The challenges, motivation and why I chose luxury real estate – Sijibomi Ogundele
After almost 15 years of living abroad, I knew that moving back to Nigeria would not be an easy task; I had worked on many projects- project management, project financing and venture capitalism; with this experience, I wanted to do something different in the Nigerian luxury real estate market.
One of my greatest motivations was when I had visited my aunt’s brand new house in Banana Island and it needed a complete renovation. This reawakened my passion and dream of changing the landscape of the real estate industry in Nigeria.
The goal was to bring all my international experience into redefining the way people lived in Nigeria. I was lucky to be back when Nigerians were tired of the mediocrity they found in the so-called ‘luxury’ properties and they had started demanding value for their money.
It was very clear to me at the beginning that luxury is not expensive, but it is the intention to deliver luxury that is expensive. With top quality housing at a shortage, my aim was to develop properties which matched or even topped most of the ones we see overseas today.
I spent months making sure that I studied the industry thoroughly because I certainly could not have made permanent decisions without knowing what I was getting myself into. I had just moved back to Nigeria after having lived in Paris for a couple of years and I was hoping that my moving back was not a ‘one chance’ thing.
Learning from a master was key, I wanted to study the best in the market, and so I decided to check into one of the most luxurious and expensive serviced apartment in Lagos owned by Cadwell (West Forster Harbour on Queen’s Drive). I visited other developments; many were disappointing and few were challenging. I studied the mindset of the management staff; this helped me have an understanding of the Lagos luxury real estate market.
Over the years my research did not end there; I continued to travel abroad from Dubai, Johannesburg New York and China; I stayed in 5-star hotels, visited many condominiums. I realized that quality, attention to detail and sophistication were served à la carte. At this stage, my only dream was to make things better when I returned to Lagos. It was clear to me that anything lower than luxury was not in the Sujimoto DNA.
Ikoyi, where our main focus is at Sujimoto, has become the Manhattan of African real estate. We knew that for us to become the Trump, the Emaar and even the Candy Brothers, we needed to make quality and luxury the foundation of who we were.
Whilst growing up, I knew that poverty was my biggest fear and for me to be successful, I needed to take my destiny into my own hands. My inspiration comes from many places, coming from Agege to Ikoyi, I felt most stimulated by the growing number of billionaires with mega houses.
Nigeria has an increasing number of luxury houses from the recent Tony Ezenna multi-billion-naira house to the Alakija’s, Dangotes, Adenuga’s and many more. In this era of social media where you can show off your luxury home, many Nigerians don’t just want the promise of luxury when investing in a home. They want an undeniable value that speaks volumes even to the stranger on social media.
At Sujimoto, we do not just buy land to build and sell; we do what we call product development where we are not only focused on market direction but mostly on customer satisfaction. Our philosophy is not to do things 10% better but 10times better. We will not be part of those developers whose profit maximization supersede value creation. All of our existing projects, upcoming ones and mega ones are extremely customer orientated, where we think about bringing value back to our clients.
In recent times, the bad economic situation of the country has had me think about investing in other sectors but nothing has enticed me enough to take me away from real estate. In the coming years, we have about 3 to 5 projects; a Banana Island project with about 14 units of maisonettes and 2 penthouses. We aim for these penthouses to be the best in Africa where each one will have a private mini-golf garden and a private pool. Leonardo which is set to be the tallest residential building in Banana Island will have 60 units of 17floors and 4 bedrooms in each apartment. The Lorenzo on Bourdillon, a private Cabaret and restaurant; where we will bring the ultimate experience of feeling like you’re in Dubai or Paris.
Moto Sanitary Ware and last but not least, ‘The S’, an African hotel similar to the W Hotel infused with the Four Seasons’ services and standards, we believe ‘The S’ will be the number one pit stop when it comes to luxury hospitality in West Africa.
We can see that we are going through the toughest time our nation has ever faced, especially the political scene. We know that real estate is affected directly with economical developments; Nigeria has seen a downturn in its real estate market but it is also the most consistent market that’s seen the highest stability and growth. In Banana Island and old Ikoyi, you see that houses and land have increased in value.
Luxury real estate will continue to receive attention in the coming year with top luxury locations like Ikoyi, attracting a larger number of investments. Nigerians are beginning to realize that luxury is more than just the house; it is the location.
Do you intend to own a luxury home?
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