Real Estate: Providing suitable homes for Nigerians

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Nigeria has a worrisome deficit in housing, which as at 2012, was estimated at a minimum of 17 million units. Recently, the figure was raised and, according to experts, it could be up to 20 million units, if a proper investigation of the state of affairs in the sector was undertaken.

Majority of Nigerians live in blighted and unplanned areas that are unfit, and some are unfit for human habitation, and most of these communities are in cities. Some housing experts argue that the deficit in the 2012 report of the World Bank was as a result of these unplanned communities like Lekki, which, though have beautiful homes, but was not documented as livable because of the unplanned environment.

In Abuja, Homes Group is planning to do things differently. Business & Economy Review was able to confirm this in a short chat with Alhaji Musa Dangogo Aliyu, who founded Urban Shelter Limited in 1991.

Urban Shelter had about 2 billion share capitals as at when he left the company in 2015, together with about 800 million reserves. Today, their asset is about 25 billion. Now Urban Shelter Limited is a household name in the real estate sector, having gone outside the shores of Nigeria to Gambia and Ghana.

The perception of Homes Group emanated from Aliyu’s experience at Urban Shelter. It’s an attempt not to put all portfolios or eggs in one basket which means if one is lost, all is lost.

“So I came up with the idea of Homes Group where the members are Rural Homes Ltd., Rural & Urban Homes Ltd., and Distinctive Homes Ltd.” Aliyu said.

Rural & Urban Homes Ltd provide affordable homes for the masses. The company concentrates in satisfying needs of individuals and businesses, such as being able to build markets. For Rural & Urban Homes, the idea is to provide homes that cost from five to twenty-five million naira.

“That is what I call affordable even though it’s above what Federal Mortgage Bank can give, which is 15 million naira. I know that there are Nigerians who are above this category. So Rural & Urban Homes is to cater to the middle cadre in the country. Nigerians are proud and if they have the money, they want to spend it. People who want to spend from 25 – 50 million will benefit from the services of Rural & Urban Homes Ltd while those who want to spend from 60 million – 1 billion naira can look to the services of Distinctive Homes Ltd. We put these under a roof so that clients can come and get advice or what we call site-and-service where if you want to build your own home we can give advice.”

The Homes Group caters to backward integration. This will be looking to partner companies abroad and internally with the goal of reducing cost of raw materials for construction companies. The management has to look inwards to see what kind of industry can be put together to make this happen. Homes Group may after some years also approach the Nigerian Stock Exchange as a powerhouse for building in Nigeria.

Partnership

At inception, Rural Homes was able to come into partnership with Abuja Investment Company Ltd and secured a 10-hectare project to build Karimo Market. Karimo is a new district in which a market is springing up and this makes it a successful leap for Rural Homes. The project is primarily what makes the district to be vibrant these days. Developers are coming back to site now, seeing that the place is opening up. Within five minutes drive, you can get to the rail-station. There are other side attractions close to where the Karimo project is going on which means that soon, the business development over there will be able to support the Nigerian economy.

“We have also handled this kind of project before in Garki area and we saw our shortcoming. It was handled by Urban Shelter. Now, we know the mistakes we made over there and we have corrected them. You can notice that simply by looking at the designs.

“Before now, people were afraid of putting down their money but now such things no longer exist. We have high hopes about what is going to come up at the Karimo market which we believe will be commissioned in about 18 months.”

Building Homes at Reasonable Cost

Nigerians are wealthy people. However, in this country there are people who would love to enjoy some amenities without having the capacity to do so financially.

Could it be possible for clients to get homes at lesser rates than five million naira from Rural & Urban Homes? “Yes, it is possible,” said Aliyu. “It is possible to build a two-bedroom apartment and sell it for two to three million. Housing problems abound in Nigeria. Cost of land, of doing business such as the interest rates, etc, these are just some of the challenges in the real estate sector.

“Today in Nigeria, inflation is about 18 percent officially. Developers are in a dilemma. How can they put all these things together and still remain in business? In business you either want to make profits or break even,” Aliyu explained.

For Homes Group, a think-tank in the housing sector in Nigeria, the most important aspect of doing business is making sure that Nigerians are able to afford homes that reasonably priced and suitable for humans to live in.