Godwin Okri, a lawyer turned property investment strategist with about two decades of experience as a property investor in the UK, USA and South Africa, has advocated provision of low cost housing across Nigeria as solution to the mind boggling huge deficit in housing in the country put at whopping 17 million units.
Okri who is the Chief Executive Officer, Menvo Homes Limited, a property company based in the UK and Nigeria, and a certified realtor in the UK and USA who made this disclosure at an interview with Vanguard Homes & Property in Lagos, said the housing deficit is about supply and not demand, adding that the gap can only be bridged if government at various levels is involved in the provision of low cost housing for low income earning Nigerians.
According to him, “Let the government build low cost houses for Nigerians and make them to buy through rent to own basis. Once they are working and you can deduct the money from their monthly pay through mortgage arrangement, and at the completion of payment for the houses, they become the owners of the houses. This is what happens in other countries. Let Nigeria look at what other countries are doing to address their housing challenges and do same”.
Okri who describes himself as a property entrepreneur, noted that “There are two approaches to bridging the country’s housing gap. One approach is to rectify our mortgage system, because of the 13 million transactions in the property market, five per cent of it is mortgage. This is very low.
“The commercial banks are not giving mortgages in Nigeria, and this is killing the first time buyers. First time buyers who want to buy property cannot buy since they cannot get mortgages.
“So, to bridge that gap, is to address the mortgage system in Nigeria, and this is a major issue our TV show will be highlighting. We will be making suggestions, and one of such suggestions is for the government to go to capital market to ensure that there is fund coming from the capital market to the banks.
“In other words, if you go to the capital market, there will be funds and commercial banks can get the fund and use it to make more money. This is how it is done in UK. On the supply side, the government should be the one building houses because the issue is about supply and not demand. So, let government build low cost houses across the country to address housing deficit in the country as it is done in other nations”, Menvo Homes boss stated.
Speaking on the TV show called ‘The Okri Property Show’ to be aired on TVC News with the maiden edition kicking off January 28, 2020, Okri said The Property Show is a thirteen-week programme, and the 13 episodes are going to cover all issues on housing in Nigeria such as mortgage finance, how you can save for property investment, homelessness in Nigeria and so on and so forth.
“We know that as at today in Nigeria, there is shortage of 17 million housing units. So, we need about 700,000 housing units every year for a period of time to bridge this huge gap according to World Bank.
“So, The Okri Property Show will offer solutions on the housing problems in Nigeria which include building collapse and quality of homes being delivered in the country. This is because the quality of a home determines the standard of living. Food and housing are fundamentals. The difference between human beings and animals is that we human beings have a place to stay or live in. These are some of the issues the TV show produced by Menvo Homes Limited will be highlighting.
“I started out as a lawyer, and I practised for more than 16 years representing banks in the UK to buy property. I am the one they used to send to court to confiscate property of those who refused to pay their debts. These property would be sold below market value.
“This is where I developed interest in property investment. I have a legal background and I see that property market is a very good ground for investment. Originally, I was trained as a lawyer, but because my journey had been tailored to property, I began to see that there is something to be gained in property market. My major development was building a block of six flats in Machester. “And again, then in Machester in 2002 and 2003, there was poor quality housing construction particularly in the northern part of Machester. Then I told myself I have seen the market, and we did some homes there. This further opened my mind and view about property market.
“In 2008, I did a seminar at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, about how to buy property in UK and America. And when I was in Nigeria, I saw the market and I told myself there is something here to be gained.
“Our TV show is for the man on the street. So, our interest is, how do you cater for the man on the street? The common man on the street is not a millionaire, but how does he get a quality house for himself?
“The TV show will change our mind set to begin to see how things should be done and not the way people think, because Nigeria is a great nation. I think the government should look at how other countries are doing things and getting results, and how to better the lot of the common man on the street..
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