauded one Hajiya Halima Babangida in a real estate development transaction that went awry.

“Babangida alleged in a petition to the EFCC that she entered into an agreement with the defendant’s company for development of six units of detached houses of five bedrooms each, including boys quarters, at Plot 2398 AO6, Cadastral Zone, Maitama District, Abuja.

“With her contribution being the land, while the defendant was to bear other costs of development.

“She claimed that they had agreed to share the property equally at the end of development but discovered to her chagrin that the defendant commenced sale of the property even before completion without her knowledge or approval.”

Source: saharareporters

‘Property Co-Ownership, Crowd-Funding Boosting Real Estate Investment’

The Managing Director, Drekford Global Concept Limited, Mr Daniel Oparinde, has said that property co-ownership and crowd-funding are boosting investment in the real estate sector in the country.

He noted that co-ownership of property had reduced the investment cost and enabled many young Nigerians to dabble in real estate business, which he described as viable, lucrative and more stable than the money market.

Oparinde told journalists in an interview in Abuja that his company was already providing a platform for co-ownership of properties for many Nigerians who could not otherwise afford the huge capital required in real estate investment.

He said his firm had democratised real estate investment by encouraging crowd-funding for property ownership, noting that Nigerians could now own property at a very low amount.

He stated, “We have tried to democratise real estate investment by making sure that people can come in with a small amount compared to the big amount that is expected in the times past and this comes by way of crowd-funding or co-ownership.

“For instance, in some of our projects like the Seasons’ Apartment, we have platforms for co-ownership. What that means is that you can co-own a property with other owners or other investors.”

Source: punchng

Lagos Commissioner of Housing Reveals Plans to Regularize State Real Estate Sector

The Lagos state Commissioner of Housing, Moruf Akinderu Fatai is emphatic about the efforts of the state to regularize its real estate sector, sanitize it and boost investors’ confidence.

He revealed this while speaking at the real estate stakeholders’ engagement forum organized by Lagos state estate agency regulatory authority on Wednesday in Lagos.

The event with the theme, ‘’Lagos Real Estate: Achieving 21st Century Compliance,’’ was an assembly of real estate stakeholders from across board to deliberate on how to reposition real estate practice in the state in a way that it can combat fraud and provide value.

According to Fatai, ‘’It’s a way of the government trying to meet the real estate stakeholders and look into this sector critically to resolve ongoing challenges. And one of those major challenges is people having one house and renting it to multiple people. On that, we already have court judgments against some of them.

‘’So what we want to do is to register everybody that is involved in real estate transaction, so that when you approach them, you have confidence that you are really dealing with the real people.

‘’Basically, we are trying to regularize the system in such a way that everybody will have confidence and those who wants to get involved, especially in getting finances from lenders abroad, will be assured that Lagos state has a system in place that they could put in their money without any issue.’’

Speaking further, he said the event demonstrates that the government is willing to partner with the private sector to develop the real estate sector.

The participating stakeholders agreed on the need for automated transactions and reliable data in the sector that will be available to the public. They settled that combating fraud in the sector is indeed a collaborative agenda.

Officials Worry About Unoccupied Houses in Abuja

Real Estate experts have canvassed the need for government to put in place policy that would compel developers to rent out completed but unoccupied estates in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Unoccupied estates have become a trending issue mostly across the FCT in recent times with some of the buildings constituting social menace and hideout for criminalities in certain locations.The residential houses are located in, Apo, Kabusa, Garki, Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse, Gudu, Sunny Vale, Mpape, Bwari, Dei-Dei, Utako, Central District Area,Kubwa, airport road and Kure. Other areas include, Kuduru, Orozo, Karishi, Kubwa II, Lugbe, Mararaba, Zuba, Suleja in Niger State; Kado, Jahi and Guzape, behind Abacha Barracks in Kaduna road.

Investigation by The Guardian revealed that politicians, businessmen and women aswell as top civil servants own some of these unoccupied estates and structures while some developers on their part,  didn’t  do enough homework before investing in certain part of the city.In some of the projects, it was learnt that one and two bedroom apartments at Centenary Estate for example, goes for N100 million outright sales, while in some they are sold for N15 and N20 million. Civil servants who form majority of the occupants of Abuja can’t afford to buy such houses.

It was also gathered that since 1976 when the Federal Housing Authority, (FHA), was established and in the past nine years, the agency has no recorded low budgetary allocation, which hinders the development of more houses for the residents and Nigerians.Findings revealed that it has developed a little over 40,000 housing units in 77 estates nationwide, while four of those estates situated in Odukpani, North Bank in Benue State, Ogun and Kaduna states have not been occupied.

Experts told The Guardian that Nigeria might not meet up with the Sustainable Development Goals,(SDGs) in providing affordable houses for her citizenry if the situation persists amid the citizens’ huge demand for housing.The Deputy Director, Estate in Federal Capital Development Administration, Yemi Yemitan explained that housing deficit has come to stay, because of affordability of the available properties in the real estate market.

According to her, transform from the present experience, government’s policy on housing should be a social service, and not economic gain, or profit making.“Estates are littered in all nooks and crannies of Abuja, and its environs, not for low-income earners. Some developers don’t want people to know their assets. That is why they are unoccupied.”

An official of the urban and regional planning unit in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing said: “Factors that contribute to unoccupied estates, or houses in city centre, include court cases, high rental, non payment of collateral from banks. Others are, forfeited buildings and lack of infrastructure.”
Contributing, the Director, Public Building in the ministry,  Adinoh Uwodi said that housing deficit in the country affects mostly the  low income earners, adding that government gives out land to developers  only to build for high class of people in the society.

“They cannot get prime land to build for common citizens. No organisation can claim ownership of the data that Nigeria has 22 million housing deficit. We do not know to project into the future.High cost of accommodation causes low-income earners to seek alternatives in outskirts of Abuja. The government need to develop the economy of rural area, by establishing industries in those locations’’, he said.

Source: Guardianng

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