Politics

2019 election: Downturn in property market affecting campaign funding

The current glut in the property market is hindering politicians from disposing some of their properties to fund their political ambitions in the 2019 general elections, investigations have shown.

It is a common practice for politicians to sell off their properties few months before elections to fund their campaigns, but the 2019 general election may be different, given the current scenario in the property market.

According to findings by our correspondent, the real estate market is currently saturated with unsold properties, a situation that began during the recession and has persisted.

Realtors said that some properties in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and other major cities in the country, had been vacant for more than two years.

The Principal Partner of Bode Adediji Partnership, a consortium of professionals in the built environment, Mr Bode Adediji, said there had been a glut in the premium and middle class property market, where politicians play, in the last few years.

He said, “At every election year, politicians, their god-fathers and their other constitute stakeholders like to generate sufficient cash to fund their elections among others through the disposal of their real estate assets. It is normal, but the impact of these for this particular election may not be obvious because prior to this time, there has been a glut in the property market particularly in Abuja, Lagos and other major cities of the country.

“If we were in an era of boom where we had scarcity of properties to buy, many of the properties would come to markets in Lekki, Ikoyi and Ikeja, and there would have been likelihood that people will feel the impact. But with the glut in the market now, the more properties pumped into the market, the lesser impact it will have.”

The Senior Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Nelson Thorpe Alonge, a firm of chartered surveyors and estate surveyors and valuers, Mr Victor Alonge, said the situation in the property market had remained the same since 2015.

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“The truth is that there is clearly an oversupply of property for sale, it has been like that for some time especially since the current dispensation. There are few effective demands, which is why prices have not risen. We have not seen any difference and people are not buying properties like before,” he said.

At the beginning of the year, real estate firm, Northcourt, in its ‘2018 Nigeria Real Estate Market Outlook’, had stated that consumer purchasing power had remained low.

Property developers as well as estate surveyors and valuers posit that the real estate industry had not fully recovered from the recession despite the rebound in other sectors of the economy.

The Deputy President, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Mr Akintoye Adeoye, told our correspondent that investors, especially those in the residential sub-sector, had yet to feel the impact of a rebound in the economy.

He noted that despite several innovative options that had been made available to buyers, developers were still unable to sell off or lease properties.

According to Adeoye, the luxury sector of the market is the worst hit while rental market is also not faring better as many landlords and tenants are in court over default on rent obligations.

Adeoye stated, “Developers haven’t felt any change in the economy. It is almost the same as it was when the recession was biting hard. Many houses are still vacant despite the fact that developers are becoming very innovative with offers to investors.

“We have come up with offers some of which allow subscribers to pay between 20 and 30 per cent deposit, move into the houses and spread the balance over four to six-year period. But despite this very generous offer, many subscribers are not forthcoming, because they are unable to come up with the deposits even on houses as cheap as N9m. So, in the real estate industry, we are still in a recession.”

But the glut may not be the only reason why many politicians are finding it difficult to sell off their mansions as it was done in the past.

Alonge noted that anti-graft agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had intensified their efforts to monitor real estate transactions, which had been identified as one of the avenues for money laundering and an investment channel for proceeds of corruption.

“People are afraid of the EFCC, it is not as if they don’t all have the money to buy; but people are scared. The EFCC is waiting for people, especially politicians to make huge real estate transactions and they will probe them,” he said.

Adediji stated that with the current atmosphere of the economy and the anti-corruption crusade, politicians were no longer freely offering their properties for sale and were also not to ready to buy.

He stated that each transaction handled by registered real estate firms, were monitored while such realtors were mandated to report such sales to the money laundering department of the EFCC.

“These are the things that have dampened the excitement to either sell or to buy,” he said.

Source Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

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