May 23, 2011

Developers urged to focus on low-end housing market

By Yinka Kolawole

Real estate developers and investors have been urged to concentrate on the development of housing in the low-end property market as a way of facilitating easier access to home ownership by Nigerians.

Lagos State commissioner for Housing, Mr. Dele Onabokun, stated this recently at the commissioning of a private estate in Lagos. He lamented the situation whereby most developers devote their resources to the development of high-end properties, even when patronage for such properties is dwindling, and paying little or no attention to the low and medium income end of the market.

To underscore the state government’s preparedness to facilitate the provision of affordable housing in the state, the commissioner disclosed that a substantial portion of the state’s recently offered N60bn development bond would be used for provision of housing. He said that the state government is working hard to provide low-cost housing for its residents, adding however, that the cost of building materials is significantly impacting on the cost of housing delivery. “Lagos is currently developing many housing units. We have no control over cost of homes. In 2007, a two-bedroom flat cost only N2.5m, but now, it’s not less than N5m,” he said.

Onabokun also said that the state government is making every efforts to ensure that private investors get involved in the delivery of mass housing in the state, and debunked claims by developers that the processes of obtaining approval from the state were too cumbersome. We will give developers land as our obligation as a government. We realise we cannot provide homes for all residents of Lagos State alone without the developers. They must partner us. We are here to encourage them and give them more,”he asserted.

It would be recalled that Governor Babatunde Fashola, at the recent commissioning of an estate by a mortgage bank in Lagos, said his administration’s disposition to housing delivery is such that more citizens of the state would have access to windows of opportunities to realise their dreams of owning their own property.

He noted that it was the desire for the provision of affordable housing for all categories of Lagos residents that informed his signing into law in August 2010, a bill establishing the Lagos State Mortgage Board. He advised the Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs) to make their processes and services easily accessible by desiring borrowers. “We will implore mortgage institutions to make their processes less cumbersome in order to make more people key into their services and buy or build their homes,” he stated, adding that the Lagos State government had constructed housing units at Igbogbo, Baiyeku, Ikorodu, Gbagada and Ikeja to ameliorate the acute housing needs of the people.