Experts seek enabling environment to grow housing sector
To unlock more growth in the sector, the Managing Director of Sabreworks ltd, Mr. Olusegun Philips has urged the Federal and State governments to provide an enabling environment that encourages local and foreign investments in real estate.
He called for a review of the Land Use Act, which he noted has been a stumbling block for investors.
Philips spoke on the sidelines of the unveiling of the firm’s ambassador, Banke Akinterinwa, who is a Nollywood actress and launch of Sabreflexx, a saving platform for accommodation in Lagos.
He explained that the decree is still a looming factor in the industry as a whole adding that it should be revised to cater to existing, changing values and dynamics of transactions in the sector.
The MD lamented that the act is slowing public and private external investments as well as the rightful intentions of genuine developers from participating in the industry.
“Why should a Land Use Act be used in a democracy? We need to look at the decree; it does not encourage fast-track OFlocal and foreign involvement in the sector. When the government allocates everything to itself bullishly, it doesn’t advance progress. It should be revised to make land use act or law to become usable and tenable by everybody.”
On the existing housing deficit, Philips said there was the need to extend the tenor of a mortgage from 15 to 30 years to allow more homeownership.
According to him, policies that encourage banks to review and increase the tenor of mortgage to a minimum of 20 years and at single-digit must be introduced to make the industry thrive. Phillips also encouraged Nigerians to develop the culture of saving towards homeownership as a viable solution to reduce homelessness in the country.
“Government needs to subsidise building materials and other things that have to do with construction to reduce prices of housing units. Incomes don’t meet with the increase in prices of things anymore. If I start a project using blocks and cement at N2.5m and in one year I’m buying the same cement at N4.1m, you can’t expect the price of housing to be the same because we are restricted to market forces of demand and supply”, he said.
On his part the executive director of the firm, Mr. Kayode Fagbadebo said with the reality that demand for housing exceeds the supply, the government and the private sector need to recognise that housing is one of the needs of an average Nigerian.
He said: “ We need to be more intentional about the sector. If we are trying to get food security right, we must also try to get affordable accommodation right, if not we will keep keeping miscreants on the streets. Affordable should come in the form of cheap rentals, funds for the sector should go to the right hands and there should be incentives for developers.”
With the launch of a cooperative housing development programme, he said the government has demonstrated intents to assist the industry but there was a need for a proper check to ensure that developers who have off-takers judiciously use the money.
For him, commercial banks should participate more in the sector while interest rates should be reasonable.
“Housing is a serious issue and it involves long-term investment. We need reasonable tax, land use charge and faster rate of approvals for projects”, he said.
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