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‘Nigeria real estate funds can solve housing problems’

Funds domiciled in the real estate sector in Nigeria could be what is needed to address the housing shortage in the country. Following a research by FSDH Merchant Bank, that there are limited real estate firms in the country, it is believed that the three now listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) is enough to fix the housing problem in the country.

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The research explained that REFs have not gained much popularity in terms of the numbers available and their size relative to the size of the economy. It explained that there were only three REFs listed on the NSE, which are Union Homes Real Estate Investment Trust, Skye Shelter Fund and UPDC Real Estate Investment Trust.The report observed that there was a significant shortage of affordable housing in the country estimated at about 20 millions.

“This means that Nigeria needs to build between close to 20 million housing units to ensure that Nigerians have this basic human need,” it added. In monetary terms, Nigeria might require between N170trillion and N200 trillion to bridge the housing gap if each unit costs N10million. It said: “Given the rising population in the country, the housing shortage keeps increasing.

‘’Meanwhile, the developments in the real estate sector of the economy, which is where activities that will close the housing shortage will take place, have not been impressive with economic activities in the real estate sector consistently contracting since Q1 201.6.” The report suggested that investors in the retail and high-networth segment could create wealth in real estate through regularly investing in a Real Estate Fund (REF) without investing directly in the brick and mortar.

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Explaining REF, the report noted that it is an investment vehicle that pools resource to invest in real estate; therefore, allowing individual investors to partake in the benefits of the underlying properties. The report further explained that REFs are traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), just like stocks/shares and could be purchased through stockbrokers, just like other stocks/shares.

The report added that every REF must have a fund manager that manages the fund to ensure the best return to shareholders and a good example of real estate working for the investors. It said: “The holder of a REF will earn a share of the income from the real estate investment through dividends without actually having to buy, manage or finance any housing projects. It is required to distribute at least 90 per cent of their taxable income as dividend. As a result, it provides constant income for shareholders.”

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