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‘Delays in land title processing hindering development’

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MR. ADENIIJI ADELE is the President, Nigerian chapter, International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI).

MR. ADENIIJI ADELE is the President, Nigerian chapter, International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI). He is also the Principal Partner, Adeniji Adele and Associates and senior member, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. He spoke to CHINEDUM UWAEGBULAM and VICTOR GBONEGUN on the proposed International Real Estate Consultant designation for professionals in the industry, ways to resolve pitfalls in housing delivery and ensuring effective land administration in the country.

What has been the major objective of International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) since it came into being?

FIABCI has been in existence for some decades and with chapters in over 60 countries of the world.

In Africa, we have branches in Nigeria, Tunisia, Tanzania and South Africa. Ghana is in the pipeline and we plan to expand to other parts of West Africa.

We have an Africa region President and Nigeria chapter president for the association, which I currently oversee.

The Nigerian chapter came into existence in 1972, kudos to our founding fathers.

We are a non-political entity whose objective is to help members add an international dimension to their businesses.

FIABCI helps members acquire knowledge, develop networks, and optimize business opportunities all over the world.

Our members include, town planners, chartered surveyors/valuers, architects and business entrepreneurs, insurance experts, financial consultants and those who have something to do with real estate industry.

FIABCI unites all members under one-umbrella and share common basic values. We are against all forms of discriminations.

The association is becoming very proactive in sense that it looks at the needs of real estate members and share knowledge on the profession through experts’ contributions to current global issues in the industry.

FIABCI also gives room for transparency because we deal with various clients across the globe as well as add international dimensions to activities, especially as it concerns new innovations in real estate through business networking.

Currently, FIABCI is advocating for housing for all citizens, we believed that every Nigerian must have a home.

How do the FIABCI’s Business club of real estate professionals increase membership?

The business club is an arm of FIABCI and it’s all about promoting international connections through on-line and exchange of correspondence/collaborations among the professionals including those from the academics.

We ensure membership drive, get feedback from current members, keep existing members happy, provide a personalized membership card and bring the renewal process early.

It has become a brand because across the globe, especially in Europe and America.

A new designation known as the International Real Estate Consultant (FIREC) is being offered to practitioners in Nigeria, What are the benefits? Who can benefit from such awards, is it only Estate Surveyors and Valuers?

It will provide opportunity for interactions with professionals, whereby we will be exchanging ideas and forecasts in the market trends.

We will also compare and be able to focus on specific areas such as, housing, interiors or designs and other segments.

It broadens horizons and improves skills. Our principal members are from Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), we are about 100 members in the country now and we hope to grow by creating awareness and bring in lawyers, developers, real estate brokers and others as members.

This week, FIABCI is hosting the Federation International Real Estate Consultants (FIREC) programme on ‘Investment real estate and global real estate perspective’ in Lagos with international facilitators like, Principal, World Citizen Consulting, Bill Endsley, Former President National Association of Realtors, United States of America, Richard Mendenhall and President, National Association of Realtors, USA, Elizabeth Mendenhall expected to train our members.

It’s just an award to members who have completed an average of 40 hours in terms of academic reports, continuing education and what we called the Continuous Programme Development (CPD).

Once the professionals sit for the programme, they would have the certification.

The coming of these experts, would give opportunity for NIESV to enter into partnership and synergy like in the areas of exchange programmes that meet up international standards and best practices.

How do FIABCI ensure greater transparency and consistency within global property markets, especially in Nigeria? What could be done to issues of foreign firms having an edge over local practitioners?

We believed in open communication in dealings with all clients. All information must be correct and accurate.

That is why we have sought total collaborations with all professionals to have integration of ideas across the board.

As a member, if you are not transparent in business, you could be liable and sanctioned if your opinions are found to be wanting.

Local players in real estate need to improve upon the way we practice.

We can’t be talking about incursion until we improve on the way we do things. Local practitioners need to stick to the fundamentals of the principles/core values of the profession.

Foreigners don’t deviate from ethical standards; they examine issues very well and offer most innovative solution for clients.

But in this part of the world, we don’t even have adequate training, no international drive to increase knowledge apart from the local content.

We still need greater proficiency in the way we treat clients and carry out the business.

To move forward, we could create a synergy among us with a little mixture of international experts on board to make progress.

We also need to retrain and involve in specialization to be better than the likes of Broll and Knight Frank who are foreign operators.

We also need to reposition/rebrand ourselves and staffs for productivity as well as give value/solution to clients who transact businesses with us.

What is the way forward in solving Nigeria’s housing shortfalls?

The challenges in the industry hinges on so many factors, which include, environmental factor, government legislation and policies, administration of land, which is no longer available to common man.

The state governments control land and professionals also have a role to play.

Also the rising cost of development coupled with the huge issue of funding. Most states, local government and the federal government find it difficult to develop housing; so we need to seek for alternatives.

The most important question is, can the government make the land available to an average citizen at a cheaper rate?

Government affordable housing is not cheap for low-income earners and I don’t blame government because the cost of development, building materials for those units of housing is very high and the cost of paying labourers and artisans have gone up compared to what it used to be in the past. Urban migration has also increase the demand for housing.

Apart from that, the infrastructural deficits in Nigeria are very huge and frustrating.

We lack good road networks, poor drainage, planning and enforcement of zoning laws, potable water and electricity, access to low interest finance/mortgages among others.

If the infrastructure is available, it will reduce the cost of housing development by the public and private sectors. Resolving Nigeria’s huge infrastructural deficits, will improve housing provision in the country.

There is a kind of haphazard development everywhere; most of the local and urban centres are not well planned.

Each of the states should make land available to the federal government to build houses for the masses to cushion the effect of the huge number of units that is not available.

Government must decongest Lagos and other urban settlements and we should have various sub-divisions that are doing well like we have in the United States of America. Total land reforms are needed in the housing sector.

The year is gradually coming to an end, what has been the pulse of the property market. How did the market fair this year?

There has been lull in the market, and few pockets of sales. In terms of the retail segment, we don’t have new malls because the cost of building is no longer easy, let alone people taking them.

A lot of tenants who could not sustain the rents in mall are looking for smaller spaces.

The issue of sustainability became a big problem in terms of power supply and other maintenances. The new trend is that mall must be a ‘one stop shop for everything’.

In the residential segment, not many people are buying properties this days, people are trying to be careful despite the fact that prices are a bit low in highbrow locations like, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Victoria Island among others.

The big boys are crying and there is capital flight. The stock market is a bit down too, in the past two weeks, it has been on the negative side.

People are moving out because of the political uncertainty and this has been the trend since the beginning of 2018.

CBN warned recently that the economy might fall back into recession, how will it affect the real estate sector if their predictions come to reality?

Certainly it will affect the industry because most of the construction works would be abandoned due to challenges of funding.

As a matter of fact, that would worsen unemployment rate and most of the professionals may not get work again.

There would be quackery in the industry on a large scale. Existing facilities may also decay and occupancy ratio of properties would go down because people will find it difficult to pay their rents if there is any recession again in the built industry.

Professionals would need to be very resilient, upright in dealings, keep the client through value addition to service and be focus to be able to survive and get a lot of referrals. Operate an open book policy.

In Nigeria less than five per cent of the land holding is titled. What are the challenges and how can the governments ensure effective land management?

The poor land management system is as a result of bad administration and poor education about land administration.

We need to ask how much funds are set aside for land administration system in any given state on yearly basis.

States face a lot of challenges in terms of documentation, archiving, and managerial capacity as well as land information/card index.

A lot of people would want to do transaction on land but because there are no titles, most banks wouldn’t attend to their request.

A lot of delays are encountered to get titles on land. Government needs to go back to the drawing and ensure effective electronic land title and Certificate of Occupancy application process.

Delays in the processing of land titles hinder developments and reduce governments’ revenue.

Having a good administrative capacity for land management. Plan for sustainable management of land and other natural resources on and beneath the land.

Improve market access, regulations, governance and reform land ownership with productivity and inclusiveness in mind.

We also need policy sustainability on issues of land administration. As long as we have many bottlenecks, investors would be cautious to invest their money in the sector.

What are your predictions for Nigerian real estate in 2019?

I’m not a prophet, but I must say that if we have a stable government, the property market and the economy will improve.

Importantly, by the time we get to the second and third quarters, if there is stability, the economy will be better.

The main factor is infrastructural deficits; government must aggressively address the problem and improve legislations as it affects land matters.


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