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Experts identifies areas of opportunities for investors in the real estate sector immediately after the general elections

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Despite the tension associated with the Nigeria’s general elections, no thanks to the slowdown in the economy, Naira swap crisis, scarcity of petrol, volatile forex,  high inflation and wait and see attitude of investors,  experts have predicted a rebound of the real estate sector before the end of the year.

While many said, the sector would recover in value gradually between six and nine months in the short term, others said it might take two years in the end.

Even though they recognized the fact that a few investors (local and foreign) have put on hold their developments/investments until the general election is over, some of the experts said the situation was not as gloomy as being painted.

The experts are of the opinion that the real estate sector is far more important to the Nigeria’s economy than what is being offered presently.

The market is likely expected to rebound by the second half of the year, majority of the experts said.

They listed student-housing, health care, multi living units, rental housing, micro houses, scalable housing projects, warehousing and logistics as areas of opportunities.

The experts, who spoke at the a conference organised by the Real Estate Committee of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) in Lagos, agreed there was a connection between the general economy and real estate.

The conference was themed: “Real Estate Outlook: Pitching Your Tents Post 2023 Elections.”

Guest Speaker and Managing Director, B.Adedipe Associates Limited, Dr. BiodunAdedipe, who spoke on; “Understanding the Nexus between the Economy and Real Estate Sector,” pointed out that a focused government would give proper attention to the property market, availing as many incentives as could be creatively emplaced for the entire real estate ecosystem.

The financial analyst is of the opinion that housing development is a driver of investments that stimulate an economy and serves as a major source wealth and job creations.

He noted that there was a correlation between the Nigerian GDP growth rates and real estate growth rates during the first quarter (Q1) 2016 to third quarter (Q3) 2022.0

He emphasised that real estate sector was one of the six major contributors to the Nigerian real GDP in the last 11 years.

“Despite all the challenges coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the housing market (house prices, commercial and residential rents) has remained relatively stable, with few marginal rises.”

According to him, the sector has some peculiarities that included being one of the six sectors that contribute the most to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

That is, along with agriculture, trade, ICT, manufacturing and mining & quarrying. They have jointly accounted for between 77 per cent and 82 per cent during 2012 to 2022,he mentioned.

However, the financial expert said, “Its growth has been trending downwards in the last decade. There is dearth of long-term funds, causing a mismatch between funding and the assets created.”

He enumerated real estate sector’s challenges to include high construction costs, liquidity from the perspective of the developer, declining consumer purchasing power (about 90 per cent of property acquisition is funded by individual savings), high mortgage rate, land registration process ‘Omoonile’ menace; weakening currency, poor infrastructure and multiple taxation.

Adedipe listedreal estate’s drivers as growing and rapid urban population, expanding middle class, supply and demand factors, demand for real estate assets and institutional investors seeking opportunities in the sector for strong returns,innovation in building technology, eco-efficient buildings,business model that leverage technology for digital sales and leasing purposes.

Others include increase demand for warehouse spaces, alternative real estate investments such as student housing, multi family, co-living and co-working; rising demand for service apartments and facility management.

On where investors can pitch their tent post 2023 elections, Co-Founder Alitheia Capital Limited, Mrs. OlajumokeAkinwunmi, said that affordable housing remained the best option.

She pointed out that affordable housing’s execution would rely on both the public and private sectors’ collaboration, to do more.

She noted that availability/access to data has been bridging the accommodation gap slowly asboth sectors are agreeing to a common understanding.

Talking about the four stakes to the next tangible milestone, she stated that this would include a permanent source of funding, a clear signal to the entire housing system and to increase the building stock.

Besides, Akinwunmi said that a planning/permitting/title transfer system that expedites affordable housing projects, ensuring timely delivery and pricing would be required.

Others, she said”Creating institution(s) (including for profit housing associations) as the primary long-term owner and manager of affordable housing under sale/rent combo models.

“Sustainable sources of finance –debt and investment capital—that recognise the low-risk attributes of affordable housing as an asset class. Scale and certainty of programs and certainty of programs.”

Senior Partner, Knight Frank, Mr Frank Okosun, expressed caution that some sectors of the economy, real estate sector inclusive would experience slow growth occasioned by a watch-and-wait approach from investors and other major industry’s players.

According to him, property market may see a pent up demand in post-election, and “thus investable long-term capital seeking expression through the market.”

He said “The market is going to slow down six months after the Presidential election.

“It’s going to be gloomy. We are going to have short (6-9) and long (two years) terms period. It is going to impact real estate.”

According to the property guru, office segment of the real estate market would witness absorption of rates, mostly affected by the performance of the economy, adding that most expansion projects would be kept on hold.

“Vacancy rate will continue to rise in the office segment where most companies are begging to downsising especially oil and gas companies. Grade ‘A’ landlords we begin to make adjustments and allowances,” he said.

On where investors can pitch their tents, Okosun listed student housing, health care, warehousing and logistics as areas of opportunities.

According to Okosun, ideally, manifestos of the political parties should give a direction of what to expect post-election.

However, he said it was unfortunate that experiences should make people and investors wise to moderate their expectations with respect to campaign promises of the major political parties, which included- “high capital intensive mass housing without clear roadmap on how the funds will be sourced and a land reform promise that maybe threatened by lack of political will eventually.

“Thus, a need for conscious optimism as campaign promises are common features of election cycles that hardly survive campaign periods.

“Also worth noting is that this Presidential election would be a transitioning to a new democratic regime and there are three months apart from announcement of result and handover.

“It is inevitable that governance will henceforth be distracted by handing over activities and many unfinished business which means that some sectors of the economy, real estate sector inclusive will experience slow growth occasioned by a watch-and-wait approach from investors and other major industry players,” Okosun said.

“It is however expected not to be all gloomy, as we expect the new government upon sworn in to be proactive enough that create short to medium term measures that will help resuscitate the economy and at least endear in the heart of the populace the legitimacy of the government.

“This implies from a real estate investment perspective that the property market may see a pent up demand in post-election, and thus investable long term capital seeking expression through the market.”

Okosun said that it was expected that the general election would have both the immediate short-term impacts and longer-term impacts on property segment.

“Whatever the effect of these sector-specific impacts maybe, they are still less important for real estate industry than the risk of the country going into recession, unless the Nigerian government implements counteracting policy measures,” he said.

CEO, Octos Holding Limited, Babajide Odusolu, remarked that though the country has houses but the units tend to be deficient.

According to him, Nigeria’s housing deficit cut across the entire strata.

“That is why our housing tends to be over priced and price out of the market, hence the empty houses we see,” he said

He pointed out that the nation has a growing middle class that could afford housing between N6 million and N30 million,  stating that Epe-Ibeju-Ikorodu axis, Agbado-Badagry axis and Isheri-Magboro-Lagos-Ibadan Expressway axis portend huge housing opportunity for investors.

According to him, 680,000 persons being 40 per cent of the Lagos’ labour workforce could afford houses priced between N6.8 million to N25 million, especially dual income households.

Unlike the past, the developer said the present generation home seekers required small houses, advising would- be investors to take the advantage and invest in multi living units, rental housing, micro houses and scalable housing projects.

The Octos boss said the emergence of digital platform/protech solutions have provided opportunities to optimise supply chain, simplify credit and aggregate demand in the real estate sector.

He urged participants to take advantage of the available technology, saying this remained the easiest way to monitor their investments.

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Property

2024 Lagos Real Estate Market Outlook

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By Esther Agbo

Lagos is no doubt one of the bustling commercial states in Nigeria and it stands as a beacon of opportunity for real estate investors. Its dynamic market is deeply entwined with the broader economic and political landscape of Nigeria, a nation characterised by its oil wealth, economic volatility, and evolving policies. As we navigate through 2024, the Lagos real estate sector presents a compelling mix of promise and challenge.

Nigeria’s economy has seen its fair share of ups and downs. While oil remains a significant contributor, it’s not the sole driver. Lagos, with its diversified economy encompassing finance, services, and tourism, offers a unique stability. Despite facing hurdles like inflation and currency devaluation, the city continues to attract substantial investments, buoyed by its status as a major financial center in Africa.

Lagos’s real estate market has demonstrated remarkable resilience. From the luxury enclaves of Ikoyi and Victoria Island to more affordable neighborhoods, the city caters to a broad spectrum of housing needs.

However, a pronounced gap exists between supply and demand. The rapid urbanization of Lagos has exacerbated a housing deficit, pushing property prices upward. Efforts by successive governments to bridge this gap have met with mixed results, although recent initiatives aim to make housing more accessible for lower-income residents.

Significant infrastructural projects, such as the Lekki-Epe Expressway, have spurred real estate development, boosting property values in newly accessible areas.

Concurrently, regulatory reforms are making strides towards a more transparent market. Enhanced property documentation and efficient land registration systems are part of this drive, aiming to reduce fraud and streamline transactions.

For investors, Lagos remains a hotspot. High-end areas like Ikoyi and Lekki continue to draw interest, while emerging neighborhoods offer new opportunities. The city’s rapid growth and economic diversity promise high returns.

However, navigating the complex legal and regulatory landscape can be daunting. Foreign investors, in particular, should seek local legal counsel to ensure compliance and gain deeper market insights.

Looking ahead, Lagos’s real estate market is set to benefit from ongoing and planned infrastructure projects. Road expansions, bridge constructions, and improved public transportation are expected to enhance accessibility, making new areas ripe for development. Additionally, efforts to bolster essential services like power supply will further boost the city’s livability and attractiveness.

Investors must tread carefully. Political instability, shifting economic policies, and legal complexities pose significant risks. Environmental challenges, including coastal erosion and flooding, particularly in low-lying areas, are also critical concerns.

The forecast for Lagos’s real estate market in 2024 is cautiously optimistic. While the city’s rapid urbanization and economic diversification provide a solid foundation for growth, the inherent risks cannot be overlooked. Potential downturns could see a decline in property demand and values, and liquidity issues may arise during economic slumps.

Ultimately, Lagos offers substantial opportunities for savvy investors willing to navigate its complexities. With informed strategies and a keen eye on evolving market dynamics, the real estate sector in this vibrant city can yield significant rewards.

For those looking to invest in Lagos, the key lies in balancing optimism with caution, leveraging local expertise, and staying abreast of policy changes and infrastructural developments.

As Lagos continues to evolve, so too will its real estate market, promising a landscape rich with potential for those ready to embrace its challenges and opportunities.

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Building collapses menace in Lagos, causes, human effects

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By Esther Agbo

Building collapses in Lagos have become increasingly common as there are frequent media reports of such incidents in major Lagos cities like Lagos island, Lekki, Victoria Island, Yaba etc.

However, Lagos State is making every effort to tackle the issue of building collapses, which are primarily caused by industry stakeholders cutting corners, particularly in obtaining the necessary construction permits.

According to the Building collapse prevention guild, as of 2024, there have been 11 recorded building collapses in Nigeria, with Lagos accounting for five, Anambra three, and Kano, Niger, and Plateau each reporting one incident.

On May 30, 2024, a four-story building on Lagos Island collapsed, trapping an unknown number of individuals. The collapse occurred near the Oba of Lagos palace at Iga Iduganran.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, confirmed the incident on his X (formerly Twitter) account, stating that eight people had been rescued and efforts were ongoing to retrieve two more individuals from the rubble with the assistance of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency who were actively involved in the rescue operations.

Another collapse also happened when a mosque, struck by an excavator, collapsed in the Papa Ajao area of Lagos State, killing an 11 years old girl and three others.

These are just a few out of many other building collapses in Lagos.

In February 2024, in a bid to avert the rising trend of building collapses in Lagos, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) embarked on a vigorous campaign to identify and rectify structural deficiencies in the city’s architecture.

Over the past year, the agency has published a comprehensive list detailing more than 435 buildings with critical structural issues, an initiative aimed at alerting residents and urging them to vacate these hazardous structures.

The Director of Public Affairs at LASBCA, Olusegun Olaoye, reacted to the increasing incidence of building collapses by unveiling the government’s proactive measures to enhance urban planning and regulatory enforcement, and also significantly ramped up its oversight activities, targeting illegal constructions and unqualified personnel responsible for substandard buildings.

According to him, Building collapses often stem from several factors, including the employment of non-professionals, the use of substandard materials, and neglect of building codes. He emphasised that addressing these issues is critical to mitigating the risks associated with old and deteriorating structures.

However, to combat these challenges, LASBCA strengthened its monitoring capabilities, ensuring that construction practices comply with both national and state building codes.

The agency has also been vigilant in preventing the unauthorised conversion of existing structures, which often contributes to structural weaknesses.

Building collapses can occur for various reasons, some of which are human-made while others are natural. While we can often prevent collapses caused by human factors, natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods are beyond our control, though some can be managed.

In Nigeria, we are fortunate to face fewer natural disasters, therefore most building collapses here result from human errors and negligence.

The pioneer President of the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Kunle Awobodu, has attributed the frequent building collapses in Lagos to weak regulations. He criticised the government’s inability to prosecute and convict those responsible for professional negligence in construction.

Awobodu, who was involved in creating some regulatory agencies, highlighted the inadequate staff strength of the building control agency compared to the vastness of Lagos’s built environment. He pointed out that quackery is a significant issue, as developers often do not ensure that construction is handled by professionals, even after the approval of building plans.

Causes

Building collapse can be caused by so many factors that are not limited to faulty design, negligence, incompetence, poor construction practices, foundation failures, excessive loads, and corruption. Natural forces were also identified as contributing factors. The paper offers several recommendations to address these challenges effectively.

Weak Foundations: A strong foundation is crucial for a building’s structural integrity. When the terrain and soil bearing capacity aren’t properly assessed, it can lead to weak foundations. Over time, buildings on poor soil or shallow foundations can shift as the soil settles.

Poor Maintenance can be another factor as every building requires maintenance throughout its lifespan. Neglecting maintenance can lead to decay, degradation, and reduced performance, eventually causing the building to collapse.

Another important factor is the Absence of Building or Planning Permit. Starting construction without approved plans from the relevant authorities is illegal. When developers skip proper approvals, faulty designs and plans go unchecked, leading to poor construction quality and potential collapse.

Many buildings in Lagos are constructed with inferior materials to cut costs. Developers often use low-quality cement, weak steel reinforcements, and insufficient concrete mixtures, compromising the structural integrity of buildings. Additionally, many construction projects lack proper oversight and adherence to building codes as contractors sometimes ignore architects and engineers specifications. Failing to adhere to these specifications can significantly contribute to structural failures.

The human toll

The human cost of these collapses is devastating. Families have been torn apart, and communities left in mourning. Each collapse scene is marked by the frantic efforts of rescue workers and the anguished cries of those searching for loved ones.

Survivors face not only emotional trauma but also economic hardship. Many victims were breadwinners, leaving dependents in dire straits. The psychological impact on survivors and rescuers is profound, with many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Call for change

The spate of building collapses has galvanised calls for urgent reforms. Civil society organisations, urban planners, and concerned citizens should demand stronger regulations, better enforcement, and greater accountability.

The Lagos State Government has been addressing this crisis. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced the establishment of a Building Regulatory Task Force to oversee construction projects and ensure compliance with safety standards. The government also plans to review existing buildings and mandate necessary reinforcements for structures deemed unsafe.

However, these promises have been met with scepticism. Past assurances have often failed to translate into concrete action. For lasting change, systemic corruption must be rooted out, and a culture of accountability must be fostered within the construction industry.

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Tinubu’s one year in office: Property developers adjust project designs due to surging costs

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…Residential property prices increase by over 20%

 …As investors remain cautiously optimistic

By Esther Agbo

Since the inauguration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Nigeria’s property market has witnessed significant shifts, reflecting broader economic trends and policy changes.

This feature explores the surge in property prices, the urban-rural divide, government policies, reduced national productivity, business difficulties, investment sentiment, and the challenges and prospects facing the real estate sector.

The real estate sector has faced numerous challenges in areas such as development, material procurement, marketing, financing, and cost of capital.

A recent Northcourt Real Estate report indicates that property prices are expected to adjust in response to these changes, with the construction industry adapting its projects accordingly.

The report highlighted that project designs, especially in the mid to low-income residential segments of major cities, will need to adjust. The high cost of capital, weak overall demand, and narrow profit margins are driving demand for smaller lot sizes and more intensive land use.

However, some policy changes by the Tinubu government have had several specific impacts on the property sector.

The increased short-term costs are likely to drive low-risk market participants towards safer investments, such as government securities with higher returns. However, opportunities for new long-term investors may arise as the benefits of foreign exchange harmonisation and fuel subsidy removal become evident.

What about the increased Infrastructure Development?

The removal of fuel subsidies presents an opportunity for the government to redirect funds previously spent on subsidies towards critical sectors like healthcare, education, agriculture, and defence, potentially boosting infrastructure investments.

Moreover, rising costs for construction materials, labour, and transportation may lead to more abandoned projects. Refinancing ongoing housing developments could become challenging, leading investors to reconsider their commitments and possibly pause their plans.

Housing Projects may face delivery delays due to foreign exchange policy changes and funding difficulties, with developers opting for more affordable construction and finishing materials. The supply chain disruptions caused by the removal of the fuel subsidy could further delay property deliveries.

Higher transportation costs due to subsidy removal have led to increased living expenses, prompting residents to stay closer to home, share apartments, or live with friends.

This population density increase is expected to drive demand for co-living spaces in crowded urban areas.

The surge in property prices

Under President Tinubu’s regime, property prices have surged remarkably. Key urban centres like Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt have seen property values skyrocket, driven by increasing demand and limited supply.

According to recent data, the price of residential properties in Lagos has increased by over 20 percent within the first year of Tinubu’s administration. This sharp rise is attributed to various factors, including heightened investor interest, inflationary pressures, and the rising cost of building materials.

The disparity between urban and rural property markets has widened significantly. In cities, the demand for housing and commercial properties continues to grow, fueled by urban migration and economic opportunities.

Conversely, rural areas have seen slower growth, hampered by inadequate infrastructure and lower investment levels. This urban-rural divide underscores the need for balanced development policies to ensure equitable growth across the nation.

Government policies and real estate

The Tinubu administration has introduced several policies aimed at revitalising the economy, some of which have directly impacted the real estate sector.

The government’s focus on improving infrastructure, such as roads and power supply, has boosted property values in areas benefiting from these projects.

Additionally, efforts to streamline land registration and titling processes have been well-received, although implementation challenges remain.

However, some of these policies have had unintended consequences. The removal of fuel subsidies, for example, has increased transportation costs, indirectly affecting the prices of building materials and, consequently, property prices.

Investor sentiment in Nigeria’s property market remains cautiously optimistic. While the long-term outlook is positive, speculative activities have led to inflated property values, particularly in prime urban areas.

Many investors view real estate as a hedge against inflation and currency depreciation, further driving demand. However, this speculation has also made affordable housing increasingly out of reach for the average Nigerian.

The cost of building materials

The skyrocketing cost of building materials is also a major concern. Cement prices have reached unprecedented levels, significantly impacting construction costs. Sand, granite and block prices have also risen, driven by increased demand and transportation costs.

In response to the rising cost of construction, BUA Group pledged to reduce cement prices. This promise has been met with cautious optimism, as many in the industry are keenly watching to see if these price cuts will materialise in the market and provide the much-needed relief to developers and builders.

Challenges facing the property sector

The property sector is facing several significant challenges, including High Construction Costs. The cost of essential building materials such as cement, sand, and blocks has soared. Cement prices, in particular, have been a major concern, with prices doubling in some regions over the past year.

Land Acquisition and Titling Issues is another challenge, obtaining land and securing proper titles remain cumbersome and fraught with bureaucratic hurdles. These challenges deter potential investors and delay property development projects.

Economic Volatility cannot be exempted as Inflation, currency instability, and fluctuating economic policies continue to pose risks to the sector. The unpredictability of these factors makes long-term planning difficult for developers and investors alike.

The way forward

Addressing the challenges in Nigeria’s property sector requires a multifaceted approach, starting from Policy Reforms, which involves continued efforts to streamline land acquisition and titling processes are essential. Simplifying these procedures will attract more investment and expedite property development.

Also, investing in infrastructure, especially in rural areas, will help bridge the urban-rural divide and stimulate growth across the country.

The government and private sector must collaborate to stabilise the prices of building materials. Initiatives like BUA’s promise to reduce cement prices should be supported and monitored to ensure they deliver tangible benefits.

Implementing policies and programs that promote affordable housing can help mitigate the impact of rising property prices on the average Nigerian, while ensuring macroeconomic stability, predictable and consistent economic policies will foster a more favourable investment climate, benefiting the property sector.

Though The Tinubu regime has seen a surge in property prices and heightened investment interest, significant challenges remain.

Addressing these issues through comprehensive policy reforms and strategic investments will be key to unlocking the full potential of Nigeria’s property market.

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