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Despite setbacks, Nigeria’s real estate investors to expect windfall in 2019

Recent statistics have shown that the Nigerian real estate sector has been suffering setbacks. Out of the ₦15 trillion worth of credit facilities (bank loans) that were given to the private sector in Q4 2018, real estate only got ₦622 billion. This represents just 4% of the total loans/credit.

A quick analysis of the 2018 selected banking sector indicators’ report, as released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), revealed that the total bank credit for the real estate sector declined by 12% between Q3 and Q4 2018.

During the third quarter, the real estate sector got ₦710 billion, while the corresponding value in Q4 declined to ₦622 billion.

Bank credit falls for the 4th consecutive quarter – Although the sector received  ₦622 billion worth of loans in Q4, the amount represented the third consecutive quarter decline in the amount of bank loans allocated to the sector.

In 2018, for instance, credit allocated to real estate decreased from ₦784.2 billion in first quarter, to ₦622.7 billion in the last quarter.

5-year low of bank credit to real estate sector – The latest dip in the bank’s credit/loans to the sector is not a new trend. In Q1 2015, credit allocated to the private sector was ₦615 billion, which fell to ₦548.2 billion in Q2 of the same year. By Q4 2015, bank credit to real estate stood at ₦692.2 billion.

This suggests that the cyclical growth movements in the real estate sector can be traced to the decline in banks’ credit available to investors.

Agricultural sector receives much more credit facilities than real estate – The agricultural sector has benefited the most from credit facilities given to private investors.

For instance, during the last quarter of 2018, the agricultural sector received the highest bank’s credit of ₦3.5 trillion.

Similarly, the Oil and Gas and Manufacturing sectors are ranked second and third respectively, as their total credits stood at ₦2.2 trillion and ₦1.4 trillion for the period under review. However, the Education and Mining sectors got the lowest credit allocations.

Nigeria’s Real Estate Sector is growing nonetheless – Without a doubt, the real estate sector has continued to be one of the most important sectors in the Nigerian economy.

Figures have shown that the sector contributed immensely to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP). For instance, in 2018, it contributed ₦1.26 trillion to the country’s national income.

Moreover,  the sector grew by 38% between the first and last quarter of 2018.

However, the percentage contribution of real estate to GDP declined to 6.41% in 2018 from 6.85% in 2017. Notwithstanding, the real estate sector is engulfed with big potentials.

What analysts say – In developed climes, the mortgage sub-sector plays an important role in stimulating the real estate sector.

But while there have been several mortgage schemes and initiatives in Nigeria , the impact has remained somewhat unfelt.

In the meantime, investment analysts have expressed different views on the outlook of the real estate sector. Executive Director and Co-founder of Pertinence Limited, an investment firm, Mr. Sunday Olorunsheyi, said earlier in January:

“it will be difficult to project the fortunes of the real estate sector, owing to factors such as lack of clear and consistent policies from regulators and a high degree of uncertainty, especially due to the general elections.”

On the other hand, the Chief Executive Officer of Lifepage Group, an investment holding firm, Oladipupo Clement, scored the industry high.

“More landed properties were sold and bought in 2018 than apartments and houses, due to high capital requirement and cost of fund.

Despite uncertainties, such as a decline in oil prices, political instability, inflation and the rising cost of funding, the real estate sector will still thrive.”

Windfall for investors and the growth potentials– If you ask me, I would say the Nigerian real estate sector is what you may want to invest in. Investors in the real estate sector are likely to smile to the banks soon,  as they get returns on their investments.

Generally, Nigeria’s real estate sector was sluggish in 2018 because of the lull in the nation’s economy. Real estate experts will likely experience better performance this year because of improvements in the economy, and the anticipated political and economic stability in the country after the just concluded general elections.

There was excess liquidity in the economy during the election period. Recall that the President recently expressed concerns over the huge amount of foreign currency flooding the country, intended to influence the general elections.

As the general elections wound up, the movements of both foreign and domestic currencies for electioneering processes will likely spread and drive patronage in the residential and commercial angles of the real estate sector. Eventually, what this does sometimes is to pressure the price of estate properties to increase, which implies higher revenue for investors.

Similarly, 2019 will spark the beginning of new governments in some states across the federation. These states will have either consolidated or new policies, which may drive economic activities uniquely away from past administrations.

Again, contracts and appointment lobbying will also form a block on its own. All these interplays are likely to redistribute income in some ways, and the real estate sector is likely to benefit in no small measure.
How the economy reacts- Growth in the real estate sector in Nigeria will have impact on the economy significantly, from the jobs it creates to revenue generation.

Specifically, the real estate’s multiplier effect in terms of job creation is significant. Also, real estate activity stimulates the economy indirectly through the value-added impacts of the purchase of goods and services that stem from real estate-related businesses and transactions.

Source: Nairametrics

EDPA revokes sublease deeds of 24 abandoned properties in BDPA Estate, Ugbowo

The Edo Development and Property Agency (BDPA) has revoked sublease deeds of some abandoned properties in the Bendel Development and Property Authority (BDPA) Estate in Ugbowo axis of Benin City, the state capital.

The agency said that the deeds were revoked in line with the clauses 2(j) and 3(a) of the deed of sublease and following several abandonment notices published in local and national newspapers.

In a statement by the Executive Chairman, EDPA, Isoken Omo, the agency said that trespassers on the revoked plots will be prosecuted, asking those with enquires to contact the agency for further clarification.

The affected plots are located on A close, 9th, 18th, 11th, 19th, 2nd, 14th, 16th, 7th, and 15th streets.

According to her, “The general public’s attention is by this notice drawn to the fact that the following abandonment notices placed in the Observer Newspaper of May 2, 2018 (page 9) and ThisDay Newspaper of May 2, 2018 (page 47) and Final Notice to Repossess Abandoned Properties at BDPA Estate Ugbowo, Edo State placed in the Vanguard Newspaper of January 21, 2019 (page 28) and the Observer Newspaper of January 22, 2019 (page 19), the subleases of the following properties have been revoked forthwith by Edo Development and Property Agency (EDPA) by virtue of Clauses 2(j) and 3(a) of the Deed of Sublease.”

The affected plots are: Plot 23, A Close; Plot 176, 9th Street; Plot 178, 9th Street; Plot 179, 9th Street; Plot 181, 9th Street; Plot 182, 9th Street; Plot 261, 18th Street; Plot 172, 11th Street or Lucky Street; Plot 41, 3rd or 19th Street; Plot 100, 3rd Street or 19th Street; Plot 101, 3rd or 19th Street; Plot 87, 2nd Street and Plot 229, 14th Street.

Others are Plot 230, 14th Street; Plot 224, 16th Street; Plot 148, 7th Street or Jonathan Akpoborie Street; Plot 72, 7th Street or Jonathan Akpoborie Street; Plot 159, 11th Street; Plot 167, 11th Street; Plot 186, 15th Street; Plot 132, 7th Street or Jonathan Akpoborie Street; Plot 195, 15th Street; Plot 146, 7th Street or Jonathan Akpoborie Street and Plot 104, 3rd or 19th Street.

Source: VanguardNgr

London’s Real Estate Market Stutters as Brexit Kills Dealmaking

London’s commerical property market has become the latest casualty of Brexit.

Spending on U.K. offices, malls and warehouses plunged more than 40 percent in the first two months of the year to 4.3 billion pounds ($5.6 billion), according to research firm Property Data. With less than three weeks left before the U.K.’s scheduled withdrawal from the European Union, buyers are watching to see if the attempts to prevent a chaotic no-deal withdrawal will succeed.

While the U.K. Parliament prepares to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest Brexit proposal, about 6,000 U.K. real estate professionals gather on Tuesday for the annual MIPIM conference on the French Riviera. In previous years, this was typically a flurry of deal-making, but this year’s gathering in Cannes will be held under a cloud of uncertainty.

“I don’t think there are too many investment committees out there who want to commit a large amount of capital when there is a belief that within 30 days all will be clear,” Andrea Orlandi, a managing director in charge of European real estate for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, said in an interview.

Brexit Impact

The wait-and-see attitude has translated into reduced sales and delayed leases. Purchases of City of London offices were almost a third lower than the five-year average in the first two months of the year, according to Savills Plc. Leases for space in the financial district dropped 42 percent in January from a year earlier, the broker’s data show.

“We’re definitely seeing fewer deals coming in, and we’re having to be selective,’’ Dan Riches, director of real estate finance at M&G Investments, said in Cannes. “Brexit has been around for two years, but as the deadline approaches, it certainly focuses the mind.’’

Even if Parliament approves May’s deal, rents for the best buildings in London’s main financial district will probably drop by 4 percent this year because the political turmoil has already taken a toll, according to asset manager DWS Group GmbH.

 

Real-estate funds have also taken a hit. Investors have pulled 1.1 billion pounds out of these funds since October, according to Calastone. Redemptions are now taking place at a faster pace than in the aftermath of the June 2016 Brexit referendum.

Yet while U.K. transactions decline, investors have continued to pour money into other European capitals, pushing prices to record levels. Yields on the best office buildings in Berlin are now about 3 percent, making them substantially more expensive than those in London. If lawmakers deliver a Brexit deal, that gap could start to look very attractive to global investors.

“I don’t think there is any shortage of capital,” said Julian Agnew, U.K. chief investment officer for LaSalle Investment Management Inc. “One way or the other there should be more activity once we have clarity, whatever the outcome.”

Source: Bloomberg

India: Govt set to tighten tax net on real estate

Taking cognisance of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report on tax evasion in real estate, the Finance Ministry is in the process of introducing strict compliance rules in order to bring more real estate developers under the tax net. A CAG tabled last month had said that 95 per cent of developers are outside the income tax net and noted that the Income Tax department has no mechanism to ensure that all registered companies have PAN and are filing their Income Tax Returns (ITRs) regularly.

 

 

“The CBDT has taken note of the CAG report. The numbers are alarming. The department is planning to take a series of steps to ensure better compliance among real estate developers,” a senior official in the finance ministry said. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is also planning to set up a committee which will look at the necessary reforms required. “The sector is also a nesting place for parking black money. The department is planning to initiate proper listing of the companies, its board of directors and the PAN number,” the official added.

The CAG had based its report on 54,578 companies for which data was made available for the audit. “ROCs did not have information about PAN in respect of 51,670 (95 per cent) of a total of 54,578 companies for which data was made available to Audit,” the report noted.

“There is no mechanism with ITD to ensure that all the registered companies have PAN and are filing their ITRs regularly,” it went on to point out. Officials also added that the I-T department will work closely with the Ministry of Corporate affairs to update the databases with income tax filed by these companies.

The department is also looking at the rampant mistakes in assessment which had cost the exchequer. “Out of 78,647 assessments made in the period, we checked 17,155 assessment records with assessed income of  Rs1,02,106 crore… We noticed 1,183 mistakes having tax effect of Rs 6,093.71 crore, thus causing loss of revenue to the Government,” the CAG report had added, also flagging weak enforcement of income tax law.

“The system to ensure compliance of filing of ITRs by the sellers of high-value immovable properties was not effective. The enforcement of provisions in respect of filing AIRs… by the ITD was weak,” the CAG had observed.  Officials also hinted that some of the initial recommendations may be included in the Direct Tax Code, which is likely to come into effect by June this year.

Source: The New Indian Express

Banks in UAE to experience rise in losses as real estate prices decline

Banks in the United Arab Emirates are expected to experience a rise in loan losses over the next 12 to 18 months as a decline in real estate prices and rising interest rates reduce borrowers’ cash flow, Moody’s said on Tuesday.

Residential property prices in Dubai have been falling since 2014 on high supply and weaker demand, forcing construction and engineering firms to cut jobs and halt expansion plans.

Increased lending to the sector, partly due to the construction of large developments and infrastructure projects ahead of Dubai’s Expo 2020, has coincided with the market downturn, said Moody’s.

Lending to real estate increased to 20 per cent of total lending at the end of 2018 from 16 per cent in 2015.

“This rapid expansion in lending has deepened the indebtedness of the construction and real estate sector, increasing its vulnerability to potentially higher financing costs or to liquidity tightening,” said Moody’s.

Banks are expected to set aside additional loan-loss provisions, as lower property prices reduce the value of real estate collateral that banks hold against their lending.

However, Moody’s estimates risks for UAE banks will be moderate because of tighter regulation on real estate exposure introduced since the 2008 financial crisis.

“UAE banks also benefit from high buffers in the form of strong capital and solid profitability,” it said.

Source: Gulf Business

Dubai Real Estate Giant Emaar to Launch ETH Token, Considers ICO in Europe

Dubai-based real estate giant Emaar has announced plans to launch a token and is considering holding an initial coin offering (ICO) in Europe, English-language local media Arabian Business reports.

Per the article, the token will be developed by Swiss blockchain startup Lykke, and will grant Emaar’s customers and stakeholders access to the referral and loyalty system across the entire company. Emaar is the largest real estate company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), responsible for the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountain, Dubai Mall and Dubai Opera.

According to its Wikipedia page, Emaar Properties boasts a revenue of $5.83 billion and has been valued at $9.7 billion as of June last year. Moreover, according to Arabian Business, Emaar’s revenue grew by 37 percent last year to $7 billion.

The article further notes that Emaar will also consider holding an ICO in Europe within a year of the internal operational launch of the platform. The startup developing the token, Lykke, will reportedly comply with the ERC-20 standard and release it on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain.

Maud Simon, global head of human resources at Lykke, confirmed the plans to Cointelegraph.

As Cointelegraph reported in February, Emaar Properties has officially denied reports that it enabled crypto payments for property.

Also in February, the County Auditors’ Association of Ohio announced the formation of a working group to study the use of blockchain for the effective transfer of property deeds.

Source: Cointelegraph

Boosting capacity of real estate artisans

Over the years, Nigerian artisans have demonstrated high level of professional incompetence over the years compared to their counterparts from some West African and Asian countries, including Ghana, Benin Republic ,Togo, China and India.
Lack of capacity in terms of quality of jobs they churn out has become the weak point that has not only put their jobs on the line but led led to foreign artisans virtually taking over jobs, hitherto, done by Nigerians.
This has in turn worsened the unemployment situation in the country.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country’s unemployment rate worsened in the third quarter of 2018, rising from 18.8 per cent in Q3 2017 to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018.
It has also been estimated that far more than N10 billion is being lost annually to immigrant artisans, who have displaced Nigerians in construction sector.
To halt this trend, the Nigerian government has taken it upon itself to boost the capacity of local artisans in order to make them relevant and competitive for jobs in the construction industry.

Latest efforts
Blazing the trail is the Lagos State Government in collaboration with stakeholders in the industry to build the capacity of artisans for the construction sector under the Master Craftsman Project.
Having graduated 170 artisans in the first batch, the state government has rolled out another set of 350 trained personnel.
The Master Craftsman Project is aimed at addressing skill gap in housing sector in Lagos State.
Explaining the rationale behind the project, the Commissioner for Housing, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, said the scheme was aimed at scaling up professionalism of artisans in the state in order to meet up with current global trends.


Lawal said that the platform created an opportunity for artisans and workers in the construction industry to receive certificates after being trained to acquire 21st Century skills.
According to him, issues of quackery, quality of service, inappropriate charges, and unethical conduct leading to building collapse were considered and built into the curriculum to produce world class artisans.

Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s office, Mrs Yetunde Odejayi, who represented Dr. Oluranti Adebule, said that government had the vision of training 4,000 artisans. She disclosed that the state government was involved in PPP on affordable housing development, where 20,000 units are ongoing already. Through the project, she said that 60,000 bricklayers, 40,000 masons, 20,000 carpenters, 20,000 plumbers, 60,000 tilers, 40,000 painters would be required. Artisans to be engaged in the project, she assured, would come from the trained craftmen and women. According to the deputy governor, the Master Craftsman Project is an initiative of the state government to bridge the skills gap, in order to prevent foreigners from taking over jobs of technicians in the built industry.
Adebule stated that government was “determined to reverse the trend’’ of influx of foreign artisans, to ensure local artisans take back their pride of place in the built industry.

Beneficiaries’ views
Speaking with New Telegraph, one of the trainees, Mrs Folasayo Anjorin, a welder, said her skills on welding had been sharpened through the training programme.
Another trainee, Olubunmi Erinle, promised to make use of everything she learnt during the course of the training, appealing to government to give them jobs now that the training has ended.
Another participant, Mr. Orire james, a carpenter, said he had learnt more about the dictates of his job through the training.
He said: “They trained us very well and updated our knowledge about the latest innovations in the industry for about three to four weeks. We really gained a lot and this will really impact positively on our jobs.”
One of the tutors and retired lecturer at Yaba College of Education, Suraj Kolawole, said the artisans were taught many things that have to do with their jobs.
“We taught them most of the things they lost in the course of the job such as estimation, procedures, dealing with clients, team work, reality of the job they want to do and the risks involved,” the tutor said.
At the end of the programme, Kolawole said the trainees were asked to execute a project with the training centre. He said: “ We believed that these people would be able to achieve delivery of quality buildings.” Through the training, he said the nation would be able to reduce the number of foreign artisans and also boost morale of workers, adding that it would also prevent failure in building.

Federal level
At the federal level, Director General, C-STEmp Construction Skills Training and Empowerment Project Limited, Anthony Okwa, told New Telegraph that about 6,000 artisans had been trained directly, while more than 24,000 have been facilitated. He stated that the training programmes for the artisans in the construction industry have been going on very well especially with the recent support from the Presidency through the Npower Build Program involving the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), which has encouraged more school leavers and girls to participate.

Okwa stated that the Npower job creation programme of the Buhari administration was being delivered in about 400 centers across the country under the auspices of Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) with his agency’s active support. He disclosed that the agency through the training was trying to change the attitude and disposition of beneficiaries, and current low regard for artisans. To this end, he said the agency had instituted artisans awards “which aims at according them due recognition and rewarding excellence.” On the prospects of artisans after the training, Okwa said: “In all spheres of human endeavor, Nigerians have been known to excel, and with the training gaining international attention, we are beginning to receive enquiries for supply of Artisans to employers from outside the country.”

Expert’s view
President, Nigerian Institute of Building, Kenneth Nduka, said since technology has ever been dynamic, it would amount begging the question “if one accepts the current quality of artisans as being satisfactory.”
He warned that the present situation where foreign artisans dominated Nigeria’s construction sector spelt doom for the economy.
According to him, the implications meant loss of jobs for Nigeria’s nationals and loss of revenue through capital flights. Besides, he said other implications included security challenges, near absence of indigenous capacity to deliver on projects, and dependence on foreign dictates for the implementation of infrastructural development initiatives.


On what must be done to change the narrative, the NIOB president stated that it would require responsive investments on all diverse human capacity and skills development initiatives.
Aside, he said it would involve the creation of motivating opportunities and convenient inclusive environment that will serve the desired stimulus for constructive engagements and deployment.
Nduka stated that funds in terms of transferred earnings that should have otherwise been invested in Nigeria, as well as the multiplier economic opportunities that would attract values to the GDP of the country, were being lost as capital flight to foreign countries.
He disclosed that NIOB had collaborated with Nigerian Board of Technical Education (NBTE) and CORBON to establish the National Occupation Standards for relevant skills for the building industry.
He said: “NIOB having been granted an awarding body status by the Federal Ministry of Education,through the NBTE, is currently on a country wide quality assessment exercise to evaluate all the N-Power build artisans.
“Registration of training centers for Building construction skills are on going. Above all the institute is mobilizing and encouragng her members nationwide to key into the training for Quality Assurance Assessors currency being driven the National Board for Technical Education so that the objectives for quality skills standardisation in the building construction Industry could rightly realised.” Quality craftsmen in any nation, Nduka said, guaranteed safe built environment, populated with cost effective, quality radiating, image enhancing, productivity promoting, elements protecting, secure, aesthetic and needs satisfying building infrastructures.


“Above all, the political, economic and social potentials of the country would enjoy a positive boost since the skill we have could massage our infrastructure development strides and accordingly excited diverse opportunities for developments and growth maximisation,” he said.
Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Rotimi Ogunleye, urged the grandaunts to uphold construction ethics to stem incidence of building collapse.

Last line
Through training and retraining programmes, Nigerian artisans in the construction sector stand the chance of competing very well, if not better, with their counterparts all over the world.

Source: NewTelegraph

Professionals seek for revival of Nigeria’s real estate sector

This is not the best of times in the nation’s real estate sector, as it has continues to slide negative despite insinuations that the country has exited recession. For instance, in 2018, the sector witnessed downturns largely due to several factors ranging from government macro economic policy to over-supply in commercial and retail sectors as well as inappropriate supply in the residential sector.

This also impacted negatively to the sector’s contribution to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).The latest GDP figure shows a negative growth of -2.68per cent at the end of October 2018 and the Q3 contribution to GDP dropped from 7.09 per cent in Q2 to 6.88 per cent in Q3.

With the conclusion of the presidential election, which saw the incumbent emerged winners, experts in the sector urged the Buhari administration to come up with more robust policies, programmes that will revive the sector and reposition it as the second largest employer of labour behind agriculture.To these experts, housing is a sector, which seriously deserved appropriate intervention from government.

According to them, international standards have set the maximum amount that can be dedicated from a workers’ salary, which should not exceed 30 per cent of the gross pay. Regrettably, rents for descent accommodation in most urban areas in Nigeria exceed this benchmark. The immediate past president, Nigeria Institute of Architect, Tonye Braide said housing is a starting point in ameliorating the high living standards in urban centres.He stressed that when rents are excessively high, alternative sources of earnings are normally sought, which leads to corruption.

Braide however believed that Government would take pragmatic steps in its second term to make housing affordable and available. According to him, simple economics states that where the supply rises and demand remain fixed the price should fall.“There are critical factors responsible for the high cost of housing. The first is land cost. The cost of land in most Urban centres are artificial. Speculation and greed are factors, which drive the prices.

“The actual cost of procurement of government acquired land is relatively low and affordable but speculation and greed push prices to figures up to 500 per cent.“The result is that in building an affordable house, the actual construction costs are almost at par with the cost of land. This should not be. Land should be no more than about 15 to 20 per cent of the cost of the final development costs.

“People buy land at highly inflated rates because so many are pursuing so few plots with appropriate infrastructure”, he said. Braide therefore urged government to embark on a massive public works programme, which should include development of site, and services housing projects to give access to cheap land complete with infrastructure.

According to him, Executive Order 7 should extend to urban roads and site and service projects.He stressed that Government can raise 40 year money to be secured against Land Use Charges and Property Taxes in order to present low cost serviced plots.Apart from that, Braide is of the view that government can change the age-long payment of compensation, which is being subjected to corruption, and replace it with a debt-equity swap

Communities, he said, can receive Schools, Primary Health Care centres or percentage of housing development thereon in lieu of direct cash compensation.Inner City areas should be redeveloped and zoning laws modified to allow for medium to high rise which will reduce the Land Constant in the computation of the disposal prices of the housing, while government should flood the country with small scale building component manufacturing plants.

To create employment, the renowned architect said there should be one SME factory making one building component or the other within 100 kilometers of every local council headquarters. This, he said, will also bring down construction costs because over 25 per cent of construction costs go to the logistics of transportation of the materials, while a reasonable reduction of cases of double taxation on building materials can be achieved.He further urged government to provide credit guarantees for affordable housing projects and put the onus of performance on the developer.

According to Braide, the developer must seek appropriate professional input to develop houses that will be acceptable to the public at a price that can be afforded. Developer, he said, gets paid upon hand over of keys to a willing buyer, while the credit guarantee scheme will be revolving to ensure constant chain inflow from the amortization process in the various mortgage schemes.

Braide is of the view that it will create a multitude of activity in housing delivery in Nigeria, creating a millions of jobs and put the development process directly in the hands of the consumers. “There will be no mark-up of digits in disposal prices. Affordable Housing output will rise by over 300 per cent as Current Operating prices will build up to three houses per lot.

“The launch of a massive housing construction project will fast track a parallel skills acquisition programme for youths as learning will be accelerated trough hands-on learning directly on the construction sites.“With the injection of 500,000 units of affordable housing every year, the current level of the minimum wage will become more meaningful as even the lowest paid worker will have access to an entry level one bedroom house”, he added.

Also, the Chairman, Estate Surveying and Valuation Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON), Sir Nweke Umezuruike, said the government should sincerely assess itself whether it has done well to continue the policies or if there is need to readjust in their policies for the next four years.

Describing housing as one of the very disturbing areas that should be tackled frontally, he said construction industry along side agriculture is two key areas all over the world that normally creates massive employment.

Unfortunately this aspect of these areas, Umezuruike said is not being tackled. He also regretted that over a decade, Nigeria has established itself, as a trading nation even though, there is no country all over the world that has made progress being a trading nation.He urged the government to change that attitude by leading Nigeria into more productive activities in the two areas of agriculture and construction industry.

According to him, taking a census of all our housing stocks is important in knowing our housing needs and how to tackle whatever deficit we have. “ As at today, it appears to me that there is no shortfall for supply of houses for the rich and so whatever short fall there is whether the 17 million or any other number we will come out with we know the housing stock we have the area we are lacking is for the masses.

“Government owes a duty to this country to engage in massive housing construction for the masses, those who cannot build for themselves. “We are often reminded how there are many vacant houses in Abuja, those houses are not there for the masses. They are made for the rich”, he said.

The ESVARBON chairman also want a change of policy in the area of provision of artisans because it is generally believed in Nigeria that the best artisans are those that comes from Benin Republic and Ghana.“ I want to see government to put together a positive policy that will train and empower Nigeria artisans. They should lead in the provision of housing.

“Private developers want to recover their investments within a very short possible time and the only way to do that is to build for the rich, those who can afford it. “The only way they can do it is to build and sell. Building and selling put Nigeria housing sector in cash and carry system, which cannot work all over the world.

“Government should enable the mortgage sector to work properly. “We heard that there are plenty of money about N8 trillion in the pension fund, what is that money doing there? All over the world, pension money is used for housing and we allow such money to un-utlised or for commercial ventures, which do not assist so much for the ordinary man”, he added.

For the 1st Vice President, Nigerian Institute of (NIOB) and Chief Executive Officer, Reo-Habilis Construction Limited, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, the economy has not been favourable to the real estate because most of our construction materials are imported and the value of Naira has made it almost impossible to import quality materials for building and for affordable housing.

According to him, at the just concluded international builders forum in Las Vegas, there were several attractive building materials and new methodologies but by the time you convert the prices to Naira, you discovered that it will be overall building production will beyond affordability, so it is very worrisome for most Nigerians at such fora. He urged the incoming government to seriously work on the economy and come out with favourable policies.

Source: Guardian

British Real Estate Agents Hit By Money Laundering Crackdown

Property is one of the ‘weak links’ in Britain’s defenses against money laundering and estate agents need to do more to close it, the Treasury Committee said last week.

A report released on Friday recommended the government take tougher action against ill-gotten funds flowing into companies and real estate.

Estate agents, the Economic Crime Report said, need to be better regulated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). “There is a risk that some estate agents may be unsupervised”, the report noted.

Ben Wallace, the Security Minister at the Home Office, said it was “absolutely the case that estate agents have been one of the weak links in the suspicious activity and money laundering schemes. They have not done nearly enough at all.”

Last week HMRC raided 50 estate agencies that it suspected of failing to register under anti-money laundering rules. One agency, Countrywide, was hit with a £215,000 ($279,326) fine for money laundering failures

“There has been a failure to properly protect the U.K. from proceeds of corruption being stashed in our property sector,” said Duncan Hames of Transparency International U.K. Speaking to the Treasury Committee, he said his organisation had identified £4.4 billion ($5.7 billion) of investment in U.K. real estate from “politically exposed persons in high-corruption-risk jurisdictions”.

The National Crime Agency has estimated that about £100 billion ($131 billion) of dirty money moves through or into Britain each year. That figure is debatable, however, as the Treasury Committee said it needed a “more precise estimate of the scale of economic crime in the U.K.”.

London Property Market Hit

London is the destination of most foreign funds in the U.K. Last week a report from estate agency Knight Frank said London was the world’s top ‘wealth center’ due to its global popularity.

However, not all of that money is from legitimate origins, and law enforcement agencies have started to crack down on properties bought with illicit wealth.

Last year, law enforcers used a new power—the Unexplained Wealth Order—to investigate how Zamira Hajiyeva, wife of an Azerbaijani banker, managed to acquire an £11.5 million house in Knightsbridge. Their salary was far from sufficient for such a purchase, they argued.

The Unexplained Wealth Order gives authorities the power to seize assets over £50,000 owned by a person “who is reasonably suspected of involvement in, or of being connected to a person involved in, serious crime.”

In another move against money launderers, the Home Office said last week it would make getting a visa tougher for wealthy investors. The Tier 1 Investor Visa is a favorite of wealthy persons wanting British residency. These changes “will better protect the U.K. from illegally obtained funds,” the Home Office said.

However, these moves weighing in on an already tough property market. Knight Frank’s Prime International Residential Index (PIRI), which tracks luxury residential markets, found London’s had declined by 4.4 percent last year. On the ranking, which was released last week, London stood just nine places ahead of Lagos, Nigeria.

Real estate prices have similarly suffered. Coutts, a private bank that tracks properties in London worth over £10 million, said the number of properties sold in this category had fallen 12.1 percent in the 12 months to December 2018.

While a host of economic forces—including Brexit—are to blame, many believe the government’s hostility toward suspicious funds has taken its toll.

“We all know that, at the moment, the prime central London market has collapsed,” Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark told the Treasury Committee last week. “So for those on the ground, perhaps in a small, niche company for whom the fees will be significant, will they ask too many questions, which could put people off purchasing.”

Source: Oliver Williams

How housing microfinance in Africa can improve quality of life

Access to adequate housing for low-income earners is a critical development issue globally. A safe and stable home is the first step to a productive, healthy life. Yet owning a home is beyond the reach of the vast majority.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the poor have very limited access to long-term financing for housing, which is almost invariably limited to commercial banks offering formal, multiyear mortgages.

Only 2.4 percent of the Kenyan population, for example, is able to afford typical loan rates. At the end of December 2018, there were only 26,187 active conventional mortgages in the whole country — the majority of which were granted to urban professionals.

In Uganda, which has a population of 42.8 million, the number was just 5,000 in 2018.

We are continuously exploring and innovating our approach to address additional dimensions of the housing crisis and encourage others to do the same.

Housing microfinance allows low-income families to improve their housing incrementally, as they can afford it. Through access to housing microfinance, households in sub-Saharan Africa can improve their housing and their quality of life.

That is the key finding of evaluations of a recently concluded six-year project in Kenya and Uganda.

Microfinance at work

Building Assets, Unlocking Access

The partnership between Habitat for Humanity and the Mastercard Foundation is aimed at making an impact on housing in Africa by enabling existing financial service providers to design housing microfinance products and housing support services that can be accessed by low-income families to use in the incremental improvement of their homes.

The objective of the project was to develop scalable and innovative housing microfinance to be replicated by other financial service providers in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project has enabled over 70,000 households to access housing microfinance products improving their shelter, living conditions, and social well-being.

The Building Assets, Unlocking Access project helped financial service providers to develop housing microfinance products for people living on $5-10 per day.

The participating institutions offered loans of $30-10,000 for improvements such as adding an extension, toilet or running water; finishing a roof; adding insulation; as well as for constructing a new home.

These products were designed for the vast majority of the population who live in substandard accommodation and are locked out of formal housing finance.

These households may possess a firm desire to improve their living circumstances and prospects, but can only afford to do so incrementally.

In Kenya, a study found that low-income women who took up the Nyumba Smart Loan offered by the Kenya Women Microfinance Bank used it to improve roofs and walls.

Nearly 30 percent expanded their homes, and around 9 percent built separate kitchens, As a result, overall housing satisfaction rose by almost 15 percentage points over just a one-year period.

In Uganda, the study found that the existing quality level of housing was already comparably higher than in Kenya. However, a 20 percentage point increase of clients used their loans to build separate kitchens. Overall housing satisfaction rose by 30 percentage points.

In addition, the improvements made by Uganda borrowers were not confined to their own homes, but frequently applied toward development or improvement of rental units.

These rental units contributed to increased income for borrowers — an unanticipated dynamic in our study and a fact that addresses the key concern many have that housing microfinance diverts funds and resources away from income-generating activities.

Improved homes mean better health outcomes too. In children younger than 6 in Kenya, significant decreases were found in vomiting, sore throats, and rashes, all illnesses associated with allergies and poor environment.

In Uganda, however, these health improvements were not observed, with evaluators noting that it can take time for health indicators to become evident.

Janet Maritim, a farmer in Bomet, western Kenya, said: “It has been a huge relief not to worry about the health of our children. In the old house, the cold air that ran through the rooms always made me fear that a flu would turn into a serious illness like pneumonia. It makes me happy to see the children thrive.”

Jane Migare-Miluka waited seven years for new housing to be completed. When it finally was, her name was not on the list of residents.

This is part of our six-piece Failed Aid series, which investigates citizen reports on failed or unfinished aid projects in Africa.

Improved housing can have a positive effect on children’s education, offering more space in which to study and making them less likely to miss school due to sickness.

Though it was too early for such factors to show up meaningfully in the survey, many respondents expressed delight with the impact their home improvements were having on their children.

A construction worker starting the walls of a house in the region of Machakos, Kenya. Photo by: HFHI

The business case for housing microfinance

Not only does housing microfinance align with the social mission of many microfinance institutions, it also makes financial sense, with 47 percent of institutions saying such loans have relatively the same profitability as more conventional microfinance loans, such as those for business or farming.

At Habitat for Humanity, we believe housing microfinance can reach far greater numbers of people.

The sustainability of these products will carry the impact of improved housing forward and the market is demanding more progress in this sector, as indicated by the recent announcement of $26 billion in investment pledges for housing in Kenya.

Two of the key partnering banks — KWFT and Centenary Bank — are posed to disburse an additional 50,000 housing microfinance loans or so over the next 12 months.

There are obstacles, of course. Other financial institutions will need long-term funding and guidance as they learn how to develop, market, and manage housing microfinance products for their markets.

To expand the product, institutions will need to identify adequate sources of long-term funding. Each market is different, and attention will need to be paid to designing loan products that suit local characteristics.

Also, awareness of the housing microfinance concept is still low. With skeptical looks, people ask me what this small-loan, incremental approach looks like in practice.

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The findings of these evaluations are a great step forward in addressing the skepticism and understanding the real impacts.

We are committed to sharing the opportunity that these products present for improvements in low-income housing. I am convinced this can become a major sector in the continent and do a great deal to relieve frequently poor housing conditions.

When I discuss what we have done in Uganda and Kenya at conferences and forums, I realize that this is but one part of a larger housing market dilemma.

We are continuously exploring and innovating our approach to address additional dimensions of the housing crisis and encourage others to do the same.

Source: Kelvin Chetty

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