Stakeholders believe that the Nigerian real estate sector ought to be more advanced considering the nation’s resources. The challenges to this growth and overcoming such are some of the issues that will be deliberated upon come October, at the third edition of the Real Estate Unite (REU) conference.
According to Ruth Obih, MD/CEO of 3invest Limited – a service real estate consulting and investment firm – organisers of the Real Estate Unite conference, the Sub-Sahara real estate market presents an attractive investment opportunity, considering Nigeria’s rebased GDP. She indicated that the real estate portfolio currently accounts for about 7.6% of the nation’s GDP and that it can be improved to be at 40% if better mobilized.
Obih, while addressing pressmen at a media press gathering recently to officially announce this year’s REU event and the conference highlights, said what 3invest and its partners aim to achieve at the 2014 REU is find ways to grow the sector through finance, infrastructure, red-tapism and education, thus the conference theme: ‘Igniting the F.I.R.E, where lies the key?’
“The two day event is a networking opportunity on an unprecedented scale to explore four key factors that we believe can catalyse the industry’s growth,” she said. “REU is a 3-tiered event hosting a conference, exhibition and awards with exclusive roundtable sessions.”
In arriving at the theme, stakeholders who are partnering with 3invest in different respect, explained that they had to discuss amongst themselves, look at the activities of real estate across the world, to find the gaps that needs filling in the Nigerian sector.
Chairman of the REU2014 Advisory Board, Mr. Peter Bankole, Director Enterprise Development Centre, Pan Atlantic University, noted that the continent has the youngest workforce across the world which can be successfully utilized.
“Real estate contributes to employment and that is one of the reasons why I am particularly interested because the more we are able to provide jobs the less likely we are going to have uprisings,” he said.
Mrs. Yemi Anyanechi, Managing Partner Sefton Fross, another partner for the event and Advisory Board Member of REU, said, in looking at trends across the globe, key indicators of finance should be recognized. “We focused on areas where they have gone from nothing to a lot in the real estate firm,” she said. “How did they get there? What did they do? How did they develop? How did they conquer their challenges? So we looked at issues that have been instructive then we framed topics largely around these issues. The idea is when we come in October, when the key stakeholders brainstorm and talk about it, will we be able to actually drive the progress of the real estate sector.”
When Mrs. Ajoke Ogunlaja; Head Corporate Communications, CMB Building Maintenance & Investment Co. Ltd. and sponsor of REU spoke, she explained CMB’s involvement was in other to bring affordable homes to Nigerians.
“CMB is a firm that targets those who cannot afford the luxury end of the market,” she said. “We are situated in the affordable housing of real estate. If you look in Nigeria, the middle class and the lower class can really not afford what we call houses in Nigeria and the four factors of F.I.R.E affect affordable housing.
“The reason why we are supporting 3invest is because we want to bring affordable housing to the everyday Nigerian, to the emerging middle class, to people who cannot afford this high end of the market.”
In financing real estate growth and promoting investments among individuals, 3invest CEO, Obih also divulged other interesting issues that will be discussed to ease investment. She mentioned mortgage insurance as a trend that can be introduced into the sector, which will be discussed at the Housing Finance Roundtable.
“Mortgage insurance is an insurance that compensates the lender,” she explained. “It is an insurance working with the mortgage company whereby before a lender lends money out, he already has insurance, in case the borrower defaults. So this is having the insurance companies, working with the mortgage banks so that more mortgages can be given out to help people towards owning their homes.
“Other ways to raise money for real estate, like scrap funding, will also be discussed. A group of people can pool fund together to develop a real estate and sell for interest. The whole idea is to teach people on how to pool fund together for investment.”
The REU which is also sponsored by Diamond Bank Plc. will also include presentation of awards to outstanding performers in the industry.
Munachi Okoye, MD of MCO Real Estate, the research partners for 3invet for the upcoming event, said the awards are in 12 categories that includes ‘Best Residential Project’; Construction Company of the Year’; ‘Best Real Estate Support Service’; etc.
“Ideally, what we are looking towards with these awards is raising the standard of real estate in Nigeria,” Okoye said. “We still have a long way to go if we talk of standards and this award is a very good mean of focusing on the best projects, people, companies in the real estate space, like putting attention on them and what they are doing.”
Also to be launched at the event which will hold on October 2-3 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos, 2014, is the African Women In Real Estate, A.W.I.R.E. The focus, according to Obih, is for increased inclusivity and representation of women in the sector.
Some of the stakeholders expected at this year’s event are keynote speakers, Babatunde Fashola, Governor of Lagos state and Akon Eyakenyi, Minister of Housing and Urban Development; Simon Walley, Senior Housing Finance Specialist, Word Bank; Sonnie Ayere, Managing Director of Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company etc.
3invest and its partners are hoping that with the annual REU, there will be noticeable growth in the sector as they continue to bring together stakeholders and analysts who can debate issues, agree and bring about change that will grow the sector in the right direction.