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As virtual office demand rises, outlook for commercial properties remains bleak

Notwithstanding permutations by some industry gurus that the sector will perform better this year, the outlook for the commercial properties still remains bleak.

The economic environment has remained low, operating at far below par, according to the estate firm, Messrs Ubosi Eleh and Company in its 110-page special annual publication titled: ‘The Nigeria Real Estate Report.’ “It will require much more than optimism to impact and cause rents to rise, or even translate to higher demand for office space,” the documents revealed.“

For the commercial properties, the take-up rates will remain very low with landlords continuing to throw in sweeteners to attract and keep tenants. Tenants and prospective tenants will continue to drive hard bargains and have upper hands in negotiations.

“As the government begins a new term, there is always a renewed hope and optimism amongst Nigerians, and this usually gives a boost to businesses and the economy.

We believe that this year will not be different. The optimism will not, however, impact commercial rents,” the report said. With businesses still struggling to recover lost ground nearly two years the country exited recession, the document said that may investors will shelve plans for the commencement of new commercial office developments.
The report noted that the class A commercial developments have continued to suffer an oversupply. Average rents for the Class A developments still oscillate between $550-$700 per square meter.

These are developments, in which original projections were in the range of $1,000 -$1,200 per square meter.Similarly, the projections for virtual offices indicate that the lessons from the economic recession and the uncertainties of the economy will continue to drive and increase demand for it, including co-share spaces. Space is driven by expatriates coming into Nigeria to start businesses and Nigerian startups.

Meanwhile, the report has described as rather an unusual Nigeria’s drop out of Africa’s top 10 investment destinations in 2018. The firm outlined how certain factors including politics, macro-economy, micro-economy, and the budget affected the real estate outlook in the preceding year. A principal partner of the firm, Emeka Eleh, said the development was unusual because it was the first time it would happen and also for the fact that the country remained the largest economy in Africa and the most populous.

Eleh believes that the size and potential of the country’s consumer market should have made Nigeria the preferred investment destination on the continent in 2018 but wondered why it was not so. In all, the report posted a largely underperforming economy in 2018 despite the bounce back in the oil market,” the year was tough at various levels for different firms and sectors of the economy. A further contraction in the construction and real estate industries showed that business confidence remained low even after a rally in oil prices”.

The aftermath effects of the elections were also not sparing as the firm in the report, observed that “ less government spending after the election is likely to weigh economic activity in 2019 as revenue at the state level in particular, continued to underperform and borrowing conditions proved more challenging”.

The firm observed that “ little progress was made in diversifying the economy away from its reliance on oil revenue during President Muhammadu Buhari’s four years in office and that restrictions imposed on access to foreign currency also added to the already challenging business environment”.Eleh attributed the investor’s reduced appetite for investing in the country more to risk than return factors. Accordingly, the report maintained that “ global risk consultancy firm, Control Risks, in its latest risk-reward index report identifies Nigeria as offering investors the highest returns on the continent, second only to that of Ethiopia”. On the flip side, the country’s risk rating was the second-highest in the continent, surpassed only by that of Zimbabwe.

The report identified policy inconsistency as the first major risk investors worry about when investing in Nigeria: “ One is never sure if a major policy initiated by one government will be sustained the next government or even reversed by the same government. This risk manifests easily as political risk and is easily evident as election approaches. Capital inflows into Nigeria tend to slow down as election approaches and picks up post-election once investors become certain of the direction of government policies in a new administration”.

The report identifies respect or certainty of contracts in the country as another risk investors are concerned about: “ Oftentimes, the government has entered into contracts with investors only for the government to turn around and seek to change the terms of such contracts without the consent of the companies or persons it entered into the contracts with”.

The terms of the contract, Eleh noted are not only violated, even third parties that invested in the projects are also affected adversely and this he reiterated is even worse for contracts inherited by successive administrations. Corruption, according to the report is another major risk faced by investors doing business in Nigeria: “ There are instances where investors have been asked to bribe certain government officials that are in charge of approving projects that they have already invested significant amounts of money into before such projects will be allowed to progress to the next stage”.

Probably, the most talked-about risk for investors’ loss of confidence in Nigeria is insecurity:” The North East is now an area most foreign investors cannot visit because of being killed or kidnapped. Foreign and local investors also face similar risks in other parts of the country especially in the oil and gas-rich South-South and the industrious South East.

The report acknowledges that although there were other risks such as navigating an opaque bureaucracy in many states of the federation, poor manpower, capacity, failed infrastructure, and power supply, these latter risks were within the control of the investors and usually provided for in the business plan.

The report concluded that a major consequence of these risks was that investors were compelled to restrict their activities to just a few areas they can operate safely. Not surprising, it maintains that about 70per cent of investment inflows into the country are directed to companies in Lagos or around Lagos, leading to over-concentration of investment inflows into the country or in the Lagos area.

Source: The guardian

TOPREC, NITP warn professionals against unethical practices

In the light of recent challenges confronting the built environment and the country at large, Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria and the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, have cautioned professionals against the abuse of office and ethical values.

The President, Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof Layi Egunjobi, said it had become necessary for stakeholders to observe ethical principles both in the private and public sectors for them to be able to face certain challenges confronting the country.

He noted that a score of doubts, dilemmas, dubious loyalties and conflicting incentives might cloud the application of ethical conduct.

According to him, this can result to the rise of misbehaviour, failures or unfulfilled public expectations that feed more demanding public reactions to various planning problem such as building collapse, environmental degradation and slum development among others.

Egunjobi and others spoke at the institute’s Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Programme with the theme, ‘Mastering ethical conduct in town planning practice.’

“The role of ethics becomes more central and should penetrate more deeply both into the profession, practice and professionals for better service delivery in some challenging circumstances. We should become even stauncher supporters of our code of ethics, and even more determined to work to achieve its broad implementation,” he said.

The President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Lekwa Ezutah, said town planners could only raise the quality of lives of people through creating and maintaining liveable environments by disciplined practice in line with ethics of the profession.

He noted that in recent years, greed and impatience had driven so many professionals to abuse ethics and code of conduct for pecuniary gratifications.

He added, “These are perpetrated through reckless use of stamps and seals, abuse of land use plans through uncoordinated changes; bastardisation of plans; building plan approvals without recourse to master plans, where they exist; supplanting in bidding for consultancy services; poor performance of duties, including non-attendance of lectures by our colleagues in academics, thus impartation of knowledge and other innumerable acts which are inconsistent with established rules of operation.

“Due to these acts against ethics, members are priced low and they rub negatively on us through projection of bad image of our noble profession to the public.

“Non-adherence to ethics would sweep the carpet from under our feet and take food from our table. I therefore call for caution in the practice of the planning profession to enable us hold our heads high, in terms of integrity before the government and the Nigerian public at large. We must bequeath a worthwhile legacy to posterity.”

Ezutah said the profession of town planning could no longer be business as usual for defaulters of professional ethics.

“The professional ethics and disciplinary committee will no longer stop at barking but will bite defaulters hard to serve as deterrents to misconduct,” he said.

The Managing Director, MOA Planners Limited, Moses Ogunleye, stated that as a profession, town planning and its practitioners should be distinctive in conduct and exemplary in character.

“In other words, they should stand for and be known for something. Practitioners of the profession can only be respected when what they stand for edifies objectivity, honesty, probity, incorruptibility and integrity,” he added.

The Chairman of the 21st MCPDP Committee, Prof Smart Uchegbu, said it became necessary to address ethical issues due to challenges in the profession.

Source: Punch

Homebuyer interest rises in the UK for first time since November 2016

New homebuyer interest rose across the UK in June for the first time since November 2016, as a more stable trend began to emerge in the UK housing market.

While commentary from respondents remained “generally a little downbeat”, contributors to the June edition of the RICS UK Residential Market Survey reported a rise in buyer demand, while new instructions held steady and newly agreed sales edged into positive territory for the first time in over two years.

In June, 10% more respondents reported a rise in interest from new buyers, which was the first time in two and a half years that the survey had reported a rise in new buyer enquiries at the national level.

RICS’ survey also indicated that as buyer interest picked up, signs of more stable trends seemingly began to appear.

“The new instructions indicator has now edged into positive territory for the first time in a year. However, with stock levels on estate agents’ books still around record lows, and appraisals lower now than at this time last year, it remains to be seen if this change will have a material impact on the supply issue,” said RICS.

The newly agreed sales net balance rose 2% in June – marking the first time in ten months where survey participants did not report a decline – and sales expectations for the coming quarter suggested that the stable trend was likely to continue, according to RICS. Further ahead twelve-month sales expectations were also “more positive”.

RICS’ chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “The latest data provides further evidence of the sales market settling down but I don’t get the impression from the insight provided by contributors that this is fuelling hope of a significantly more active market going forward. Many of the factors that have provided a challenge during the first half of the year remain unresolved.”

In terms of price growth, house price movement appeared to “be flatlining at the national level”, while at the regional level, with the exception of London, the South East and East of England, the country was showing growth.

Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics said: “The Brexit extension has provided just enough time for the housing market to recover. The house price balance rose to its highest level since October 2018 and to a level consistent with year-over-year growth in the official measure of house prices of about 2.0%.

“Meanwhile, households are for now largely unfazed by the risk of a no-deal Brexit — GfK’s measure of their confidence in their personal finances has risen since Q1 and is above its long-run average—and their real disposable income still is growing briskly. So provided a no-deal Brexit does not come to pass, house price growth should soon start to turn the corner.”

Source: Sharecast news

Grab land in Ekiti, get four years jail term — Ekiti govt

THE Ekiti State Government has promulgated an anti-grabbing law forbidding fraudulent and forceful occupation of land.

Fayemi Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State Edo has neither House of Assembly nor Speaker — Idahagbon, ex-Attorney General. The Anti-Land Grabbing Law was aimed at curbing the activities of land grabbers locally known as omo oniles and individuals who engage in fraudulent sale, resale and forcible occupation of land.

The Deputy Governor, Otunba Bise Egbeyemi made the disclosure at the palace of Ewi of Ado-Ekiti during an enlightenment campaign on the provisions of the law A statement by Special Assistant (Media) to the Deputy Governor, Odunayo Ogunmola, disclosed that Governor Kayode Fayemi gave his assent to the Law on 4th June, 2019 alongside seven others after they were passed by the fifth House of Assembly.

Egbeyemi stressed that government would enforce the law to the letter advising quarter chiefs, family heads and land owners to be truthful and carry stakeholders along while selling land to prospective developers.

Oba Adejugbe, in his address, commended the Fayemi administration for taking proactive action to halt the activities of land grabbers in the state. The monarch while regretting that most of the problem faced in Ado Ekiti centers on land matters, said individuals would be able to know the stand of the law on land matters.

Source: Vanguard

Waves of change: Nigeria’s Lagos battles Atlantic erosion

Can Lagos hold back the waves?

Sprawled around a lagoon, Nigeria’s frenetic economic capital faces a threat from the Atlantic on its doorstep.

The ocean has pounded the soft, sandy shoreline on a timescale far surpassing human history—but now its waves spell a major threat to the city and its booming population.

The coastline is eroding, driven partly by higher water levels caused by global warming but also from the impact of dredging to provide sand for construction.

Global warming, according to a World Bank study in March, is causing the Atlantic to invade Africa’s western coast by up to four metres (13 feet) a year, badly hitting some economically vital areas.

Attempts have been made to defy the ocean—but critics say they have sometimes just led to new problems.

In particular, a high-end construction project called Eko Atlantic has divided opinion.

Launched in 2007 by billionaire investors with strong political backing, the scheme has been billed as a Dubai for Africa—a hyper-luxury enclave of skyscrapers built on land reclaimed from the seas.

An economic downturn in recent years has stalled the mammoth undertaking, but already millions of tonnes of sand have been hauled from the ocean floor to create a manmade peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic from the affluent Victoria Island.

Surrounding it is what the developers call the “Great Wall of Lagos”, a barrier of rocks and five-tonne concrete blocks intended to run for 8.5 kilometres (more than five miles), designed to withstand the worst storms the Atlantic can throw at it.

While the barrier has still not reached full length, those responsible say it has “saved” the business hub of Victoria Island standing behind it from the ravages of the ocean.

“Today, Lagos is already seeing the benefits of the Great Wall, once flooded roads are now passable and abandoned properties have been reinvested,” Eko Atlantic’s website says.

‘Washed away’

But while it is seen as a solution for some, the mammoth project is described as a major problem for others.

Around 12 kilometres (eight miles) to the east, landowner Wasiu Elegushi says the Eko Atlantic has caused devastating changes to coastal currents, destroying his small middle-class neighbourhood, Alpha Beach.

Since construction began in 2007, locals and researchers say displaced currents have washed away more than 25 metres of land from the shoreline.

“Before Eko, we had nature, palm trees and coconut trees,” Elegushi told AFP.

“The water started to rise. Everything has been washed away.”

The shore-hugging Alpha Beach road has disappeared under the waves and apartment blocks built with prized ocean views just 10 years ago are now occupied only by squatters.

A barrier has now gone up to try to protect the area, but for many residents it appears too late.

“The way the tides would react to the wall was clear to anyone who understands this,” said Tunji Adejumo, an ecologist at the University of Lagos.

“It shows that the promoters had no consideration” for the rest of the coast, he said.

Some homes have been completely burrowed in sand at Alpha Beach

Eko Atlantic did not respond to questions from AFP about the impact of its construction.

Megacity, mega-problems

Experts say Eko Atlantic is simply the most prominent example of the impact of large-scale land reclamation in Africa’s largest metropolis.

With more than 20 million residents—no one knows its exact size—Lagos is also one of the world’s fastest growing cities.

The city has long been vulnerable to flood surges, but environmental safeguards are weak.

One unanticipated consequence of the city’s headlong rush for growth has been that parts of the seabed have become a moonscape as dredgers have pillaged its sand to make concrete.

An extensive impact study for the state government seen by AFP shows that the once smooth ocean floor now has gigantic holes up to eight metres deep, some of them perilously close to the shore.

An economic downturn in recent years has stalled the mammoth undertaking, but already millions of tonnes of sand have been hauled from the ocean floor to create a manmade peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic from the affluent Victoria Island

Experts say such craters can compromise the safety of coastline properties, and some structures in poorer waterfront communities are already collapsing.

Elsewhere, what were once shallow swamplands in Lekki, a peninsula dividing the Lagos lagoon from open sea, were reclaimed in the 1990s to become a middle-class residential area.

Lekki is now home to hundreds of thousands of people, but the former wetlands are progressively sinking and poor drainage is a major source of flooding.

“Several communities (in the city) have already been swept away. If nothing is done, Lagos will be submerged by 2050,” Chief Ede Dafinone, president of Nigerian Conservation Foundation has cautioned.

And in the oceanfront areas bearing the brunt, locals are already counting the cost.

On Alpha Beach, people are gloomy.

“People have land here but don’t even build on it; they’re afraid,” said Bobby Isowshe, who sells refreshments on the beach. “The businesses don’t really do well anymore.”


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