Repeal FMBN Act now, stakeholders urge govt

 For not performing the roles for which it was established, stakeholders in the built environment have called on the Federal Government to repeal the Act of Parliament that gave impetus to Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).

The FMBN Act was established to aid in bridging the housing deficits in the country through mortgage financing, which the stakeholders believe is far from being the roles. They, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to repeal the Act to give room for its comprehensive re-establishment and board strengthening.

The stakeholders also sought for the establishment of Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders of Nigeria (IMBLN) for the regulation of the sector’s activities to instill efficiency and professionalism. The call was made at House of Representatives Committee on Housing public hearing on a bill for an act to establish the IMBLN and a bill for an act to repeal the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Act, Cap F16, 2004 to make comprehensive provisions for the re-establishment of the FMBN and its board of directors.

The establishment of regulatory institute in the mortgage industry, the stakeholders stressed, will help to instill professionalism, eliminate fraud, remove speculators, provide regulatory framework, entrench sanity and decency, and provide training programmes for practitioners in the sector, among others.

The stakeholders emphasised that the repeal of existing FMBN Act and the re-enactment of an Act re-establishing and strengthening the management and board of the bank will embolden the bank to carry out its functions unimpeded. They specifically called for the recapitalisation of the FMBN from the current N5 billion to at least N1 billion and the inclusion of the critical stakeholders who are contributing to the National Housing Fund (NHF)as members of the board.

Speaking on the role of mortgage, the Managing Director of FMBN, Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, said the establishment of IMBLN will provide standards and make estate business a career. He, however, said that aside FMBN’s support to the repeal of the present Act establishing it, the share capital of the bank should be increased to N500 billion to improve its liquidity.

According to him, the bank should be wholly owned by the Federal Government, adding that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) should not be shareholders of the bank as they cannot be playing the role of regulator and owner at the same time. 

“To be able to play its role of providing affordable housing finance at single digit interest to Nigerians, particularly the low and the middle income earners in Nigeria, FMBN should remain as a government corporation and should continue to manage the NHF,” he said.

Also, the Managing Director of Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Mohammed Al-Amin, while supporting the establishment of a regulatory institute for the mortgage sector, said the bill re-establishing FMBN should enhance its liquidity, remove unnecessary interventions from the Ministry of Finance, eliminate incident of having another agency carrying out the function of FMBN or assigned to manage the NHF because it will create administrative bottlenecks.

Other stakeholders who also made presentations in support of establishing a regulatory institute in the mortgage sector and strengthening FMBN include the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Council of Registered Builders, Nigeria Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Federal Government Staff Housing Board, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, among others.

Government must support private efforts in property industry –Fraser Suites Director

The Executive Director, Royal Pacific Group, promoters of Fraser Suites, Abuja, Mr. MG Nasreddin, has stressed the need for government to increase investment in property industry or better still support private investment with enabling environment. 

He believes that such opportunity will also encourage local and international private investments, thus creating wealth down the value chain, boosting the economy and complementing the effort of government in the provision of quality and affordable housing for Nigerians. 

The marketing and communications advisor of the company, Haroun Harry Audu, who addressed a press conference in Abuja, said the company has been on the forefront of global hospitality and property business with an appreciable presence in Europe, Middle-East, Africa, North Asia, Southeast-Asia and Australia.

He reaffirmed that the company was committed and determined to create a platform for easy exchange of knowledge and skills between its foreign and local partners, which will be relevant for better and profitable operating system. 

He further announced that its newly built five-star Fraser Suites in Abuja will be officially commissioned in the first quarter of 2018, even as it recently won two awards in Switzerland for Nigeria’s hospitality industry.

The first award, according to him, was the “2017 Luxury Hotel Award for Nigeria”, which was in recognition of its sustained commitment to excellence in hotel business and outstanding achievement in the international luxury hospitality industry.

The second award was “Global Winner for Luxury Business Serviced Apartments.” The award plaque and certificate of excellence were received by the Executive Director, Royal Pacific Group, promoters of Fraser Suites, Abuja, Mr. MG Nasreddin.

The man behind Dubai’s affordable Housing boom

onstruction and real estate billionaire,  Rizwan Sajan details his journey to the top and where he plans to take Danube Group next (Culled from Gulf Business)

QUESTION: Your story is often described as being ‘from rags to riches’, having started over in Dubai with nothing. Did you ever imagine you would be where you are today?

ANSWER: I moved to Dubai post the Gulf War, in an attempt to reinvent myself and regain all that I had lost in Kuwait. At that moment, investing the money I had wisely, setting up a business and making it profitable was the priority. I was quite sure I would succeed because of my business acumen, the products I was selling and the market conditions, but I definitely did not expect to reach such heights. God has been very kind to me, bringing the right opportunities at the right time that have resulted in all that I have achieved to date.

QUESTION: You have been one of the leading players in the trend of affordable housing in Dubai, are the days of luxury properties numbered?

ANSWER: At present, more developers are leaning towards affordable housing because it offers good returns and there are a large number of buyers in the market that are looking to buy affordable homes. Being the pioneers in affordable housing, we have seen overwhelming demand, which has led us to believe that the demand for affordable homes will continue to increase in the future. The luxury segment definitely does have its own market since Dubai is being inhabited by so many nationalities, but I am sure affordable housing is the future.

QUESTION: Much of Danube’s recent property marketing has focussed on Bollywood stars, has this produced the results you expected and are there plans to change the strategy?

ANSWER: In the gamut of advertising it is quite difficult to measure results, but having a familiar face such as a celebrity does help to build a connect with the audience and in turn draw eyeballs to our campaigns.

QUESTION: In May last year Danube announced plans to launch three to four housing projects annually, do you plan to stick to this goal and could you exceed it?

ANSWER: We try not to be over ambitious when we launch our projects and ensure that we sell one project before we launch another. Moreover, we don’t have a land bank, and have to constantly source new pieces of land to build on. At present, looking at the interest we have garnered through our nine projects, we will continue to stick to our current goal of launching three to four projects a year.

QUESTION: Given the recent downturn in the market, do you believe Dubai continues to be an attractive location for real estate investors?

ANSWER: Dubai has established itself as the centre of the world and connects the west with the east. The recent downturn might have affected the market sentiment but I believe this a temporary phase and every market needs to undergo a correction. In my opinion, Dubai still offers the greatest growth opportunity for many investors and will definitely offer good value in investing in real estate at the lowest price amongst other developed nations.

QUESTION: How have current market conditions affected your development plans and have you been forced to hold back any projects?

ANSWER: Since the inception of Danube Properties in 2014, we have received very good responses and have sold out eight projects and have currently sold 50 per cent of our latest project, Bayz. All our projects are under construction and are progressing ahead of schedule. By the end of this year, we plan on handing over four projects, which are Dreamz, Glitz 1, Glitz 2 and Glitz 3. Dreamz is on the verge of completion and we will commence handovers by next month [July].

QUESTION: Do you have any intention to develop properties outside of Dubai in the wider UAE and Gulf region?

ANSWER: At present, we do not have plans to develop properties outside of Dubai but we are definitely evaluating options to expand our presence.

QUESTION: What are your expectations for this year in terms of your company’s and the wider real estate market’s performance?

ANSWER: The outlook for the rest of the year is looking good and we are expecting to perform reasonably well. Since the last quarter of 2016 business has picked up, especially in the real estate sector. As part of the company’s operations in 2017, we launched two properties valued at Dhs750m ($204m), opened a new Danube Home Store in Oman and a 10,000 square foot business to business facility in Ajman. We intend on launching two more projects this year and the handover of our first four projects.

Urban Regeneration: Town planners charged with formulation of devt agenda

To enhance quality of practice for effective national development and physical planning and ensure sustainable environment, town planners have been urged to discharge their duties to the public in accordance with the ethics of their profession.

The charge was given at the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners’ 48th Annual Conference/General Meeting held last week in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, with Physical Planning for Environment, Equity, Security and Economic Enhancement, as the theme.  The conference was meant to look into security and the challenges of environment facing Nigerians especially in the Niger-Delta region. The AGM which witnessed attendance by the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, who was represented by his deputy, Rear Admiral Gboribi John Jonah (Rtd) declared the conference open.

The president of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planning, NITP, Luka Achi while speaking, said cities in Africa, including Nigeria, are faced with challenges of rapid urbanization such as increasing poverty, lack of access to basic services, inadequate infrastructure and deteriorating environment.

He added that Nigerian cities are facing this form of urban growth without robust institutional framework to manage it, coupled with inability of cities and their public institutions to provide adequate employment, urban services, land infrastructure, non-inclusiveness and divides in human settlement.

The NITP boss noted that “Institutional framework for physical planning at all levels of governance is inadequate and unstructured. Many states of the federation are yet to domesticate the Nigerian urban and regional law of 1992 as amended  and develop instruments such as masterplan and accompanying lower order development plans for their towns and cities in which adequate attention is not accorded sustainable physical development planning and urban generation by governments in their annual budgets.”

Achi called on governments and professionals in the built industry to be actively involved in the formulation of development agenda towards addressing the challenges of rapid urbanisation, increasing poverty and environmental deterioration in human settlement.

According to him, they should undertake this in conjunction with all stakeholders in which true democratic culture, value and implementation mechanism are adequately entrenched in Nigeria’s physical planning and urban development policies while resources should be made available and prudently utilised to raise the quality of life of the people.

Also speaking at the event, the 1st National president, Lekwa Ezutah, recommended that government should identify with the planners in creating better physical environment in their communities. He pointed out that  town planners are ready to use their position and instrument to facilitate and co-ordinate community access to government for community development and planning.

National Housing Project: FG pledges fund disbursement to hasten completion

Federal Government has pledged quick disbursement of funds to hasten ongoing construction of houses under the National Housing Programme (NHP). The Minister of State 1 for Power, Works and Housing, Alhaji Mustapha Shehuri, made the pledge while briefing Newsmen in Enugu on at the end of his inspection tour of NHP sites in Southeast zone of the country.

Shehuri promised to facilitate payment of contractors once they raised certificate to enable quick completion of the housing projects nationwide.

He said that “regarding the issue of funding, I will personally take the issue up and make sure that funds are made available when due to round up the project.

“I am sure that funds are available and payment will be made when due to complete the projects.

“The programme is in line with the President’s campaign promise to provide infrastructure to Nigerians. Federal Government is doggedly determined to bridging the national housing gap.”

He appealed to state governments to settle NHP land owners to enable them to access the site for successful project.

The minister noted that in all the states he visited in the zone, none of the housing construction reached near completion like that of Enugu.

Earlier, Mrs Tina Ene, the Deputy Director, Department of Public Building and Housing of the ministry, had briefed the minister of the reports at the NHP site of Enugu, located at Ugwuogonike in Enugu East Local Government Area.

Ene said 12 contractors were mobilised at the project site, some of the houses had gone beyond lintel level, while some had been roofed.

She added that “we were given a couple of sites and this is one of the best; we have a lot of schools and estates coming up around here.

“We also have the cooperation of indigenes of this place, as no one ever harassed us, instead, they protect us and our property.”

The deputy director noted that from the inception of the programme, they relied on local materials as directed by the ministry to promote made in Nigeria products.

She said “the doors, water cistern, tiles, windows, marble, kitchen sinks, including the roofing sheets are all locally made.

“There are no locks that are manufactured in Nigeria, they are the only imported products we use, that is the challenge we have and an opportunity to investors because they are not produced in Nigeria.”

Mr Keneth Onyekaba, a representative of the contractors of NHP in Enugu, said the housing construction of 72 units of one, two and three bedroom bungalows started in April 2017.

Onyekaba said that at the beginning of the project, the terrain was difficult, adding that the foundation stage was difficult and took a lot of time and money.

He urged Federal Government to release funds for the project, adding that if funds would be provided, the houses would be completed early 2018.

The NHP is one of the programmes of Federal Government to provide affordable and functional housing units to Nigerians

FMBN Disburses N7bn loan to Beneficiaries in 2017

The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) on Wednesday said it disbursed more than N7 billion loan to beneficiaries in 2017.

Its Managing Director, Ahmed Dangiwa, disclosed this at the FMBN 2017 Management Retreat in Abuja, with the theme “Towards Improving FMBN Transaction Turnaround Time“.

Dangiwa noted that the focus of the bank’s loan was to ensure completion of ongoing projects and recover FMBN financial outlay presently tied.

He said that the bank recovered N2.4 billion in 2017 against a cumulative figure of N8.3 billion as at 2016.

According to him, the retreat will underscore the intention of the new management for a quick positive turn-around in all facets of the bank’s operations.

Dangiwa said that the bank was micro-managing some of the housing estates to forestall diversion of funds and ensure recovery of loans.

“The new management has also made a total refund payment of N6.6 billion to 44,370 beneficiaries in 2017 against a cumulative figure of N7.4 billion as at 2016.

“Our backlog of unaudited accounts is expected to be cleared before the end of the year,’’ he said.

The FMBN boss said the bank’s effort to implementing risk management framework was ongoing, while it was being assisted by the Institute of Directors to make the bank an institute of sound cooperate governance culture.

He said the mortgage market was subject to myriad of legislative requirements including the requirement for governor’s consent before a mortgage transaction could be legal.

In order to address this, he said, the bank created the Internal Records Office as an interim measure to secure its loans and provide some form of equity to cover loan facilities.

He said that the National Housing Fund (NHF) collection was growing steadily, adding that as a result of its strategic engagements, several non-contributing states had indicated readiness to re-join the scheme.

In a keynote address, the Minister of State II for Power, Works and Housing, Suleiman Zarma, tasked the bank to ensure adequate liquidity, develop secondary mortgage market and promote home ownership.

He said the challenges of a significant national housing deficit, the dearth of long-term funding and the high cost of housing delivery also placed enormous responsibility on the bank.

The minister challenged the bank to look into the NHF registration, collection and loan processes and initiate possible review towards reducing the current transaction turnaround time.

“These services are critical as they form the bulk of areas of the service needs of the public, and the manner the bank delivers on these services form most important indicators of the quality of services provided,’’ he said.

The retreat was attended by FMBN staff nationwide as well as delegates of Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN) and Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria.

Real Estate Developer Woodbridge Group Files for Bankruptcy Amid SEC’s Fraud Probe

Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC, a high-end real estate developer, filed for bankruptcy amid the departure of its chief executive and an investigation into potential securities fraud linked to $1 billion in investments.
The Chapter 11 filing on Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, cited “unforeseen costs associated with ongoing litigation and regulatory compliance.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been probing whether Woodbridge defrauded investors who invested more than $1 billion. The agency also sought more information on about 236 limited liability companies Woodbridge formed, according to an October SEC court filing.

Woodbridge said in a statement it’s cooperating with the investigation. Chief Executive Officer Robert Shapiro resigned, but will take on a consulting role as the Sherman Oaks, California-based company seeks to restructure $750 million in debt, according to the statement. He’ll get a monthly fee of $175,000, which will be paid to WFS Holding Co., an entity he controls, according to court papers.

Affiliate Control

“Woodbridge has represented to investors that bona-fide third parties are borrowing money and repaying interest at a high rate, of which the investors in Woodbridge funds get a portion thereof,” the regulator said in an Oct. 31 filing. “However, evidence obtained in our investigation reveals that many, if not all, of these LLCs may be Woodbridge affiliates with Shapiro as their manager.”

Ryan O’Quinn, a lawyer with DLA Piper representing Shapiro, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment about the SEC’s investigation.

The Woodbridge Group Enterprise operates through a group of affiliated companies that are all directly or indirectly owned by RS Protection Trust, according to court papers. Robert Shapiro or members of his family are trustees, the papers show.

“Although RS Protection Trust retains its economic interests in the debtors, it has relinquished its control rights over them to independent third parties,” the company wrote in court papers filed Monday.

Hankey Capital LLC has agree to provide up to $100 million in debtor-in-possession financing to fund the business as it reorganizes, secured by liens on 28 properties, according to court papers. Larry Perkins of SierraConstellation Partners has been appointed chief restructuring officer.

The company’s units specialize in multi-million-dollar properties, with recent listings including an $11.7 million, 8-bath home in Aspen, Colorado. They also market mortgage notes to individual investors, commercial loans and alternative investments.

Miami real estate tech firm to build global HQ in downtown Orlando, create 100 jobs

A Miami-based emerging real estate fintech company announced today, Dec. 7, that Orlando will become the company’s future global headquarters location.

The World Property Exchange Group Inc., which deploys technology solutions for the global real estate investment market, has offices in New York City, Miami and Irvine, Calif. It will have its downtown Orlando headquarters location open in early 2018 at the Regions Bank tower in Suite 800, where it has a short-term lease, according to the Orlando Economic Partnership.

The company will hire more than 100 people in the next three years for high-wage jobs consisting mainly of computer coders, network engineers, data scientists, cyber security experts, economists, mathematicians and corporate executives, as it builds and deploys the world’s first all-digital, patent-pending, Security Exchange Commission-regulated Real Estate Stock Exchange by the end of 2019.

“Given Central Florida’s indigenous University of Central Florida tech, real estate, cyber security and banking software talent, coupled with the state of Florida’s zero corporate tax rates, lower cost of doing business and great quality of life, Orlando was the obvious choice to plant our company flag as the best place in the U.S. to build, grow and operate our global real estate investment platform,” CEO Michael Gerrity said in a prepared statement.

Saudi real estate market named among world’s worst performers

Saudi Arabia’s real estate market is one of the worst performers in the world, according to new data released by Knight Frank.

Its latest Global House Price Index showed that Saudi Arabia was ranked 55th out of 56 markets analysed during the third quarter of 2017.

The index said prices in the Gulf kingdom fell by 5.4 percent over the past year although there are signs of an improving picture in recent months.
Knight Frank data revealed that prices in Saudi Arabia were up by 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent over the past six- and three-month periods.

The real estate consultancy added: “This quarter marks the inclusion of Saudi Arabia within the index for the first time. Latest data shows prices slipped 5.4 percent on an annual basis meaning it is second only to Ukraine as the weakest-performing market.

“The oil-dependent Saudi economy is struggling to gain traction, which along with the recent introduction of a levy on expatriate workers is stifling housing demand.”
Globally, Iceland topped the Q3 rankings with year-on-year price growth of more than 20 percent, ahead of Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, Malta and Canada.

Overall, the Knight Frank Global House Price Index increased by 5.1 percent in the year to September. Prices increased year-on-year in 88 percent of the countries tracked but almost half saw their rate of growth decline compared with last quarter.

FG finally hands over State House, Marina to Lagos govt

The Federal Government on Tuesday completed the process of handing over the State House, Marina, to the Lagos State Government.

The process which started about 20 years ago was completed with the signing and exchanging of documents between the state government and the Federal Government in Abuja.

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, signed for the state government while the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, signed on behalf of the Federal Government.

Speaking before signing the documents, Ambode described the hand over as a sign of greater things and greater collaboration between the state and the Federal Government.
He disclosed that the state government’s intention is to turn the property to a tourist centre that will help improve the economy of the state.

The governor said, “We are delighted to be here on a historic day that finalizes the intention of President Buhari to bring positive change to Lagos.

“We thank the President that approved that the presidential lodge be released to Lagos State.We have been trying for 20 years.

“I am pleased that on a day like this, it is my predecessor and the current minister that is now doing the final hand over. He has also been part of efforts to get the property back to Lagos. It is by God’s doing that he is positioned today to do the final handover.

“We see this as a sign of greater things and greater collaboration between the Federal Government and the state. It will improve the economy of the state because our intention is to turn that property to a national monument that we will christen a National Heritage Centre for Leadership.

“We will also use it as a tourist centre to attract Nigerian and foreign tourists and use it as a means of improving the economy of the state.”

Fashola, on his part, described the hand over as being consistent with the President’s promise to respond to many things that have been left undone.

He said, “We are here to sign and exchange documents which formally vest the Presidential Lodge in Marina in the Lagos State Government in fulfillment of the commitment and promise yet by President Buhari.

“This is a long journey that has come to an end. It is a journey that has taken almost two decades when the state government continued to ask that this property be vested in it. For reasons difficult to understand, it did not happen.

“But a President of change, a promise keeper, has made it happen. So while the state government has already taken possession as handed over by the Presidency, we are here to formally sign and exchange documents that will give the state government right to the property.

“It is consistent with the President’s promise to respond to many things that have been left undone. Projects like Bodo-Bonny Bridge is now bringing hope and expectation to the people of Bonny.

“The project waited for almost 30years and some works have started now. Same thing is happening with the Mambila Project that saw people of Taraba State waiting for almost 40years.”

Fashola said with the hand over, Lagos State has joined the league of states with stories of promise fulfilled.

Ambode was accompanied to the brief ceremony by the Secretary to the State Government, Tunji Bello; and the Commissioner for Information, Steve Ayorinde, among other government officials.

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