‘Home ownership shouldn’t only be for the rich’
Nura DanMusa is a certified architect from the Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Cyprus, and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Constrix Real Estate Development Company, with over 10 years of working experience in design and building consultancy. In this interview with The Guardian, Nura, an Abuja based architect, talks about the challenges of owning a house in Nigeria.
Tell us about Constrix Real Estate Development Company?
Constrix is a Real Estate Development that specialises in design and construction of commercial and residential buildings. Our target is to see how Nigerians, especially the low-income earners, can become house owners without the regular feeling of impossibility due to the high- mounted cost attached to owing a good house in the country.
Why did you decide to go into real estate development?
My father was an architect who was very active in design and consultation, and as his first son he would always take me along with him to the site. So, consciously or subconsciously, I was led into the field and this made me naturally study Architecture in the university. So after my degree in Architecture, and considering the high rate of youth unemployment in the country, myself and two siblings who are no strangers to construction work, either due to the influence of our father, decided to work together having realised that the labour market was not the answer considering the rate of unemployment in the country. Luckily for us, real estate was thriving and with our experience, we drew up a business plan, involved three other partners and we started Constrix as a tribute to our late father whose consultation company had the same name.
How would you describe the Nigerian Real Estate Industry and its challenges?
The biggest challenge with Nigeria’s real estate sector is that nobody cares about the people, not even the government, not the banks or financial institutions, and not the landowners. Everyone only cares about his or her bottom line- how to maximise profit. And as developers, we care for two reasons. First, because we are part of the people, in fact that is why we got into the business to solve a problem.
Secondly, because we are the only ones that interact with the people on a daily basis, so we understand their challenges. However, most people involved in real estate do it for fat profit. For instance, most of these projects you see are done under a joint venture agreement, with developers and landowners. Now, because landowners are greedy and want to maximise profit, they over- value their land, which makes it difficult for a developer to build the affordable houses he dreams of delivering to the people.
As a pro in field, what are the challenges people constantly experience in order to own a house, especially low income earners?
Coming from a middle class family, I know first-hand the challenges of owning a house in Nigeria, especially in Abuja where I was raised. However, home ownership shouldn’t only be for the rich, because in developed countries, almost everyone owns a home, however small. So this fact is what drives our vision at Constrix, to deliver affordable housing to the middle and low-income earners in choice locations of the country, one city at a time.
How sustainable is your team’s vision of delivering affordable housing?
We have a team of people with different educational backgrounds and experiences. However, one thing we have in common is that we are all from a generation of middle-class parents. We’ve seen first-hand their challenges and that of our peers. So that’s what makes us so passionate to hit our targets and realise our vision.
What sets your company apart in the real estate Industry?
The first thing that sets us apart from others is our commitment to making Nigeria’s middle and low-income earners homeowners of affordable luxurious homes. Our affordable pricing sets us apart, our unique architectural designs, and more importantly our transparency and honesty with our clients. The fact that we’ve never borrowed a dime from any bank, or any investment house helps keep our prices in our control. All our projects are 100 percent off-taker funded. However, this has its own challenges as the economic situation may affect their streams of income, thereby causing some slight delay as it concerns timely delivery.
Are you working on any new project at the moment?
We are currently working in Lafiya, Nassarawa State, Jos, Plateau State, Guzape, Mabushi. We are almost finalising two new projects in Jabi district and Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. However, we deal with different challenges on a daily basis ranging from financing, to land owners disputes, others. Presently, we have challenges with our partner-land owner and still trying to resolve it. We currently have a project where we haven’t worked on site for six months due to internal problems between the landowners and us. So it’s a whole lot of challenges but we work around them.
What’s your advise for startups or investors who want to go into the field?
The basis of this field is passion. Do you have the resilience to go through the entire process of challenges and not give up? This is critical and my advice for young entrepreneurs is that you must be passionate about what you do. As for investors, it’s the patience to trust in the brand and be supportive. We also advocate for more investors to come into the real estate space. We can achieve great things in this country as it concerns providing affordable luxury homes with the right kind of investors.
What are some of the under-utilised resources for homebuyers?
Mortgage facilities, especially the National Housing Fund scheme by Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).
As a company, how do you measure Success?
Success for us is defined by the number of lives we’ve touched, from our employees to our clients who are living happily in homes we built. That is the ultimate success. To look around and see that you’re the reason someone owns a home and is smiling.
Do you conduct routine property inspections?
Yes. Our board members and management team at different intervals carry out inspections to ensure that the quality of our construction concepts and designs are adhered to completely. Also, the materials delivered to our sites are fully tested and meets the required standards.
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