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Experts seek enabling environment for investors in real estate

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Eggheads in the sector have called for improved operating environment for operators in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) to maximise rental income and ensure capital appreciation.

The experts urged regulators to provide cheaper process of registering property and providing of basic infrastructure for developers in the industry.

They spoke during a REITs webinar themed “Real Estate: Innovative Financing Solutions Post COVID-19, organised by the founder of Eximia Realty Company Limited, Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran. The forum was also used to launch the book titled “The Law and Practice of Real Estate Investment Trusts with highlights from African models” authored by Ogunniran.

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Leading the call, the Principal Investment Officer at International Finance Corporation (IFC), Ifeoma Ezeokafor, argued that clear regulations by government on how REITs should work, would boost its performance and encourage more investors to commit funds to such asset class.

Ezeokafor, who specialises in project and corporate finance, said providing more information about REITs to investors and setting up of REITs associations in the country would go a long way in enhancing productivity.

She observed that real estate opportunities would continue to open up and predicted future growth in the sector to come from warehousing, data housing, and student accommodation, stressing that such sub-sectors would enjoy free flow of institutional funding.

She said: “The need for real estate will not disappear but there would be a shift. We should educate the market that the use of technology to build fast doesn’t affect housing quality”, she said.

The finance expert disclosed that IFC was making efforts to encourage green investment in the industry.

The Head, Real Estate Finance-Africa Regions at Standard Bank Group, Adeniyi Adeleye, said economic sustainability and enabling environment for building cheaper houses for people to buy in, are important for investors.

He lamented the low penetration of mortgage in the sector, adding that government needs to bring down the cost of construction.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, Landmark Africa Group, Paul Onwuanibe, stated that for a better sector, diversification, environmental responsibility and experience-based development are vital for investors and home buyers.

He said that real estate poorly leverage on technology in Nigeria because of the absence of data services and transportation infrastructure. He noted that property services should embrace technology more.

The Chief Executive Officer at Liberty Two Degrees/founder of Women’s Property Network, South Africa, Amelia Beattie, said operators must work together, to educate one another and deploy advocacy to bring about better development for the industry. She also harped on good leadership for the industry to move it forward.

She advised operators to leverage on technology for real estate growth and strengthening of the regulatory environment.

“We should continue to educate investors to meet their expectations from the market. In the space market, occupancy remains key. It’s very important in COVID to continue to keep our properties occupied either in office or residential space. Financiers look for occupancy because that drives the income,” she said.

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