Prices are falling in these 7 cities: Great news for first-time homebuyers

Available home inventory is still low across the United States. Low supply has been pushing prices up, but there are several major markets where home prices have fallen significantly since last year. A recent study analyzed home prices from Zillow’s real estate index to zero-in on major cities that are seeing housing become more affordable.

Geographically, there are some loose patterns among these cities. Perhaps most notably is that three Texas real estate markets showed a marked decline in prices year-over-year. At a broader level, six of the seven cities are located in the Census-designated South region of the U.S.

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Take a look at these seven cities and the change in their home prices over the last year:

San Antonio, Texas

  • Median list price 2018: $266,499
  • Median list price 2017: $275,000
  • YOY Change (%): -3.1%
  • YOY Change ($): -$8,501

Charlottesville, Virginia

  • Median list price 2018: $364,900
  • Median list price 2017: $385,000
  • YOY Change (%): -5.2%
  • YOY Change ($): -$20,100

Naples, Florida

  • Median list price 2018: $399,925
  • Median list price 2017: $445,000
  • YOY Change (%): -10.1%
  • YOY Change ($): -$45,075

Salinas, California

  • Median list price 2018: $749,000
  • Median list price 2017: $769,900
  • YOY Change (%): -2.7%
  • YOY Change ($): -$20,900

Lafayette, Louisiana

  • Median list price 2018: $199,000
  • Median list price 2017: $209,500
  • YOY Change (%): -5.0%
  • YOY Change ($): -$10,500

College Station, Texas

  • Median list price 2018: $262,500
  • Median list price 2017: $289,900
  • YOY Change (%): -9.5%
  • YOY Change ($): -$27,400

Austin, Texas

  • Median list price 2018: $327,000
  • Median list price 2017: $336,995
  • YOY Change (%): -3.0%
  • YOY Change ($): -$9,995

Falling home prices are good news for first-time homebuyers in the U.S. In fact, all of these cities fall into states that favor first-time homebuyers, according to another real estate study. Texas, California, Virginia and Louisiana all rank among the best states for first-time homebuyers.

Source: Andrew Depietro

Liberia set to build 50,000 affordable homes

Liberian President, George Weah

Liberia’s National Housing Authourity (NHA) is set to construct  50000 affordable housing units by signing a Memorandum with the GELPAZ Liberia.

According to the Deputy Managing Director for Technical Services at the NHA, Hon. Isaac Roberts, Jr,  the project will involve at least 500 units.

He also said the project will spread in two communities, Memeh Town, near Ricks Institute and VOA in Brewerville and Montserrado County first as it aims to further the construction in 15 counties.

He said further that an additional 12.5 acres of land has been acquired to the already owned 12.5 acres of land in VOA area.

The land he said will be developed to resettle about 64 families living in temporary homes near VOA, Brewerville.

90% of locally alternative materials have been billed to be used for the construction.

The acquired land is close to the beach with a beach front design that will be built at a cost of twelve to fifteen thousand dollars. The housing will comprise of one bedroom apartment, two bedroom, three bedroom and four bedroom apartment represented by F1, F2, F3, and F4 respectively.

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Mr. Roberts also added that the units will be sub divided into four categories namely social, luxurious, economy luxurious and pro-poor housing. He explains that the division was to give Liberians financial options they can choose from according to their financial positions.

Robertsfield Highway – Sarpawein or Tower Hill and the Schefillin Town will also be targeted. The units will be built using up to 90% locally alternative materials.

60% of Liberians in urban areas live in the slums in a country where urbanization rate is 3 per cent. The housing crisis came after years of civil war. NHA estimates that by 2030, 500 000 housings will be needed.

The NHA is also holding talks with other investors for construction of an additional 30 000 units across the country. This is in efforts of President George Weah’s pledge of building affordable homes.

Co-Living Goes Affordable

The co-living trend — in which renters lease sleeping quarters that are often tiny, and share common living space with roommates — now has the city’s official backing.

On Thursday, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development is expected to announce a pilot program that will allow developers to vie for public financing to create a more affordable version of the dorm-style living arrangement that has emerged in some of the city’s priciest neighborhoods. Much of what already exists is at or above market rate, with some buildings offering additional amenities to residents.

The city’s pilot, called ShareNYC, will seek proposals for private development sites that favor mostly income-restricted units, including those for very low-income renters. The units will vary in design, but will likely run between 150 and 400 square feet per bedroom, may or may not have private bathrooms, and will include a common kitchen and living space that is shared with other roommates, according to a briefing on the program and an agency official. A mix of conventional and market-rate units will also be considered.

The deadline for submissions is March 14, 2019.

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Versions of this kind of housing have already sprung up around the city, but restrictions on the maximum number of unrelated roommates (up to three), and constraints on most ground-up construction in this category, sometimes called “single-room occupancy,” or S.R.O., have limited what developers can build.

Some of these existing co-living arrangements may be less expensive to rent than larger, conventional units, but still veer toward luxury prices. With this pilot, city officials are hoping to create new models of shared housing that will bring down construction costs and incentivize the creation of more affordable units.

“It’s really a decision that reflects what we see in the world — a shortage of small apartments,” said Maria Torres-Springer, the department’s commissioner, who noted that about two-thirds of households in the city consist of just one or two people, yet less than half of available housing caters to them.

Even the smallest apartments are often out of reach for many renters. More than 436,000 single adults living in New York in 2015 were rent-burdened, meaning they spent more than 30 percent of their income on rent, according to an analysis by New York University’s Furman Center. Among them, 250,000 spent more than half of their income on rent.

Building smaller units, with higher density, could be one way to create more affordable units, said Jessica Yager, the executive director at the Furman Center.

“We show that as the units get smaller, the amount of money needed to support the development is less,” she said.

In one hypothetical model that the Furman Center considered, in which it assumed no land costs, a developer would have to lease a small studio for $1,480 a month to be profitable — an affordable rent for someone making about $59,200 a year. In the same circumstances, a co-living unit, in which the tenant shares a common kitchen and bathroom, could offer a room for $840 a month, affordable to someone making $33,600 a year.

The idea is far from new. For many struggling New Yorkers, co-living is just another name for informal room-sharing, said Sarah Watson, the deputy director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, a nonprofit research organization.

“We’re moving toward nontraditional households, and our housing stock hasn’t quite caught up yet,” she said.

According to the group’s 2017 census analysis, almost a quarter of New York adults were unmarried, considered low-income (making $58,481 a year or less), and living in a shared apartment with family or roommates. The data also dispel the stereotype that only the very young and relatively affluent seek these arrangements: Among that group, the median income was $22,000 and the median age was 36, she said.

Part of what the city is seeking in the proposals is answers to questions that anyone who has roomed with strangers might ask: Who cleans the living room? Who pays for damages to the common area? Who buys the toilet paper?

All entrants must address how their project will manage tenant relations, and the city will likely look to models established by private companies who are already in this space.

“We mitigate the risk that someone is a freeloader,” said Brad Hargreaves, the founder and chief executive of Common, a co-living management company with 319 beds in New York City and another 400 in the works. His company not only furnishes the bedrooms and shared spaces of the apartments, but also pays for routine toiletries and cleaning services, which he said could otherwise become points of conflict in the home.

“A lot of people see that we’re buying the toilet paper and, oh my god, you’re pampering these people,” said Mr. Hargreaves. But he argued that it was just a small way to keep the peace. (Olive oil and Windex, for instance, are also provided.)

Residents pay for the privilege. Prices for a co-living unit at the Baltic, a project in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood with both co-living and traditional apartments, range from $1,950 to $2,100 a month. Considering these are furnished units with amenities, that is somewhat less expensive than conventional studios in the area, which asked for a median $2,200 a month last quarter, according to StreetEasy. Mr. Hargreaves said it was more typical for their co-living units to lease at about 20 percent less than conventional studios.

Source: Stefanos Chen

Family Homes Fund: Bridging The Housing Gap And Creating Jobs

 

Family Homes Fund is an initiative of the Federal Government, aimed at facilitating affordable housing delivery by entering into specific partnerships with state Governments, developers and international partners/Agencies that can provide technical support and financing for project implementation.

Through strategic partnerships with various players in the sector and some of the world’s main Development finance institutions, the fund will facilitate access to affordable housing for millions of Nigerians on low to medium income groups. With the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and the Ministry of Finance as founding shareholders, the fund aims to support the development of over 500 thousand homes and 1.5 million jobs for Nigerians.

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The Fund  is projected to be the largest affordable housing focused fund in Sub-Saharan Africa leveraging its significant capital (in excess of N1trn by 2023) to facilitate access to affordable housing.

However, leveraging its capital to support the supply of new homes for families on low to medium income is only a means to an end. The key priority for the Fund is to take advantage of the opportunity a large- scale house building program offers to create jobs. Jobs which are sustainable and offer families security, improved quality of life and hope.

 

With a projected cumulative spend of up to N1trillion by 2023 into various inputs into the house building process including doors, windows, tiles, roofing materials, blocks, paving stones, paint etc. there is opportunity to incubate large numbers of small scale industries creating significant employment.

The Family Homes Fund aims to catalyse the creation of new jobs through the investments we make. Alongside investment by other players in the housing sector we have a real opportunity to achieve impact. Real positive impact on families, women who often carry the biggest burden in poor households and young people. At a national level, this potential effectively harnessed could generate up to 1.5% increase to the GDP by 2023.

The Family Homes Fund Limited’s approach to creating jobs will be driven by 3 priorities:

Policy, partnerships and people –

POLICY

The Fund aims to support ongoing dialogue around development of a local contents framework for inputs into the house building process. A long-term objective is to ensure that up to 80% of manufactured inputs are locally produced.

PARTNERSHIPS

A lot more can be achieved collectively, than any single player can individually. The Fund aims to build strong partnerships with different institutions and agencies to maximize this opportunity. The Fund aims to work with existing and new partners in the Building Materials Industry to offer guaranteed purchase commitments in order to enable critical access to capital for massive investment in the housing sector.

 PEOPLE

Through the Investments we make, The Fund will equip a new generation of young Nigerians with high-level skills in modern methods of construction and technologies.

Through a combination of these activities, the Family Homes Fund aims to create or support up to 1,500,000 jobs by 2023 making a real difference to the quality of life of their families and the economy.

Source: Affa Dickson Acho

Housing provision: Akwa Ibom plans new six estates through Family Homes Fund Plan

Governor Udom Emmanuel

In a bid to unclog the major city centre, the Akwa Ibom government has proposed six new estates.

Lands have however been acquired for the housing projects that would take place in Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Abasi, Onna and Uruan.

The state government in partners with the Family Homes Fund has agreed to kickstart the project with 1,000 units of several houses this month.

The commissioner for Lands and Housing who disclosed this development to newsmen said another developer will build 3,000 units of houses at odiok Itam in Itu local government council.

He said the housing projects are specifically situated at the neighbouring councils to the state capital, where workers can live and still go to work whether at the state or federal secretariat.

“These are areas we have already identified as urban areas, we want to increase the housing stocks in Akwa Ibom so that we have houses for people; we want to see how we will build low-income houses especially for civil servants at a very low cost, so that by the time they retire, they have roof over their heads,”  He said.

He disclosed that the government determination and commitment at expanding the city centre has led to its partnering with a private developer to build more houses in the state.

“On the Uyo-Abak road, we have three estates in Ikot Akpayak, Ikot Mbon, Nung Ukim all on the outskirts”.

While talking on illegal markets going on in the major streets of the city centre, the commissioner said the government has already acquired land to build market before relocating the traders.

However, he lamented the way traders in the market who have stores in Udo Umana Street have refused to stay in their shops but rather troop out to the street to display their goods.

SOURCE: Guardian

 

Housing quality ‘vital to tackling malnutrition and poor growth in children

Malnutrition and stunting in children – poor growth that affects both body and mind – may only be ended if they are brought up in higher-standard homes with hot and cold running water, new research suggests.

Ridding the world of stunting is a major global health target. More than 160 million children are malnourished and small for their age. Huge efforts have been made to ensure children in poorer countries are breastfed and get nutritious food in the crucial first two years of life and to improve the water they drink and sanitation in their homes. But two big, well-conducted studies have recently shown that these programmes do not help children grow after all.

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A small study in the Gambia may have revealed why. A team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at the growth of children whose parents worked for their Medical Research Council (MRC) unit in the small village of Keneba.

Among 230 children, the researchers found that the socioeconomic status of the parents – their wealth or poverty, education and income – made only a small difference to the chances of the children not growing as well as they should. What made a difference was the type of housing they lived in.

Annual incomes ranged from $50 to $20,000 per family. Housing ranged from very basic mud block huts to western-style houses with hot and cold running water, showers, flushing toilets, electricity and gas cooking. Children raised in western-style housing grew very well, and none of this group were stunted or underweight. But those raised outside the campus of the MRC unit, where animals roamed freely and water was not on tap, fared substantially less well and were well below average height and weight even though their parents were well educated and had good, secure incomes.

Andrew Prentice, professor of international nutrition at MRC Unit the Gambia at the London School, who led the study, published in BMC Medicine, said there are profound implications if the conclusions are right.

The recent results of the Shine (sanitation, hygiene, infant nutrition efficacy project) and Wash Benefits studies into nutrition, hygiene and sanitation programmes in villages were really disappointing, he said. “These trials were done extraordinarily well – they are great trials. They have really done a great job. This is what the answer is. We all have to scratch our heads and ask why, and what’s next?”

The results suggest that either hygiene does not matter or that the interventions – such as teaching families about hand-washing and ensuring their water is clean – are not enough. “Our data show that the latter is the likely explanation,” said Prentice. “We were on the right lines. We just didn’t do enough.”

As people become wealthier, child growth ceases to be an issue for countries, he pointed out: “It sorts itself out because people have aspirations to much better houses. It’s not that people want to live in unhygienic conditions. They are forced to by poverty. They build themselves lovely houses with piped water.”

But if the conclusions are right, we need to be more ambitious, he says. “Poor people have the right to much better living conditions. I’m not one to bang on about human rights, but I do think it is a human rights issue,” he said. “We have got to stop working on the principle that we can only do very cheap interventions. In a way, that is insulting to our fellow man.

“The takeaway message from our research is that there’s a very high threshold of hygiene necessary to allow children to grow properly – communities need improved living conditions and access to clean water piped into their homes. These findings should redirect governments’ priorities, shifting efforts to providing drastically better housing, and better access to clean water.”

Source: TheGuardian.com

Private developers should not be relied on for affordable housing, forum told

The Government does not need private developers to provide affordable homes, a conference on housing has heard.

Hugh Brennan, the chief executive of Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance, said not-for-profit approved housing bodies had the capacity to provide affordable housing, for sale or rent, without the requirement for the State to subsidise housing in the private sector.

Ó Cualann, which organised the conference in Dublin on Thursday, is building a second estate in Ballymun with homes ranging in price from €145,000 to €220,000.

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The housing co-op is the only organisation in the State currently providing houses under an affordable housing scheme.

The last national affordable housing scheme was discontinued in 2011. Minster for Eoghan Murphy early this year signed a new scheme into law, but houses are not yet under construction.

The co-op was able to keep the prices below market costs because it was sold the land in Ballymun by Dublin City Council for €1,000 per house plot. On the open market the same plots would have cost €20,000-€30,000. The council also waived the development levies of €86.40 per square metre.

About 60 per cent of those who have already bought Ó Cualann houses were paying an average of €1,400 a month in rent and are now paying mortgages at an average of €880. Mr Brennan said the Ó Cualann model can be replicated and scaled up.

Partnerships

“Through partnerships with local authorities and other AHBs [approved housing bodies] like Tuath and Respond, and when the land finance and construction resources are available, it can be scaled [up]. The Government model is depending on the private developer. That is the problem, they do not need to do that.”

Orla Hegarty, of the UCD school of architecture, told the conference that relying on the private sector to build affordable housing was a high-risk strategy for the State.

“Private developers are very vulnerable to changes in financial markets and we all saw what happened last time there was a crash,” she said.

“I think we need to redefine what affordable housing is. I would have a concern that defining affordable housing as a product or a niche market or a scheme is not the way to look at this; we need to talk about affordability as the underpinning strategy for all housing policy.”

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said that if the private sector was used to provide affordable purchase or rental homes, the cost would always be tied to market prices.

“The private sector cannot, on the basis of the economic models of construction and development, deliver affordable housing, so let’s stop trying to make them do that.”

Affordable housing had to be provided by the “State, approved housing bodies nd co-operatives,” he said.

Source: Olivia Kelly

Housing Challenges and Solutions for Africa’s Fast-growing Cities

Africa will have some of the fastest-growing cities in the world over the next 50 years. With this rapid expansion comes many challenges, including urban planning that encompasses affordable housing solutions for the growing number of urban dwellers, as well as provisions for sufficient clean water, electricity and sanitation.

Recently, Habitat for Humanity hosted a leadership conference in South Africa, focused on discussing housing challenges on the continent and how to overcome them. Respected speakers from around the world took to the podium to discuss issues affecting Sub-Saharan Africa, and exchanged ideas on how housing solutions can be funded.

1. Addressing Africa’s unique challenges

Land tenure, access to affordable housing finance, and cost-effective construction methods and materials are some of the unique African issues that need solutions, according to Kevin Chetty, Habitat for Humanity International, Regional Director at Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter.

“Once we understand what we need to overcome, then we can work towards sustainable solutions that stay true to Habitat’s principles of self-reliance and improving systems that enable families to achieve safe and affordable shelter without needing ongoing support,” says Chetty.

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Urban planning is another extremely important factor, with investment needed to fund urban infrastructure such as reliable power, clean water, sanitation and transportation, which in turn will boost economic development.

“Many African countries can’t keep up with the huge influx of people into urban areas, making it near-impossible to provide people with adequate housing, let alone an infrastructure that can handle the momentous task of providing electricity, running water and sanitation, which should be available to all,” he says.

Africa also needs a variety of affordable housing solutions for the growing number of urban dwellers, from housing microfinance to public schemes, and alternative construction methods and materials. “This conference brings together people from across the continent, as well as Europe, to share their successes and challenges and helping us all to achieve Habitats global vision.”

2. Housing is a process, not a product

Housing is complex, and can’t be seen in a linear way.

“A linear approach that looks for a simple cause and effect will most likely lead to a simple solution, and won’t address the totality of challenges that make up this dynamic system that is ever-changing and not static,” explains Chetty.

Understanding and recognising the complexity of housing, and moving beyond the traditional approaches to housing as a product is an essential step. With this new understanding, a successful people-centred integration of knowledge, financing, stakeholder mobilisation, and programme and policy interventions can be made.

A house is an asset, not just for the family living there, but also for the community as whole. Empowering the community and building them up to be sustainable will create positive systemic change.

3. Housing microfinance

In the developed world, housing finance is synonymous with mortgage lending, and represents one of the key building blocks of the banking sector. In less developed countries, mortgages are accessed by as little as one percent of the population.

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In Africa, the poor have invested the most in their housing, and nearly 80% of housing is self-financed. Housing microfinance is particularly suited to the building and financing needs of the majority of Africa’s population, as homes are built informally with local materials and unskilled labour.

Chetty points out that financial service providers are discovering that vast business opportunities exist within the lower-income housing markets of the developing world.

“The Terwilliger Centre for Innovation in Shelter has had a successful project running in Kenya, and we will be replicating this in South Africa in order to give the majority of the population access to microfinance and see the dream of having a home come to fruition.”

Source:  Property24

Affordable Housing: Using the Rwanda Model

If it is to go by the way of policies of successive governments on provision of affordable housing, Nigerians would have been the most housed in the world.

However, years after, these policies are still gathering dust, while homelessness among Nigerians has assumed a frightening dimension.

From 12 million housing deficit in 2007, the country’s accommodation shortage is estimated at between 17 and 20 million housing units in 2018 with a potential cost of N6 trillion ($16 billion) and a 900,000 annual unit deficit increase.

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Reasons such as lack of access to land, high cost of land and money, unfriendly interest rates, low income, lack of enabling environment, high cost of infrastructure, lack of virile mortgage institutions, lack of political will, bottleneck procedures associated with building approval/permits and title are among the factors reeled out by professionals and home seekers as major challenges to affordable housing in Nigeria.

While Nigerians and government are still trading blames, cheery news from Rwanda, a country trying to recover from the genocide of the mid-1990s, showed that the country has moved ahead others in Africa in the area of affordable housing for its citizens.

Rwanda’s housing programme

According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Workers Affordable Properties Limited (WAP) Rwanda , Mr. Kunu Harmony, there are factors responsible for Rwanda’s awesome performance and exploit. He pointed out that the goal was to achieve affordable housing for low and middle income earners.
To achieve the goal, he said that government, financial institutions, private developers and the home beneficiaries played major roles.

According to him, there is an housing policy, which defines expectations of affordable housing with government roles and what the developer’s roles are, adding that the authorities also set maximum cost and what the size of housing should be.

In a chat with Nigerian professionals in the real estate sector on Housing Development Group’s whatsapp platform powered by Festus Adebayo-led Fesadeb Communication Limited, Harmony said there was also a mandatory requirement for government to provide certain facilities once the project is approved to have met affordable housing programme in Rwanda.

“The purpose is to ensure that cost of these facilities is not added to the cost of the housing units in order to keep the price of the housing units within the affordable range,” he said.

Example of such government support, Harmony said, included all external and major internal roads for the estate, water supply pipeline, electricity lines with transformers and fibrer optics, among others.

“However, if this is done by government, not everyone in the country qualifies for affordable housing units. Five conditions are provided in Article 8 of Rwanda’s law for government support for affordable housing,” he noted.

To qualify for the housing units, the CEO of Workers Affordable Properties Limited (WAP) explained that such a person must be a citizen or permanent resident of Rwanda and must be above 21 years of age.

The individual or her spouse, if married, must not have a house already within Kigali if the project is in Kigali and must be within certain salary range as set by prime minister every two years.

Also, the beneficiary cannot sell the house within 10 years, but can rent it out from date of purchase.

Criteria

The developers noted that most times, affordable housing process was abused in many forms, pointing out that technically, the initiative has seven basic assessment criteria that must be tested country by country or region by region if the country is very big.

The criteria for assessing affordable housing, he said, must ensure that 85 per cent of building materials is sourced locally; beneficiaries have access to fund, application of technology, project financing interest rate, project management capacity ‘access to land and cost of land, and government policy supporting affordable housing.

“If this is not done as initial assessment, obtaining affordable housing objectives for the targeted group may be difficult to achieve,” the CEO of WAP said.

On beneficiary’s access to fund, he noted that the World Bank and UN had defined affordable housing to target low and medium income earners, adding that the expectation is that not more than 45 per cent of salary should be spent on house need per month.

Another professional, Mr. Olatunde Adetayo, said that every sector in Rwanda was functioning well and properly regulated.

“The people understand where they are, what they have and equally what they lack. These are basic ingredients for planning,” he said.

According to Adetayo, the housing sector does not work in isolation; it works hand in hand with other government agencies to determine beneficiaries of housing units.

He said: “The key thing we must learn from Rwanda is that you should not attempt to bribe anyone to influence things or change records for undue favour.

“Let it also be known that Rwanda does not joke with its tax policies as it cuts across every sector, including land,” he said.

Finance

Talking about access to funds, Harmony listed two categories, which involve mortgage or construction loan programme from bank and government housing fund.

In Rwanda, he explained that mortgage loans were given for a near or finished house, why the grant of construction loan is different.

He said: “The construction loan interest rate is usually little higher than the mortgage loan interest rate. Some banks are still doing eight years repayment period while the banks we had alignment with have moved to 20 years repayment period.

“The interest rate for both mortgage loan and construction loan range from 15.5 per cent to 17.5 per cent, depending on the applicant risk level.”

On government’s housing fund, Harmony explained that the loan was being provided to prospective homeowners through the commercial banks at a much lower interest rate that is less than 10 per cent for a period of 20 years with zero down payment.

“Target is low and middle income earners. The origin of this loan is from the World Bank to Government Investment Bank, which then disburses to the participating commercial banks,” he said.

Local material

To attain affordable housing for the populace, the developer enjoined Nigerian real estate experts to explore opportunities in clay.

He said: “One big aspect I think we can look for affordable housing materials is the large deposit of clay we have in Nigeria . Most houses in Europe and United State are made from fired bricks produced from clay.

“The fired bricks with the right technology produce very strong and beautiful bricks in different colours. One can also produce other house finishing items for roofing, tiles and others from that if you have the right equipment.”

He hinted that his company was currently in phase three of acquiring some production equipment, targeting production of over 150,000 bricks per day in Rwanda.

Last line

When there is will, there is a way. Nigerian government must show the way by providing the enabling environment for private sector to thrive in the provision of cheap houses.

Source:  Dayo Ayeyemi

Harsh economy forcing many city dwellers to uncompleted buildings

The stark reality of the harsh economic situation is leading to an upsurge of Nigerians moving to uncompleted buildings in major towns and on the outskirts, leaving some of the homeowners with sad tales.However, the trend is growing spontaneously as housing has remained a major challenge in the cities due shortage of residential accommodation.

Many residents, who cannot afford decent homes, stay in houses that have structural defects, sewage challenges, congestion and lack of ventilation among others.

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The figure pitched Nigeria high on the global figure of 1.6 billion people that lacked adequate housing as released by The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat) in 2015.

This is a consequence of many factors, including rapid urbanisation and poverty, high cost of rents and currently mainly the terror by Boko Haram.

The practice is more evident in neighbouring towns within major cities like Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and Port Harcourt.

In several parts of Lagos for instance, residents who cannot afford the high cost of apartments in the highbrow areas, move to the outskirts to rent apartments, which usually lack basic amenities.

These buildings, which are often in their uncompleted stages, are dotted in several estates, shanties and other dirty environment in border towns.

Ideally, people should not be living in such conditions, but in Lagos, it doesn’t matter because it is the survival of the fittest. The situation is worsened by the present economic realities, which led to 70 percent devaluation of Naira.

According to the United Nations, a house must have some basic amenities and once those things are not there people are bound to be expose to social risks.

These basic amenities include, adequate privacy, adequate space; physical accessibility; adequate security; security of tenure; structural stability and reliability; adequate lighting, heating and ventilation; adequate basic infrastructure, such as water supply, sanitation and waste-management facilities; suitable quality environment.

Apart from health hazards, living in such buildings also come with some social implications.

A Septuagenarian, Mrs. Eunice Erosomole, who lives in an uncompleted three bedroom Bungalow at Peace Estate, Mowe with her four children said, these amenities are a luxury they cannot think of because of the circumstance that forced them to live the unfinished home.

She was forced to relocate to the apartment with her children following the death of her husband. Narrating her ordeal, she had to park out because of her inability to pay the landlord in Ketu area of Lagos.

The landlord, she said, went as far as removing their roof and they have no option than to relocate even though, the building was yet to be ceiled, floored and plastered.

“ We are even lucky to have a place we can called our own, if not we don’t know what would have been our fate today”, she said.

Mrs. Erosomole said thieves, who broke into her house through the roof and the blocks, had robbed her severally.

“ When, I lost my husband, I had the option to use his gratuity to complete the house but my two children were in the university. One was in his second year, while the other was in his final year. I came to the conclusion that the money should be used for their education. They have graduated but yet to get employment”, she lamented.

There was also the same case with Mr. Johnson Oleka, who is living with his family in Agbara in Ogun State.

Oleka was forced to his uncompleted building from Ilasa area of Lagos.

Apart from lack of infrastructure in the area, which is the trademark of such developing outskirts, he has constant battle with reptiles and robbers.

He rehearsed the sorry tale of how termites invaded one of the rooms he used as poultry in his house last month and killed all the birds; he was rearing to sell during December season.

Oleka said he has planned to use the proceeds to plaster the rooms and the sewage before the unfortunate incidence.

The trend is not limited in Lagos, as many residents in Marraba and environs in Nasarrawa State are living in uncompleted building because they cannot afford the rents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

One of such residents, Upele John, said he commenced the building during the last administration but lost his job, hence his decision to park into the house with the family, as he could not afford the exorbitant house rents.

John said in this kind of situation nobody considers the risk associated with living in uncompleted, as you will see that you are not alone.

But the Country Leader at Cromwell Professional Services International and Urban Development, Sola Enitan, said there is no how anybody would continue to pay rents when he has an uncompleted building he could live in.

The situation, he said is further compounded when landlords are increasing rents in order to maximize their investments with the depreciating value of the Naira.

Enitan, an estate surveyor and valuer said the phenomenon could be traceable to the economic situation where the value of Naira is continuously depreciating.

“ Nobody can fault this phenomenon because naira has lost about 70 per cent of its value and nobody in his right sense who has an uncompleted building will like to go to pay rents”, he said.

Enitan, an Estate Surveyor and Valuer said the phenomenon could be linked to the clampdown on corruption by the present administration, which has reduced the income of majority of Nigerians who feed on corruption proceeds.

Source: Guardian Newspaper

 

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