While other real estate developers are closing shops due to the nation’s unimpressive business climate, others have put on their thinking caps, eyeing opportunities in untapped segment of the market. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Despite the downturn in the real estate sector, many developers and investors have been creating a niche market for themselves to ensure that they keep their heads above water, not minding huge vacant properties in the market.
To them, empty properties adorning Ikoyi and Lekki, Lagos and Maitama and other highbrow districts in Abuja are built by owners as a store of value.
While many developers are looking at the low-income segment of real estate sector, others are targeting what they call “affordable luxury homes” for whosoever can afford them.
They are even spreading the market to Nigerians in diaspora, who are at the advantage due to forex earnings.
However, the latest in the series, according to revelations by the Founder and Managing Director of the newly unveiled Eximia Realty Company Limited, Mr Hakeem Ogunniran, is studio of one and two bedroom apartments for young couples and first time home owners.
To really meet the housing needs of 17 million Nigerians, Ogunniran said it had become imperative for government, corporate organisations and developers to commoditise and mass produce housing units.
According to him, until housing is commoditised in such a way that it becomes easy for people to buy and sell like other products, and industrialised to give room for large-scale production, the nation’s housing deficit might remain unresolved.
He said : “There are two things to do; we have to commoditise real estate ( buy and sell real estate). Today we must commoditise the process and also industrilised the process,” adding that his company has developed an app to make it ease for customers to buy and manage project.
Telling the Eximia story at a launch in Lagos, Ogunniran said that despite low recovery of real estate from slump, he has discovered that there was market for studio of one and two bedroom apartments, adding that his company would be focusing on this mid-tier market
“There is shortage of these apartments in the market and nobody is focusing this aspect of the market,” he said.
To take the bull by the horn, he disclosed that his company was looking beyond two, three years, and working with partners to develop some strategic housing estates both in Lagos and Abuja.
For studio of one bedroom and two bedroom apartments, he said: “The yield in the market is between eight and ten per cent, we already have a lot of offtakers and first time home owners. We are targeting between N10 million and N35 million per unit in these estates. There is no void in this market.”
Ogunniran, who was the immediate past managing director of UPDC Property Company, said he was targeting 5,000 housing units in the market for next five years.
According to him, two projects in the category have been set for launch in Lekki before the end of November.
He listed Lawton Park and Maestroville as ongoing projects.
According to him, Lawton Park comprises 64 apartments of studios of one and two bedroom flats, while Maestroville is made up of 42 apartments of studio of one and two bedroom flats.
Besides, the founder of Eximia said the company was also a joint developer of the Mews at Katampe, Abuja, Genesis Commercial Park in ikeja and joint promoters of new Lake City at Ibeju-Lekki , Lagos.
He disclosed plan by the company to partner the federal and state governments to develop affordable housing.
“Affordable housing with government come into fruition soon, we are discussing,” he said.
Talking about Lake City, he said it covered a total land area of 50 hectares, adding that it has been planned as a residential estate in ibeju-lekki and phased to give room for easy development.
The phase 1 of the scheme covers 10 hectares. The estate is planned to be a serene, well planned and structured neighbourhood comprising 40 units of four-bedroom detached duplex; 52 units of four-bedroom semi detached duplex; 192 units of studios of one and two bedroom apartments.
These estates comes with facilities such as playground, community centre, water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, power station and others.
On funding, the Eximia founder noted that capital mobilisation was critical at both the retail end and construction end of real estate.
For retail end funding, he hinted that the company adopted Kenya model of circle system, pointing out that this accounted for 35 per cent of Kenya ‘s national saving, and 25 per cent of real estate funding in the country.
He said he had approached the Lagos State Government for partnership in this area of model to mobilise fund through the creation of a cooperative and multi-purpose society.
“We have agreed and this will come into fruition soon,” he said.
For construction fund, he said the company was working with two other funding partners in this regards.
The former UPDC boss said he had been involved in reform of the real estate in the last eight years, adding that this experience has given him the opportunity to build the kind of partnership to succeed and sourced the necessary fund.
“We plan to become Africa big real estte company; we have built partnership in Kenya, Accra and Nigeria,” he said.
Chairman of Eximia and former Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, Professor Bamitale Omole, assured Nigerians that the company would deliver on its core values.
Chief Mrs. Nike Akande, stated that with what the company has outlined, she was conviced that Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) were critical drivers of economic growth and development.
“In my discussion with Eximia, it will provide employment opportunities to our teeming youths and promote economic growth,” she said.
Nigeria’s housing deficit of 17 million provides ample business opportunities for real estate developers and investors.