Reporter

Trump’s Tax reform is Contributing to the Housing-Market slowdown, New York Fed finds

The housing market has continued to cool this year, remaining a soft spot in an otherwise solid economy. And President Donald Trump’s tax cuts passed in 2017 appear to be partly to blame, according to a new study from the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

“Changes in federal tax laws enacted in December of 2017 have contributed to the slowing of housing market activity that occurred over the course of 2018,” economists Richard Peach and Casey McQuillan said in the report out Monday, though they added the results weren’t conclusive.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was long expected to increase after-tax home ownership costs by capping the amount of mortgage debt on which interest is deductible, doubling Americans’ standard deduction and lowering marginal tax rates. Those changes reduced the apparent price tag of the plan, but drew widespread criticism from Democrats and some industry groups.

“Before the tax law, the incentive to purchase and even trade up was in the itemization of taxes,” said Jonathan Miller, the chief executive of Miller Samuel, a real-estate appraisal firm. “The ‘reform’ aspect of the tax cut replaces the direct messaging long enjoyed by housing.”

The tax overhaul came at the same time as higher borrowing costs, with the average contract interest rate on 30-year fixed rate mortgages climbing about 70 basis points between the end of 2017 and the third quarter of 2018. But the most recent slowdown was more severe than in two previous episodes when mortgage rates rose by a similar amount.

The New York Fed found the largest sales declines tended to be in the highest price ranges and areas with higher income and property taxes at the state and local level, where homebuyers would have been most affected by the tax changes.

For homes where the amount borrowed exceeds $750,000, for example, the economists said capital costs appear to have increased to 5% from 1%.

“Different provisions of the TCJA combine to increase the marginal user cost of capital for homeowners, especially for higher-priced homes and homes in high-tax jurisdictions,” Peach and McQuillan said.

While lower borrowing costs have drawn some Americans from the sidelines in recent months, gauges of the housing market have continuedto come in below expectations. In March, mortgage rates hit a 14-month low.

“This plan was introduced at the same time mortgage rates were rising so the cause of the slow down was less clear,” Miller said. “But today rates are now lower than they were a year ago so the slowdown wasn’t really about rising mortgage rates.”

Gina Heeb

Mortgage Secrets That Will Save You Money

It’s hard to imagine a more boring (and dreaded) word than “mortgage.” But if you know where to look, you might find a mortgage that will save you thousands of dollars a year, or qualify for a loan when you didn’t think you could — and that’s exciting. You might even find free money to help with a down payment.

Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Don’t just wander into your bank to get a mortgage. Shop around at all kinds of lenders — especially if you’re a first-time home buyer.

Deitra Douglas bought a home in Charlotte, N.C. last year — but only because of a loan program that most people don’t even know exists. Though she had a good job, Douglas had been through a divorce and run up credit card debt, hurting her credit score. Her bank told her she didn’t qualify for a mortgage.

Mortgage

A friend told her about a non-profit homeownership organization called the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA). Under NACA’s mortgage program, Douglas took a homebuyer class, demonstrated over time that she was saving money, and paid off $11,000 of credit card debt. That qualified her for a mortgage with a low down payment with no closing costs or fees.

NACA founder Bruce Marks calls the program character-based lending that looks at individual circumstances that people can control, like paying rent and bills on time. “It’s going back to the old way of doing lending,” he says. “She could afford the payment.”

READ MORE: NIGERIA’II BE LARGEST BENEFICIARY OF AFCFTA- IMF TELLS BUAHRI

Even if you aren’t in the same situation as Douglas, shopping around beyond mainstream banks can find you a better deal.

2. Find out if you qualify to for a grant to help with a downpayment.

If you are a first-time home-buyer — or haven’t owned a home for at least a few years — you might qualify for a government grant for what’s called down-payment assistance, which can mean borrowing less on your mortgage.

Bruce Marks, founder and CEO of a nationwide lender called the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) says check with your state housing finance agency to ask about assistance programs.

“There’s a lot of grant money around for downpayment and closing costs,” Marks says. “You can get up to $20,000 to $25,000 in Boston, and up to $20,00 in California. They’re doing $40,000, $50,000, and sometimes more.”

3. Get preapproved for a mortgage before you start shopping for a house.

Pre-approval will tell you how much a lender is willing to lend to you, and forces realtors to take you seriously.

4. If you can afford it, get a 15-year mortgage. You will build wealth much more quickly than with a 30-year mortgage.

Check out the chart. After 10 years of paying for your house, you could have $121,000 worth of ownership built up — or you could have only $42,000, a huge difference.

A 15-year mortgage also means paying less in interest — $50,000 as opposed to $74,000 — over those 10 years. That means each dollar you pay on the 15-year mortgage is doing about three times more work for your wealth.

5. Remember that adjustable-rate loans are risky.

Payments on an adjustable-rate loan may start out small, but will fluctuate with the market and could cost much more in the long run than a fix-rate loan. Think of a fixed-rate loan as reliable car that will get you where you’re going. An adjustable is more like a used car — cheaper, but breakdowns will cost you more money and worry in the long run.

6. Shop around to see if you can avoid paying for private mortgage insurance, or PMI.

Mortgage insurance protects the bank in case the buyer foreclose on your loan, and it’s often required for buyers who make less than at 20 percent down payment on their home. It can add hundreds to your monthly payments.

Mortgage

If a lender says they have to charge you PMI, you might be able to find a credit union or other lender who will offer the same loan but not charge the mortgage insurance. For example, NACA doesn’t charge mortgage insurance. Marks also suggests something called wealth builder loans, which have a 15 or 20-year term and don’t charge insurance.

“The best mortgage that you’ve never heard of is the wealth builder 15-year mortgage,” Marks says. “If you can afford the payments, you need to do that. Build equity really quickly.”

7. Don’t let the dreaded HELOC monster — home equity line of credit — eat your home equity.

A HELOC is a second loan that uses your home as collateral, once you’ve built up equity in the house. Many people use them to finance home repair or improvements. But too many use them as a piggy bank to pay off credit cards or buy a car, putting their home equity at risk.

NPR

Nigeria’ll be largest beneficiary of AfCFTA –IMF tells Buhari

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decried the Federal Government’s lethargic disposition toward signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), stressing  that the country would be the largest beneficiary of market integration on the continent. 

The Fund said the gains of joining the cartel far outweighs the fears currently being nursed by the country.

IMF

Director of African Department at IMF, Abebe Aemro Salessie, who spoke on the sidelines of the ongoing Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, in Washington DC, told Daily Sun that given the size of the Nigerian economy and the strength of its entrepreneurs, it has no reason to fear competition under an AfCFTA regime.

READ MORE: MORTGAGE SECRETS THAT WILL SAVE YOUR MONEY

“From our perspective, we think that the AfCFTA will help the region integrate; it’s been the dream of our leaders dating back to independence days and we think that it’s a very important initiative. And beyond politics, it will have a positive impact economically on the continent,” he said.

Abebe noted that like all trade agreements and  integration measures, there can be adverse effects which can be identified with policies introduced to address them. 

“We have to look at the big picture. Coming to Nigeria specifically, we think that Nigeria will also benefit as the largest economy from joining the AfCTA and being a full participant of that. In my view, looking at how dynamic Nigeria is and looking at the business people you have, the wealth of talent and entrepreneurs that you have, I don’t think you have to fear anybody else in terms of competition.

IMF

President Muhammadu Buhari had on October 22, 2018, inaugurated a Presidential Committee on Impact and Readiness Assessment on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. But the final report of the committee is still being awaited, even though many argue that time was already running out for Nigeria with respect to the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA was launched in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018 with the aim of creating a single African market ,  free movement of persons and a common currency Union. Already 52 countries have signed the agreement, while 18 of them have ratified, although Nigeria remains one of the three African nations yet to endorse the scheme.

Since last year, negotiations have continued among the various nations with Phase II of the project including Competition Policy, Investment and Intellectual Property Rights. A draft shall be submitted for the January 2020 AU Assembly.

Amechi Ogbonna

Exploring Ways to End Homelessness

Maybe it was the rash of recent news on people becoming homeless, or maybe it was seeing people obviously homeless and camping in their cars or drifting around town that got to me. Maybe it was seeing that worn, young bag lady walking to nowhere special, a droopy bag of belongings tossed over her shoulder.

Or maybe it was the TV spot of a father moved to tears as he expressed his gratitude to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for getting his family into an affordable small home, something he never thought would happen.

Not one, but the combination of triggers worked on me along with the emotionally-charged fact that I, myself, had faced the fact of becoming homeless not once, but twice. I lay sleepless.

Homeless

Images played unbidden on the inner screen of my mind — not only of the various types of dwellings human beings have developed in various cultures around the world and through time, but the humans that developed and built those differing habitats themselves.

READ ALSO: BUY TO LET MORTGAGES

• Caves: The first safe dwellings, to be sure. I recalled reading “Clan of the Cave Bear” and suffering along with Ayla, who didn’t fit with her rescuers in the monkey-like tribe. Also, my first visit walking into the gaping maw of the Ha‘ena dry cave, which I later learned sheltered the first Kauai fishermen who came from other parts of the island to camp in now-hidden upper chambers within it. My mind skipped on to the Maha‘ulepu “cave” when I first saw it after ducking through a dark entry tunnel with a skull-bonking protrusion to be avoided at all costs, and before the special archaeological digs and protections now in place. There were my more recent memories of the amazing, ancient sandstone clefts of Jordan’s Petra, both manmade and naturally formed.

• Castles: These are part of every person’s inner kid imaginings, whether “fairy” or Disney-style imaginings, or defined by ramparts and knights of old, such as my oldest son played with (a Sears Christmas gift) for countless hours.

• Sumptuous tents of Araby: Inner visions bloomed of sumptuous Persian carpets, skinny minarets and silken draperies — Ali Baba-type settings.

• Indian “daks” or godowns: Small, roughly constructed dwellings to which servants retired to eat and sleep from the bungalows of my youth.

• Igloos: I wondered as a school kid how anyone slept on an ice-shelf bed, furry robes or not. And how did the Eskimos cut those great blocks of ice and manage to sculpt them to fit into a curved shape?

• Stilt homes: All through Asia, these protect from flooding, insects and wild animals. Their sloped roofs channel off the rain.

• Yurts: My fifth-grade Junior Scholastic implied that the lives of Mongolian nomads centered around a home fashioned of hides and poles. How did the mothers feel about pulling up stakes to move so often, and how did they find time to embroider and fashion the prayer cloth hangings?

• Teepees, wigwams, hogans: I held the same questions for the North American tribes, and when did their girls and women get any privacy, and how did they store their beading and hide-sewing supplies without plastic boxes and compartmental “keepers”?

• Hale: Visualizing the thatched dwellings of Polynesian cultures. I once said such would be my dream house — if it were situated with a view of the ocean on golden sand under coconut palms (AND allowed me to hook up to a modem and Wi-Fi!). Now, after experiencing recent heavy, driving rains in “paradise” and remembering Hurricane ‘Iniki, I’ve rethought that idea.

The house a human calls home becomes part of that individual’s foundation, leading to the impact of the phrase “home, sweet home.” There comes a point in a life when backpacking and caravanning end, where one decides to plant one’s self and perhaps some trees and vegetables, and create a safe haven in which to raise a family.

Homeless

Toddlers show the importance of home in some of their first drawings when, in our culture, the stick figures identified as mommy and daddy and self are shown with a dominant house. Sometimes this house has a door and windows; sometimes, a chimney and/or flowers. No matter the variations, the house looms, showing its importance as “home.” To be homeless erodes this foundational feeling of stability.

So, whether it’s an igloo, hut, hovel or mansion, or underground “oasis” house of Coober Pedy, Australia, or a rondavel of Lesotho, South Africa, what matters is that one may call it home.

Homelessness on our island is not just about people who are down and out, people who may or may not choose to enter another level of society. Responsible people who do work hard and earn decent wages are going homeless.

The crisis at hand centers on not having enough truly affordable home properties and rentals available to our full-time residents. It’s a fact that Kauai people cannot easily find affordable housing, that the inflated housing costs and jacked-up rents are causing even good earners to join the ranks of the homeless.

It’s dishonest to permit and label dwellings “affordable” that are, in fact, not so, or fall out of that category back to market price within 10 years. It’s not enough to discount permitting costs for home additions.

Dawn Fraser Kawahara

Buy To Let Mortgages

As far as investments go, property is one of the safer bets. Buying a house to let out can be a safe and profitable way to put spare cash to use, and a good way of expanding your assets. While some approach letting as a purely commercial exercise, parents may also buy a place for their children, which they then charge them rent for. This can be seen as investment in both your and your family’s future.

Mortgages available for letting property used to be subject to higher rates of interest than standard residential mortgages, but in recent years this has changed. In an active attempt to encourage growth in the private rental sector of the market, interest rates have been lowered and criteria made more flexible. This led to a boost in the amount of properties being bought as income-producing investments.

READ MORE: CHELLERAMS’ WORKERS RECEIVE HOME RENOVATION FUNDS FROM FMBN

Mortgages

The rent you charge, as a rule of thumb, should be around 150% of your monthly mortgage repayments. This should cover all the associated expenses – while letting can prove profitable you should take into account the time and cost involved. Not only will you need to find and purchase suitable property, but you will have to manage it well, whether this means maintenance, furnishing or advertising. An agent can take care of some of these tasks, but bear in mind you will have to pay their fees. Generally, you should think of buying to let as a medium or long term investment.

You should always make sure that a professional agent or solicitor draws up leases and agreements. While you can buy ‘readymade’ leases, these are not comprehensive enough to rely on. Remember too to include an inventory of all furnishings and fittings in the property.

Other costs to consider are: Insurance – both buildings and contents, plus you may want to take out rental protection in case a tenant fails to pay. Service charges and maintenance costs – try to ensure the property will require the minimum of upkeep and repairs.

Boctrust

N3.7bn Zuba Mass Housing ready by August – FG

The first phase of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Zuba Mass Housing Scheme project which began nine months ago will be commissioned in August this year.

The Managing Director of FHA, Prof. Muhammad Al-Amin, announced this during a recent inspection of projects in Abuja by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola. He said N3.7bn had been committed so far into the Zuba housing project.

The project in Zuba is a 764-unit of houses and is expected to be delivered to the masses by August.

Housing

The projects are among many others by the Federal Government spread across the country to deliver affordable houses to Nigerians.

Speaking with newsmen after the inspection of the projects, Mr. Fashola pointed out that the three sites represented the different ways government was addressing housing development in the country.

The minister, who said the FHA had not compromised on quality, noted that the project was the first set of buildings the FHA embarked on under the present dispensation, assuring that the ongoing projects would meet global minimum competitive housing standards for pricing when they were finished.

“They are not luxury apartments as you can see; they are mass housing projects, 764 of them, two and one-bedroom flats,” he said, adding that the aim of government was to get what would fit into the pocket of the ordinary man who “President Buhari and the Nigerian Government are very determined to reach.”

“It will meet those standards of safety; it will meet those standards of protection from water, wind and flooding. It will be efficient, but it is not luxury. You can now create your own luxury as you furnish, but it will meet the global minimum competitive standards for public housing in terms of quality and in terms of finishing,” he assured.

Fashola expressed satisfaction with the quality of work at the site, as well as the employment opportunities it provided, saying, “I met some carpenters who were helping to prepare the form work for houses on this site and they said they didn’t have work; they were roadside carpenters before, but the site provided opportunity for them to get work; which is what government wants to achieve; to use housing to stimulate employment.”

Fashola added that the report available to him showed that the site alone had employed 10,000 persons: builders, welders, suppliers and so on, and that there was assurance that employment would still continue as the houses reached the fitting and painting stages as “there is still a lot of work to be done.”

The minister explained that the type of buildings at the site were the condominium variety, different from the bungalows that most Nigerians were used to, expressing delight that many people had been afforded opportunity to work at different levels: supply of building materials; granite, cement, laterite, water and so on, adding that, “This is the construction ecosystem that we want to see across the country.”

Also speaking to newsmen, the Managing Director of FHA, Prof. Muhammad Al-Amin, said, “We have also taken measures that the end users of this projects are common Nigerians, as we are encouraging all sorts of groups to form housing cooperatives as it will help during housing allocations, and we are ensuring that it is those common Nigerians that are yarning for accommodation that will benefit from these projects and that is why we chose this location for this project. It is not in Maitama or Asokoro.”

Some workers and support staff at the site expressed joy over the project, saying it had helped a lot of unemployed people to return to work and help their families.

Housing

An engineer at the site, Kunle, said those who had no jobs, such as masons, carpenters and iron benders, were now busy doing something and earning a living.

A security man, Jacob Danladi, said, “We appreciate this government. I am very happy with the government over this project. I was employed last year. I want the project to continue because it is helping a lot of people.”

Another artisan who gave his name as Peter, expressed delight that he now had a job to help himself and his family, and therefore, urged government not stop the project “because it is helping us.”

Rosemary, a food vendor, described the project as people-oriented in terms of the opportunities it has afforded people to get jobs.

She said, “This project is very nice, everybody is working; I am doing business; selling food here to help workers. I make money to take care of my children. I am happy with the project going on here. God has already blessed this government. I only pray that they continue because they are helping me in my business.”

Malikatu Umar Shuaibu

Housing Expert Speaks on How to Solve Housing Deficit in Nigeria

Lookman Oshodi is the Project Director, Arctic Infrastructure and member of the technical committee for 2018 Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation. In this interview with BERTRAM NWANNEKANMA, he gives an insight on the way out of the housing problems bedeviling the country.
What do you consider as the best approach in tackling the nation’s housing deficits? 
The first step is for the states to key into the existing housing policy of the Federal Government and make adjustments to reflect their own priorities in housing. Capacity building across the board is very important to understanding the dynamics of housing in Nigeria. For instance, while Gombe State may not necessarily set housing as its top most agenda, Ogun State needs the understanding that by virtue of its location, it stands to produce the most viable, accessible and large scale housing market not just in Nigeria but the entire West African sub region. Many states require the involvement of local governments to play active roles in housing delivery process.In the area of funding, a number of initiatives are coming up to make funding accessible, but currently they are disconnected from one another. There is also the need for that cohesive approach that will bring all funding initiatives together and sensitise them to housing providers in Nigeria on the ease of accessibility and the benefits.What roles can infrastructure play in addressing the nation’s housing deficits? 
The success of any housing system rests majorly on the supporting infrastructure. Housing will remain inadequate qualitatively and quantitatively, if infrastructure is absent. Over the years, the deficit quantum of housing in Nigeria has remained stagnated at between 17 to 20 million, depending on where you are getting the figure. This could be more because majority of housing available lacked critical adequate housing indicator and infrastructure.

A well-developed infrastructure, comprising good transportation system, water and sanitation, energy, healthcare, education and connecting technology among others will attract tremendous investments into the housing sector. It reduces the production cost of housing, increases supply of units, improves land value around housing, creates better physical and economic accessibility for the beneficiaries, improves social and environmental quality of Nigerians and improves the nation’s prosperity index. If well conceptualized, planned, executed and delivered, infrastructure is a backbone of reducing housing deficit in Nigeria.

According to a survey, Nigeria needs about N10.63tn ($67bn) to tackle infrastructure gap. What role should private sector play in meeting the huge financial outlay? 
The private sector has significant role to play in attracting funding for Nigerian infrastructure needs. In any infrastructure investment market, private sector possesses ability to navigate the complex market and rapid turnaround period. Whether on or off the investment road show, private sector has comparable advantage in attracting infrastructure funding, especially when funding partners are gradually realising that state led infrastructure in many cities in Sub Saharan Africa are not fully yielding the desired results.

In Nigeria, the private sector had made huge funding commitment to infrastructure development. Majority of housing in Nigeria are the products of private capital, the fledging energy sector currently relies on funding from the private sector while infrastructure for tax model is being introduced in the road sector. All these are considerable history of private sector financing of infrastructure and pointer of interest to make further contributions.

However, for private sector to make effective contributions, government must play substantial enabling role and create accountability platform that will draw private sector funding. At this stage, the Nigeria needs to be very clear on the type of economic model it wants to pursue, social, capitalism or clear hybrid system. A bit of social, welfare, capital and communal models without concrete loop end leading to the multiple mis-interpretation on the part of state actors, inconsistencies, policy somersaults, nepotism and obscured transparency in infrastructure procurement process are all inimical to private sector interests. They are doing substantial damage to the private sector contributions in bridging the infrastructure gap.

Do you think the present administration’s housing policy can bring about solution to homelessness in the country? 
To measure the sustainable solutions on housing of any country in the world, the first indicator is the housing situation in about five flagship cities. Observations in these five cities can give valid opinion on the success or otherwise of the housing delivery structure. In Nigeria, housing situation in Lagos and Abuja will readily come to mind. Then, situation in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kano, Kaduna and Ibadan can provide answers to the assessment of the present administration’s housing policy.

The administration is doing its best within the complex housing environment, but there are still milestones for us to cover as a nation. However, housing question in Nigeria is a resolvable dilemma if we set our priorities right and address the fundamental issues.

Which areas would you want to see improvement? 
I am not sure if the merging of housing ministry with works and power ministry is translating to housing for many Nigerians. I am yet to see quality housing for people of Ajegunle or Okokomaiko in Lagos and residents of Dutse-Alhaji and Jikwoyi in Abuja. Land accessibility, as also acknowledged by the Minister, is a major obstacle that the administration needs to improve upon. A lot of reforms are being executed in the housing finance sector but they need to be cohesive from the present silos framework. Sustainable building materials require further attention while capacity improvement at all levels of manpower should be strengthened.

The new trend now in the housing industry is smart homes. How can developers embrace the new technology associated with it? 
The smart home concept is growing in Nigeria among new homes coming to the market. Although, the rate of retrofitting at individual’s level is not too clear, but the trend is largely common in high and medium income communities. Homes in the low -income communities are making sporadic investments in procuring one form of smart home equipment or the other.

Smart home is fast emerging in the country but scope of adoption is still being limited because of broader environment restriction. The concept of smart home becomes seamless and rewarding if there is interoperability with city smart response system such as security, emergency, utility and supplies. How many cities are smart enough to encourage internet of things with various homes?

Smart homes functioning relies on regular energy, internet connection and equipment batteries. Energy supplies in Nigerian cities are too low while it is a considerable challenge to access internet in many cities outside Lagos, Abuja and few other cities. Take notice that basic pre-paid electricity meters that measure households’ consumption on the utility is still intractable. The infrastructure gap in the housing sector is imposing limitations on the full -scale deployment of smart homes, but the market is optimistic with investment opportunities.

The Land Use Act amendment has been stalled. Is it possible to do away with the Act without its amendment? How? 
At present, we cannot do away with the Act since it is a substantive national law, which every citizen must comply with. The act has its both advantages and disadvantages but one thing that is clear is that the act has encouraged multiplication of slums and spread of informal settlements in Nigerian urban centres. Sometime, you may not need elaborate lobbying or conferences to highlight the deficiencies of certain system. The obvious outcomes of such system should be compelling for policy makers to initiate changes. Many citizens have been consciously confined to the realm of informalities because of the provisions and implementation of the Act.

In this case of Land Use Act, it is ideal for states to begin creative ways of working around the Act in making formal land accessible to their residents. Ogun State Home Charter programme is making progress in expanding access to formal land holding while some other states too are working under the framework of Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reform to expand formal accessibility. In any case, it must be noted that the revision and amendment of the Land Use Act is long overdue.

Rural to urban migration has continued to increase, do you think we need a National Urban and Regional Planning agency to give direction to the development process? 
A process without a direction will find it extremely difficult to achieve any meaningful success. Setting any urban agenda without a coordinating institution means clear direction is lacking for the agenda. Hence, the necessity to have agency to coordinate development services and strengthen resiliency in Nigerian urban centres. Lack of these institutions in many states in Nigeria is evidenced in the chaotic and unplanned situations we are seeing in many urban areas.

What role will such agency play in ensuring integrated housing programme?
Such agency, if established in a state can initiate and set housing agenda for the state. The agency will set policies, and standard for housing development and where possible provides a platform for multi-stakeholder, public, private and community to come together and deliver housing system that can reflect the aspirations of each state.

There have been calls for a virile physical development management institution to ensure proper urban development. How feasible is this? 
Setting up a development management agency could be challenging when a state looks at the initial cost outlay of the system. Cost in this case will include start-up cost for accommodation, equipment and other logistics. Also, the medium to long term operational costs play major roles. However, the cost outlay brings huge returns to the state because it facilitates both local and foreign investment opportunities, improves the livability index of the residents and becomes a bridge to bring many residents into formal economic structure of the state, including taxation.

In ensuring the feasibility of having the agency, the state needs to be creative in engaging partners. especially in the private sector and restructure some elements of cost recovery mechanism in the development services. For the agency to be sustainable and perform its functions effectively, the State leadership needs to shield it from undue political interference.

Guradianng

Chellerams’ Workers Receive Home Renovation Funds from FMBN

The Managing Director of FMBN, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa, said the fund would empower the beneficiaries to put their homes in a better condition, adding that the bank’s target was to ensure many Nigerians had suitable houses to live in.

The 14 beneficiaries were given N1m each, which Dangiwa said was part of efforts by the bank to complement President Muhammadu Buhari’s housing sector reforms.

Dangiwa, who was represented by FMBN Zonal Coordinator, Lagos, Mr  Abiodun Fashina, said the bank would continue to keep its promise on homeownership to Nigerians.

He said, “FMBN has a mandate to provide affordable mortgages to Nigerian workers particularly low and medium income earners though the National Housing Fund scheme. The Fund is sourced from 2.5 per cent of the basic income of Nigerian workers earning the minimum wage and who are 18 years and above.

“The overall objective is to provide cheap source of loanable funds to nurture and sustain the mortgage industry and eventually facilitate affordable homeownership for the low and medium income group in the country.”

According to him, section 14(2) of the National Housing Fund Act Cap N.45 of 1992 stipulates that a contributor to the NHF can access loan from the Fund for the purpose of building, purchasing or renovating of existing houses.

“In order to achieve this, FMBN has developed concessionary loan windows to enable Nigerians access mortgages for home ownership,” he said.

He added that about N21.6bn had so far been disbursed by the bank to 26,275 beneficiaries across the country under the Home Renovation Loan window.

He, however, stated that the realisation of the mandate had been hampered by several challenges in the country including lack of access to land, among others.

“Inadequate funding for the housing sector, inaccessibility of mortgage loans due to lack of proper title to landed properties. Others are low income of prospective borrowers which affects affordability, cumbersome procedures for obtaining Governor’s consent to land transactions which is also costly,” he said.

The State Coordinator, Apapa office of the FMBN, Lagos, Mrs Okoli Uche, urged the beneficiaries to ensure the loans were used on the primary purposes they were given out.

Okoli advised Nigerians who were yet to get their personal homes to key into the ‘Rent to Own’ housing window initiated by the bank, adding that it would enable them to access a house and pay for maximum of 15  years before becoming the owner.

The Chief Executive Officer of Chellerams Plc, Mr Aditya Chellaram, said the gesture was a demonstration of the company’s unique concern for the welfare of its staff through partnerships and collaborations that would address their housing need.

100, 000 Persons Set to Receive Support from Pertinence in Real Estate

Real estate development firm, Pertinence Limited, says it plans to empower about 100, 000 people in real estate business and other money-making ventures in the next 10 years.

The firm said it had commenced the process through its ‘Zero to Hero’ platform, which it initiated about three years ago.

According to the Executive Director of Pertinence Limited, Mr Sunday Olorunseyi, ‘Zero to Hero’ is a quarterly programme and an avenue for aspiring entrepreneurs to learn and earn, leveraging on the platform of a real estate company which gives them an opportunity to be mentored by the management of the company.

Olorunseyi said it also offered an opportunity to join a fast growing team of millionaires working as a network in Pertinence Limited.

He said, “When we started ‘Zero to Hero’, it was to share our story and those of people whose lives have been transformed through our platform. When you share stories, people can relate with it. The second reason is to empower people.

“In 10 years of doing business, we should be able to empower not less than 100, 000 Nigerians. The journey is still very far, we have done 5,000 so far, so we still have over 95, 000 to go and we are in our third year; we are doing our best to achieve that.”

He said the ultimate goal would be to empower about one million people in phases.

The second Executive Director of Pertinence Limited, Mr Wisdom Ezekiel, said the management of the company discovered that people were inspired each time they heard the story of how the company began, and decided to create a platform to empower and encourage people to create their own success stories.

He said, “We discovered that a lot of people come to ‘Zero to Hero’ to hear our stories and get inspired so we decided to add some guidelines on things they can do so they can practice the principles behind the story.

“This year, we have also introduced the hall of fame to encourage people to do better. We did an increase and factored it in the commission of our marketers across board. So we introduced the hall of fame to celebrate our most productive marketers.”

At the 2019 first quarter ‘Zero to Hero’ conference, Benita Charles was inducted into the Pertinence hall of fame as the first beneficiary of the initiative.

Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

Architects To Advise Lagos on How to Review Urban Plan

The Nigerian Institute of Architects stated that the processes, through which the city would become a smart and resilient city where things work for all, would form the basis for discussions at this year’s Lagos Architects Forum.

The Chairman, NIA, Lagos Chapter, Mr Fitzgerald Umah, said the forum would focus on Lagos urban re-generational plans and new opportunities; values and positioning for architecture; rethinking going global and new directions for building materials technology among other issues.

Umah said the ‘LAGOS 10.0 – An Architectural Regeneration 2: The Lagos Response’ scheduled to hold  May 8 to 11, would consolidate on the gains of the 2018 forum.

“This year marks the 10th anniversary of the increasingly popular international conference and the three-day event will devise new ways of running practices and boosting stakeholders’ engagement and adaptation to local economies,” he said.

Umah said there would also be a focus on building collapse in Lagos, adding that most of the distressed buildings were collapsing from the base structures where the service of professionals were not engaged before raising new super-structures on them.

While calling on the Nigerian populace to engage the right building professionals in each phase of the design and construction process, he said the chapter had been working with the Lagos State Government to ensure that the action documents handed to the state during past LAFs were properly adopted to stem the tide of building collapse.

He said the forum, through its ‘Lagos Home Design Competition 2019’ “would also come up with prototype designs which would lead to the creation of an utopian community that would make houses more affordable to people in the society.

The General Secretary, NIA, Lagos Chapter, Mr Abiodun Fatuyi, said the forum would also feature ideas competition organised through a partnership between Sterling Bank Plc and the Lagos Architects Forum, to discover innovative designs that would drive adequate policy plans on affordable housing in Lagos.

Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

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