Experts advocate clear-cut policy on real sector

Experts in the Real Estate Sector of the economy have expressed diverse views on the federal government’s policies and programmes in the sector.

In separate interviews in Warri, Delta state, they called for robust policies and programmes to effectively drive the industry.

According to them, not much has been seen from the government in real estate development in the past year, adding that the government should make the sector a priority.

The Vice Chairman, of the Association of Professional Body of Nigeria (APBN), Delta state chapter, Mr Lewis Afolabi, urged the federal government to evolve clear-cut policies in the real sector.

Afolabi, who expressed displeasure over the federal government’s lack of policy direction in the real estate sector, said the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway was the only viable project this current administration had initiated in the real estate industry.

He said the massive coastal highway project was currently a controversial issue in the public domain, adding that when the federal government initiates clearly stated policies in real estate, Nigerians would key into it to drive growth in the sector.

Afolabi said real estate is a critical sector of the economy that deserved major attention and urged the government to make it a priority.

“The federal government has no policy in real estate except the Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway. This is more or less a controversial issue in terms of the volume of compliance to due process, procurement and Environmental Impact Assessment (EAI).

“This is a multi-billion Naira project. For the first time, we as a nation are having a project that gulps more than N15 trillion, which tells you how massive the project is. Since the commencement of this administration, we have heard about housing projects more on the pages of Newspapers than on the ground,” he said.

Afolabi said the devaluation of the Naira had affected the real estate business, noting that the cost of production had skyrocketed due to the weak exchange rate.

He said most of the companies that produced materials in the real sector import their equipment including raw materials at exorbitant costs.

“Most of those importing directly are doing so at a very high cost. The factories that were producing tiles and other real estate materials have liquidated due to poor electricity.

“So, when you say policy, there is no clear-cut policy because the government has not come out to say this is the policy on how we want the real estate to go,” he said.

He advised the government to liaise with the APBN at the national level and engage professionals in the various sectors of the economy.

Also speaking, Architect Sunday Osagie, urged the federal government to create more opportunities in the real estate industry and urged the government to work on the exchange rate to address inflation as well as the cost of purchase.

“Most of our roads across the country are in a deplorable shape. There is a housing deficit for Nigerians and there are no timeline policies to address that subsector.

The government should create purpose-driven policies and programmes for real estate.

“Government should also fund housing directly or by way of partnership with private developers to address those challenges going forward,” he said.

However, the Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Delta chapter, Mr Samuel Omiri, said the federal government had done well in the last year, particularly in the housing sub-sector.

Omiri said there were a lot of ongoing building projects in partnership with private developers in Abuja, and some other parts of the country to address accommodation problems.

“The federal government is partnering with private developers to ensure citizens have access to affordable housing in the Federal Capital Territory and some other cities in the country.

“The Minister of Works and Housing is working round the clock to ensure that the project embarked upon is not abandoned midway. Talk about the Lagos/Calabar Coastal Highway and other road projects.

“For now, I will rate the federal government above average because they are just one year in office, remember there is bureaucracy in the offices. So they are trying,” he said.

Omiri said the high exchange rate posed a great challenge to not only the real sector but every aspect of the economy.

“The high cost of cement and other building materials is worrisome in the real sector and this is caused by the high exchange rate.

“When the US Dollar was N1,900, a 12mm full length of the rod was sold for N15, 000 white 16mm at major distributors in Warri sold for between N24,000 and N25,000.
“Ordinarily, 16mm is supposed to be sold for between N9,500 and N11,000 depending on the size and standard of the rod.