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How The Government Can Incentivize First-Time Buyers

Many people in the U.K. can’t afford to buy a house. And avocado toast usually isn’t to blame.

The number of young people owning a home in England has decreased to 38%, down from 55% in 2009, and up to a third of millennials (the so-called ‘Generation Rent’) face a lifetime of renting. This situation is hardly surprising when a house in modern Britain costs roughly 121 times as much as it did in the early 1950s.

This issue has been fermenting for decades; and left unnoticed, most industry experts agree that the problem is likely to get worse. Britain has arising population and a penchant for households with fewer people, both of which means demand for housing will keep on rising.

So, what can the government possibly do to correct things?

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Green belt

One answer that often arises in discussions like these is that the country should be opening green belt land to housing development. There’s a reasonable argument to be made for this.

First introduced for London in 1938 and rolled out to England in 1955, green belt-designated land has remained relatively untouched while real incomes have tripled and demand for housing has grown dramatically.

Since supply has been rationed, land prices have increased, and this, in turn, has had a knock-on effect on house prices. 70% of the cost of building new houses is the purchase of the land (up from 25% in the late 1950s).

As proponents of opening the green belt for development argue, correcting this undersupply of land wouldn’t require widespread destruction of natural environments; you would only need a small fraction of it to satisfy housing supply.

But as critics argue, there’s always a risk of going too far. The government certainly shouldn’t permit building everywhere, and planning will be needed to preserve environmentally valuable land and lots of space for recreation. Just as importantly, local authorities need to be incentivized to make this all happen.

Housing density

One approach to bolster supply without sacrificing green space involves changing population densities – but again, incentivizing for high-density construction is a tricky challenge.

More-frequent use of density bonuses is one possible solution, which would allow developers to build more densely than under normal circumstances in exchange for providing some kind of public good, such as affordable housing. This would enable developers to build additional units and increase profit, while also increasing density.

Making wider use of inclusionary zoning policies – which require new units to include a certain number of affordable homes, as part of the development approval process – would complement this. Inclusionary zoning ensures that first-time buyers, who are often pushed outside of well-serviced dense urban areas, can afford to live inside popular U.K. cities.

Higher densities don’t necessarily mean unsightly high-rises. Medium-rise, higher-density buildings (in the region of 3–4 storeys) are said to provide the maximized density while negating a feeling of overcrowding and can be designed to be attractive and energy efficient.

A different kind of tax

Much like the green belt, council tax hasn’t changed since its introduction in 1993. As the Resolution Foundation thinktank explains, the tax is poorly correlated with the value of property and has not responded to changes in house prices. The original council tax bands – using 1991 valuations – have never been changed.

Land value tax, a policy of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, may be one way forward. It’s a tax, not on the value of property, but on the land on which it would be built.

Not only does this have the potential to raise significant revenue, but it also serves a stimulus for positive behaviours in the market. As opposed to property tax, it doesn’t discourage people from improving their home. It disadvantages those with idle properties as well as speculators, and in and of itself, goes some way towards encouraging higher-density construction.

Changing the construction strategy

To accommodate for the current crop of young buyers priced out of the market, new houses not only need to be built with density in mind; they also need to be built quickly, and at scale . It’s difficult to see how this could happen with the way we build currently.

Offsite and modular construction must increasingly be part of the picture, with designs that respect the local architecture. Projects need not be exclusively focused on London; extending commuter towns and other big cities like Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester would be a sensible way forward.

Although most construction activity could come from the private sector, public-sector construction shouldn’t be dismissed outright. When the U.K. last built more than a million homes, Clement Atlee’s post-war Labour government was in power, and there was a massive council housing programme underway. Social housebuilding may need to play a part if we are going to achieve this output again.

Conclusion

Incentivizing first-time buyers through discounts for first-time property purchases is a short-term fix to a long-term problem. Rather than subsidising buyers, we need ways to encourage supply. To help first-time buyers, we need to address the root cause – supply – and not just the surface level problem – price.

Disparate parties will need to work together to make this a reality: homeowners want to protect their house prices; builders want to work to a budget and for a profit. Other public bodies will have their own agendas and budgets. But to really benefit first-time buyers, everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn book.

One thing is certain: initiatives currently in place aren’t having the impact they should, and for the benefit of the wider economy, we need action now

Source: Forbes

How Technology Is Changing The Real Estate Market

Residential real estate, particularly the rental sector, has been notably slow to experience the same radical disruption that many other industries have seen with the digital age (e.g. retail, finance, transportation). Companies like Zillow and Redfin have democratized MLS listings and the home search process, but the way we buy and rent homes is still fundamentally the same as it always has been.

This has a lot to do with the fact that real estate is such a capital-intensive industry. It’s much harder to remove friction from a process that’s much more complicated (and has bigger stakes) than, say, ride-sharing.

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I do think that’s going to change in the next five to ten years. Companies like OpenDoor are streamlining and digitizing the home-buying process in a way that we haven’t seen before, and Bungalow is leveraging technology to eliminate nearly all of the headaches of the rental experience for both homeowners and renters.

Residential real estate is going to catch up to other consumer experiences that we’ve become accustomed to in the 21st century, which is a good thing for all of us.

One important point, however, is that technology alone isn’t going to make a dent in the bigger issues surrounding housing in this country. It’s far more complicated than creating a great platform or a great app. We need innovative solutions that create more affordable housing stock.

My hope is that as Bungalow grows, we’re able to help keep cities affordable for early career professionals (and beyond). Tech is an important piece of that, and we’re excited about how emerging innovations can make the experience even better (e.g. using AI to help people find compatible roommates). But it’s not the whole picture.

Source: Forbes

Malaysia: Incentives for the property market in March 2019

Governments play an important role in any property market because they act as influencers.

When the market gets too hot, cooling measures will be introduced to protect it from bursting. When market is lacklustre, the government needs to introduce stimulus and incentives to make it vibrant again.

Malaysia has announced the stamp duty exemption for all purchases made during the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) 2019.

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The jury is still out on whether this will be enough for a market with a negative sentiment.

According to Asian Correspondent, FIABCI Malaysia’s president, Michael Geh talked about the potential for new stimulus and incentives in March 2019.

Geh said the current property downturn in Malaysia could be reversed once the newly-created National Housing Policy takes effect and when implementors announce their findings and recommendations.

He said, “There will be announcements of affordable housing, actions by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to stimulate the market and other incentives that are still under discussion between the industry and the government.”

He added that BNM, the Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Finance Ministry were holding regular engagements to come up with “goodies” for the industry and home buyers.

Furthermore, the Asian Correspondent quoted him as saying that the new government was taking extraordinary steps in a tenacious manner that will help spur both the primary and secondary market of the property industry this year.

There will be an expo for unsold properties in March 2019 where over 20,000 unsold units will be sold at a discounted price of 10% or more.

In the meantime, if you are thinking of buying a property, it’s best to start evaluating.

Comparing and determining what’s needed versus what the majority thinks, will be vital to buying the right property.

The government will do more as and when needed because a subdued and negative market is not good and not what the government wants.

Source: FMT

Presidential Poll: Nigeria stock market loses N85bn in six hours

The market capitalisation of listed equities on Tuesday shed N85 billion in six hours of trading to what traders attributed to profit taking as a result of the presidential poll.

Specifically, the market capitalisation, which opened at N12.194 trillion, shed N85 billion or 0.69 per cent to close at N12.109 trillion.

Also, the All-Share Index lost 226.30 points or 0.69 per cent to close at 32,473.82, compared with 32,700.12 recorded on Monday.

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Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., attributed the market pullback to profit taking embarked by some smart investors.

Mr Omordion said the smart money that pushed the market up with expectations that the opposition would win the presidential election were leaving the market.

He said some investors who entered the market in anticipation that the opposition economic policy and reforms would support market growth were taking profit ahead of earnings season.

“This pullback may not last as a result of 2019 dividend declaration season as dividend yield of financial service stocks are high and attractive due to low prices,” Mr Omordion stated.

Nestle dominated the losers’ chart, dropping by N70 to close at N1,510 per share.

Union Bank of Nigeria trailed with a loss of 60k to close at N6.65, while FBN Holdings was down by 30k to close at N8 per share.

Conversely, Guinness led the gainers’ table during the day, gaining N2.05 to close at N67.15 per share.

Dangote Flour followed with a gain of N1 to close at N12.05, while Oando gained 65k to close at N7.25 per share.

Air Services added 60k to close at N7.05, while Africa Prudential increased by 44k to close at N4.84 per share.

A breakdown of the activity chart indicates that the volume of shares traded rose by 46.57 per cent with an exchange of 322.18 million shares worth N2.43 billion in 4,066 deals.

This was against 219.81 million shares valued at N5.55 billion transacted in 2,999 deals on Monday.

Sunu Assurances recorded the highest volume of activity, trading 50.81 million shares worth N10.16 million.

Access Bank traded 32.30 million shares valued at N203.09 million, while Diamond Bank sold 28.60 million shares worth N70.10 million.

United Bank for Africa accounted for 19.02 million shares valued at N153.66 million, while Guaranty Trust Bank sold 17.77 million shares worth N677.66 million.

Affordable Housing: What South Africa Needs

The overarching definition used by Future Cape Town, a platform in Africa promoting democracy in the future of cities, is housing units that are affordable to a section of society whose income is below the neighbourhood’s median or average household income.

“However,” says Future Cape Town Director, Rashiq Fataar, “affordable housing comprises various types of housing.”

The four affordable housing types found in government policy, local government developments and some of the national government frameworks around human settlements are: gap, transitional, social and inclusionary.

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1. Gap housing

In order for South Africa’s cities to truly become inclusive, integrated and transformed, affordable housing in urban areas needs to not only cater for lower-income earners, but must also incorporate the middle-income market, says Sendin.

The City of Cape Town defines gap housing as subsidies and products provided by government and financial institutions to enable households with a monthly income of between R3 500 and R20 000 to purchase property.

2. Transitional housing

According to the City, transitional housing is temporary housing afforded to individuals and households which helps them prepare to transition to more permanent options. It is recognised that, because of the shortage of alternatives for low-income households, some are likely to remain on a semi-permanent basis.

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3. Social housing

The City describes social housing as state-subsidised rental housing for households with a monthly income of less than R15,000 that is developed and operated by an accredited social housing company or institution otherwise known as SHIs.

4. Inclusionary housing

Future Cape Town’s explanation of inclusionary housing is that it is housing developed by the private sector for a market that would not have had access to the development or the area within which the development takes place.

National and local government have admitted that they lack the resources to tackle the country’s housing issues alone, which possibly makes inclusionary housing the most viable option. One way that developers are able to contribute, whilst still ensuring the profitability of their projects, is through securing additional development rights from the city for free.

“Inclusionary zoning is a basic intervention used by top cities around the world to ensure that private developers build a fair amount of truly affordable housing in exchange for additional development rights,” says Julian Sendin, a Senior Researcher at Ndifuna Ukwazi, an activist organisation and law centre working to advance urban land justice.

Up until recently, social housing was seen as the only way to retain housing units as affordable in perpetuity. However, inclusionary housing might provide a better alternative as these homes are purchased and not merely rented, thus promoting ownership.

In order for South Africa’s cities to truly become inclusive, integrated and transformed, affordable housing in urban areas needs to not only cater for lower-income earners, but must also incorporate the middle-income market (earning between R15 000 to R45 000), who are also unable to afford to live in well-located urban areas. Doing so will ensure that more people from a mix of income brackets benefit from urban opportunities.

Source: Property24

Fire destroys INEC office in Imo

The Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) office in Isiala Mbano, Imo North, was on Monday gutted by fire, destroying INEC materials and some infrastructure, the newsmen report.

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The cause of the fire which happened is yet to be ascertained. When contacted the INEC Public Relations Officer, Mrs Emmanuella Ben-Opara, she confirmed the incident and described it as very unfortunate.

The PRO explained that the staff was shocked to learn of the incident, adding that elections took place in the area without any record of violence or crisis. “Election took place in this place on Saturday and there was no record of any problem.

The people that did this did not tell us what their grievances were. “As at now, the commission in Imo is burdened with announcement of election results which we must finish before we start looking into the remote cause of the incident,’’ she said.

Asked if she could estimate the damage, Ben-Opara said it would be looked into at the end of declaration of the results in the state. The Police Public Relations Officer in Imo State Command DSP, Orlando Ikeokwu, said the command was yet to be briefed on the incident.

Property firm considers setting up mortgage bank for increased access to housing

Worried that a good number of Nigerians still find it difficult to access mortgage facility to enable them buy or build their own houses, Pertinence Properties, an investment and development firm says it is considering setting up a mortgage bank to give more Nigerians access to housing.

A relatively young property firm that came into business six years ago, Pertinence Properties aims to reach all income levels—low, middle and upper levels with special focus on low income earners who corner not less than 60 percent of their products and services offering.

“That shows you where our heart is; we really want to be part of the solution to Nigeria’s housing deficit. We all don’t have to leave everything to the government”, Sunday Olorunsheyi, Executive Director, Admini/Operatoions at Pertinence, told newsmen in an interview.

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“Part of our long term vision is to own a mortgage bank so that the bank can help our clients buy our properties by giving them the opportunity to pay over a long period of time. We want to make profit as a business but we also want to impact lives”, Olorunsheyi assured.

For Nigeria’s 200 million population, homeownership level is a little above 10 percent while housing deficit is expected to hit 20 million units by 2025 unless there is a dramatic government policy that will encourage more investment in the low-end residential properties.

Experts note that there are two major issues with the housing deficit in the country. The first is lack of a functional mortgage system while the second one is the absence of a social security system in the country. Again, there is no system that is dedicated to funding housing for low income families.

In developed economies, people don’t save to buy houses. They take mortgage facilities instead. But Nigeria does not have a well developed and functional mortgage system. Interest rate on mortgage loans is double digit, making it not in any way different from commercial loans given by deposit banks.

“This means that there is something fundamentally wrong with the country’s mortgage system. There are some basic problems with the mortgage system in Nigeria. One is accessibility and the second one is clarity. Talking about accessibility, you find that when you approach a mortgage bank for loan, they will ask you for things that you cannot provide. So, the mortgage is simply not accessible for those that actually need it”, Paul Onwuanibe, CEO, Landmark Group, explained to newsmen.

He explained further that, in terms of clarity, there is no unified system. There is nowhere the government has published a mortgage rate which the mortgage banks have to use or a mortgage standard or process which the banks have to fit into.

Expectation is that by setting up a mortgage bank  as a property developer with a rich stock of housing, Pertinence will be taking a good number of ‘homeless’ Nigerians out of the crowded housing market.

Olorunsheyi noted, however, that in seeking sustainable solution to the housing deficit, there should be collaboration between the public and the private sector operators, pointing out that the recent signing of the Executive Order 7 by the federal government was a good development as it allows the private companies to provide infrastructure such as roads and rail tracks.

“If this had been in existence long ago, we would have seen a lot of developments in the country. In most of the places we have projects, we are the ones fixing the roads and we spend a lot to get this done.

“We are really doing our best to service the low income group but government should do its own beat. One major challenge we in real estate is documentation which government makes so difficult for developers like us. If technology is driving some of these things, we wouldn’t have this headache because the processes would have been faster and cheaper”, he said.

At the moment, Pertinence is developing The New Badagry Homes which, it says, will be dedicated to its rent-to-own housing initiative for low and mid-income home seekers in that area of Lagos. The New Badagry Homes is designed to rise three floors comprising one, two and three-bedroom apartments.

Source: Businessday

NITP blames state governments over poor city master plan

The Nigerian Institute of Town Planners has knocked state governments over the poor and non-implementation of a proper master plan in the planning of cities across the country.

According to the institute, aside from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, no other city in Nigeria has been able to adequately implement a proper master plan in the construction of buildings and other infrastructures.

The institute noted that state governments were only making “piecemeal efforts” in terms of the implementation of a proper master plan in their domains.

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The National President, NITP, Lekwa Ezutah, told our correspondent that although Owerri and Awka, the state capitals of Imo and Anambra, respectively, had some sort of comprehensive master plans, the plans had not been reviewed several years after they were introduced.

When asked to mention the number of states or state capitals in Nigeria that had proper master plans, Ezutah replied, “Apart from Abuja actually, I would rather say there have been piecemeal efforts in the others.

“Owerri has a comprehensive master plan. But a master plan that is supposed to be reviewed after about five years and you are still having it after 30 years without any review, is that ideal?”

He added, “So, you have master plans for some cities which need to be reviewed but are not being reviewed. Owerri has a master plan, but most of our cities don’t have such kind of document.

“It is either the master plan was started and not concluded or it was produced and not followed. Awka and Nnewi in Anambra State prepared a plan but the plans have been on the shelf. Nothing on the ground reflects those plans. These are issues.”

Ezutah said since about 1863, the planning of cities was formalised as a government activity, but despite the over 150 years that planning was introduced, “we don’t still seem to appreciate its usefulness.”

The NITP president observed that town planning in Nigeria was all about the approval of building plans, demolition of illegal structures and so on.

On the responses of policymakers when told about town planning, Ezutah said, “If the policymakers appreciate what town planning is all about; it will not be a secondary matter.”

He noted that the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law was passed in 1992 and up till today the government had not set up a body in line with that law.

He said, “You can imagine how many years after this is. The law provides that the Federal Government should have a planning commission, the states should have planning boards and the local governments should have planning authorities.”

Solar power now competing for lands, holds lesson for Nigeria

The usage of solar energy is one topic that excites Nigerian, though majorities see it as a mirage because of the cost.

The reason why some discerning Nigerians are interested in it, of course, is not farfetched. Successive governments have failed woefully with regards to the provision of regular electricity.

While its beginning to gather momentum in Nigeria, in United States and other South Asian countries they seems move a step higher as solar power companies are now competing for land with agriculture, industry and expanding populations by placing floating panels in lakes, dams, reservoirs and the sea.

In Thailand for example, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)said it will tender a proposal for a 45-megawatt floating solar plant in the Sirindhorn dam in the country’s northeast while it also plans to invest in about 16 such projects across nine dams in the country.

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Another country doing similar thing is Singapore, the country is developing one of the world’s largest offshore floating solar systems in the Strait of Johor to the north of the island.

“In land-scarce countries like Singapore, the widespread use of PV systems is hindered by space constraints and limited roof space,” said Frank Phuan, chief executive officer of Sunseap Group told Reuters.

CEO of Sunseap Group, one of the companies building the system said the platform has to be “more robust” than systems in reservoirs or lakes to withstand tougher conditions on the open sea, and to overcome barnacles that may grow on it.

“It was also difficult to find a spot in the sea that was not frequented by shipping vessels,” CEO of Sunseap Group admitted.

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According to the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), despite these challenges, floating solar systems are growing quickly in Asia alongside those on the ground and on roofs.

“While floating panels are more expensive to install, they are up to 16 percent more efficient because the water’s cooling effect helps reduce thermal losses and extend their life,”SERIS said.

The According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the United States also experienced a solar boom as installed capacity last year reached 60 gigawatts, up from about 9GW a decade ago, which it expects to more than double in the next five years, with about 14GW being installed annually.

“For a start, that means much more land will be needed: under a scenario that sees solar reach 1,618GW by 2050, the government estimates a total of 6.6 million acres (2.7 million hectares) will be required by 2050 – roughly the size of Massachusetts,”Solar Industry Research Data said.

According to the World Bank in a report title “Where Sun meets Water”,China currently accounts for most of the more than 1.1 gigawatts of floating solar capacity now installed.

There are concerns that the panels could block sunlight, affecting marine life and ecosystems, and that the electrical systems might not withstand the onslaught of water supporters say the technology is proven, and that the panels cover too small a surface area to create major problems.

Stakeholders will be hoping similar feet can be repeated in Africa biggest economy which is emerging to be one of the most attractive solar markets in the region.

Source: Dipo Oladehinde

Real estate funds will boost economic activities —FDSH

The FSDH Research has said that a real estate fund is an investment vehicle that can be used to address Nigeria’s housing shortage and encourage economic activities in the real estate sector.

FSDH Merchant Bank stated this in its report on ‘Real estate fund — Investment vehicle to address housing shortage in Nigeria.’

It observed that there was a significant shortage of affordable housing in Nigeria.

The housing gap is estimated to stand between 17 and 20 million units, it stated.

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“This means that Nigeria needs to build between 17 and 20 million housing units to ensure that Nigerians have this basic human need,” it added.

The report said, in monetary terms, Nigeria might require between N170tn to N200tn to bridge the housing gap if each unit costs N10m.

It stated, “Given the rising population in the country, the housing shortage keeps increasing. Meanwhile, the developments in the real estate sector of the Nigerian economy, which is where activities that will close the housing shortage will take place, have not been impressive.”

Economic activity in the real estate sector had been consistently contracting since Q1 2016, it said.

In addition, it added, investors (both retail and high net worth) could create wealth in real estate through regularly investing in a Real Estate Fund without investing directly in the brick and mortar.

“REF is an investment vehicle that pools resource together to invest in real estate, therefore, allowing individual investors to partake in the benefits of the underlying properties,” it added.

In Nigeria, the report said, REFs were traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, just like stocks/shares.

They could, therefore, be purchased through stockbrokers, just like other stocks/shares.

According to the report, every REF must have a fund manager that manages the fund to ensure the best return to shareholders.

It stated, “REFs are real estate working for the investors. 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.

“REFs are required to distribute at least 90 per cent of their taxable income as dividend. As a result, it provides constant income for shareholders.”

The report said there was no minimum amount to invest in a REF, adding that it was suitable for all investors.

REFs have not gained much popularity in Nigeria in terms of the numbers available and their size relative to the size of the Nigerian economy.

The report said there were currently only three REFs listed on the NSE which are Skye Shelter Fund, Union Homes Real Estate Investment Trust and UPDC Real Estate Investment Trust.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the total value of the assets of all three funds stood at N43.74bn as of 18 January 2019; this represents about 0.03 per cent of Nigeria’s total Gross Domestic Product, it added.

The FSDH Research noted that the assets had recorded weak growth over the last five years, perhaps due to the slow activity in the real estate sector in general.

The inadequate information on how REFs worked and how investors could take advantage of the investment opportunities in them might also explain why REFs were not growing as they should, the FSDH said.

It stated, “FSDH Research believes REFs can be used as one of the measures to boost activity in the real estate sector. As patronage for REFs in Nigeria increases, more funds would be available to buy and develop more real estate properties. Consequently, the real estate sector would begin to experience increased activity.”

Source: Punch

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