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Access to mortgage financing key to economic growth, says Osonuga

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Mr. Oluwatobi Osonuga is the Managing Director of Chateau-Royal Real Estate Limited. In this interview with Assistant Editor, Finance and Economy, CHIJIOKE NELSON, he speaks on the trickling effects of a well-financed mortgage sector on the economy and government’s roles in using the growth-inducing sector for overall economic gains.

What are your thoughts about affordable housing?
My thought on affordable housing is simple. Low- and middle-class earners should be able to have where they can call their own without breaking the bank. Housing is very crucial given the radical increase in our population. The need for housing cannot be over emphasised as the need for shelter is paramount.

As a necessity, the purchasing cost should be considered and not overvalued to allow middle-class Nigerians to benefits.

To this end, government and private businesses like ours should on policies (from the government that encourages ease of doing business, etc) and innovation (from the private sector that helps drive cost downwards). That is why at Chateau-Royal Real Estate, we are committed to giving young minds investment opportunities to own a piece of affordable luxury, be a part of investors and smile in the nearest future by boasting: “I have got a shrewd investment”. We currently have two fast-selling projects Maplewoods Ibeju-Lekki and Peach Palms Abijo in the industry with unbeatable offers.

How true is it that players in the real estate sector have not been meeting the needs of the changing times?
To some degree, true, but largely not true. However, an ever focused team driven by innovation, the latest building technology, and trends around the world in the sector has been engaged by us, giving birth to some innovative milestones. I will also say that the sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors of this economy given its immense contribution to the growth and development. Though this sector is highly competitive and this is due to the different efforts and innovations various developers bring into play.

What solutions do you have with rising challenge of access to mortgage loans?
As regards access to the mortgage, I would recommend a single-digit interest rate. Currently, we have several mortgage facilities partnering with us on our projects. I also recommend a more flexible policy from financial institutions and government to help cushion the housing deficit in the country to also encourage sector players and investors with friendly policies.

Do you think that government is doing enough to encourage private sector participation in the sector?
To me, the government is trying, but I believe more can still be done in helping developers with mortgage facilities and friendly policies. The government should quit seeking the face of the people only during elections but should provide basic needs and necessities needed for economic growth and sustainable development. This would help the sector meet the needs of more willing investors in the sector and also cushion the deficit of housing.

How much of suitable and affordable housing for everyone, irrespective of their income do you think is achievable?
In retrospect, it is an ongoing concern primarily because of the cost of materials, professional fees, and other statutory commitments needed to deploy standard units to the populace but in a short while, that monopoly over the people would soon be broken.

However, through our team of ingenious young professionals, we have come up with cutting edge technology to create solid alternatives to the erstwhile conventional bricks and mortar and payment schemes flexible enough to accommodate your budget.

Due to our extremely suitable, affordable and flexible payment plan, we have made property acquisition easy for individuals from all works of life either using the property for residential purposes or for investment purposes.

More so, our major achievements are the rate our estates are fast selling within and in diasporas; Maplewoods Ibeju-Lekki with an initial deposit of N100, 000 with flexible payment plan for over 12 months with monthly installment of N60,000 and Peach Palms, Abijo, with Certificate of Occupancy that takes as low as N4.8 million to own a piece of its luxury.

What specific roles should government play to ensure affordability?
Like I said earlier, the sector’s ideals are achievable through innovation and deployment of technology and of course, some partnerships that have long term vision. In addition to the aforesaid, government partnership and ease of doing business in the sector would go a long way in determining the cost. So many companies like ours have to put into consideration the provision of adequate security, road networks, portable water, social amenities and power as part of their plan. 
 
These constitute a huge percentage factored into the housing units. Whereas, if the government had the basic infrastructure in place, what would be needed is just to plug our infrastructure into the existing one. Ask yourself where Dubai was in the 1990s. They were busy building the future with the support of their monarch (government) and within a short while, everybody needed a piece of real estate in that axis.

All these are possible when valuation and costing are not overpriced by real estate firms. Although I must commend the government in terms of the National Housing Scheme, a lot still need to be done as most Nigerians cannot still access the National Housing Funds because of the procedures. Therefore, I would advise the government to revisit the scheme’s processes and make it friendly and more flexible to achieve its aim.

Amid housing deficit, why are houses empty in certain areas in Nigeria and how can we change the narrative?
Exclusivity is the name of the game in high-brow areas and the choice or preference of any investor in the sector is really solely theirs. The desire to live in a certain environment is dependent on so many factors as such level of income, social status.

However, our firm is putting into consideration various factors like income level in determining the type of pocket-friendly structure to be put in place and not just setting imaginary figures that are outrageous in terms of purchasing power. We are currently playing within the low, middle- and medium-income earners; we are considering building an eco-friendly environment and also providing the best in class real estate solutions to all. The basic role I think developers can do is to give more flexible options to investors.

How can designs, layout and facility management be improved on?
This is one major challenge the industry has been facing over the years. A lot affects the standard of housing, like the drastically unstable cost of various building materials. This is a two-way challenge. I want to use this medium to encourage my fellow players in the industry not to take decisions in greed and for investors to be true in valuing what is being invested in. This would go a long way in reducing drastically the event of substandard deliveries in the industry. Also, players in the industry should try to keep to their words in terms of time, design, layout and facility delivery so as not to create a negative notion in the mind-set of investors.

What innovations are you adopting to counter the lull in the sector?
Anyway, the Nigerian market is very attractive and we are bringing investors from Diaspora and within the shores to help us actualise both our long term and short term goals. Also, we are partnering with some financial institutions to help access the best of mortgage facilities possible to our subscribers. There are also lots of other freebies targeted at the family and individual constituents of families as give away when you begin to subscribe with us.
 
Innovations in the sector can be witnessed mainly in structure and facility delivery. As a key player in the industry, we want to play our part in improving good service delivery like estate time-line delivery, eco-friendly environment and also focus on affordable luxury, which is the reason for the birth of Mapplewoods Ibeju-Lekki, which was as low as N100,000 with over 12 months payment plan and as little as N60,000 monthly payment for Peach Palms, Abijo GRA, with N1million initial deposit and a 12-month flexible payment plan with Certificate of Occupancy covering it. We are very intentional in making sure that we deliver on all our promises to all subscribers.

How are you strategizing against the industry’s data challenge?
Data research and collection is crucial and highly needed for proper planning. Inadequate statistics does not only affect the real estate sector only but it affects all other sectors of the economy.

Accurate data collection helps the sector in determining what exactly is needed in terms of structures as well as facilities by the investors in the sector. Although I commend the efforts of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics. A simple way of doing this is to be present effectively at all levels of government. This would help in the accuracy and consistency of data collection that would aid private players within the sector and the federal government in planning.


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