HIGHBROW PROPERTY IN A LOW DENSITY RESIDENTIAL AREA

SMART CLUES TO HOUSING AFFORDABILITY PROBLEMS IN NIGERIA

Housing is one of the greatest problems confronting the developing nations generally, Nigeria in particular. Housing has been generally accepted as the second most essential need after food and is one of the basic needs of every individual, family and community in general (Aribigbola 2006). Stone (1993) succinctly observed that housing is not only a necessity of life, it has a pervasive impact on aspects of our existence, if it is adequate it tend to provide privacy and security against intrusions, both physical and emotional. It is the principal locus of personal and family life. It defines the community and determines access to jobs, to services, to stores, and other significant things to our lives. It contains not only our material possessions, but our dreams and despair.

Furthermore, real estate/housing affordability is defined as the notion of reasonable costs in relation to income: that is housing costs that leave households with sufficient income to meet other basic needs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education. It is also the ability of households to rent or purchase housing in an area of choice at a reasonable price, the capacity to meet ongoing costs and the degree that discretionary income is available to achieve an acceptable standard of living. Housing affordability is a key factor in determining a family’s access to economic and educational opportunities, exposure to violence and environmental hazards, and ability to accumulate financial assets. However the importance of housing affordability considerations goes much beyond the personal troubles experienced by individual households. According to Gabriel, et al. (2005) housing affordability has implications not just for housing but also for employment, health, labour market, aged care, finance, community, sustainability, economic development and urban and regional development.

The problem of housing affordability is enormous and as a matter of great concern. It is present both in the rural and urban centres. In the urban centres, due to inconsistent governmental policies, inaccessibility to lands and high cost of building materials there has been problems in providing affordable shelter for the people. At the level of household, the problem of affordability could force a household down the housing ladder or indeed trap such a household in a poor housing environment indefinitely. This exposes such households to all the danger and undesirable physical, health, emotional and mental consequences often associated with living in sub-standard, overcrowded and derelict environment.

Stone (1993) argued that there is a clear pattern of association between substandard living conditions and reduced performance in school and at workplace, which limits employment, career potential and opportunities within such affected households. These situations further serve to undermine and weaken the often fragile income base and tenure security of households with destabilizing effects on normal family life. These frustrations and backlashes could find expression in antisocial behavior and violence in homes, and family breakdowns. High housing costs in a city could frustrate and turn away creative workers (at the beginning of their careers) who actually drive innovation at workplaces. Thus, this critical innovative workforce could be forced to move away from such areas in search of more favourable housing market elsewhere (Communities and Local Government 2011).

Nigeria’s urban housing problems manifest in overcrowding, growth of slums and the development of shanties in virtually every major city. Housing problems vary from inadequacy to the attendant impact on the psychological, social, environmental and cultural aspects. Housing is capital-intensive; the cost of adequate housing is currently beyond the reach of most Nigerians. This brings the financial dimension – the question of affordability of housing. The challenge becomes not only to provide the houses but to make the houses affordable and convenient to the average Nigerian worker/citizen. It has been observed that the present economic condition of Nigeria has contributed to households earning low income to find it difficult to pay for housing services. Nigeria, a country with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $797 in 2006 (Microsoft Encarta, 2009) is one of the lowest in the world. With increasing unemployment, the expenditure on housing services has made it seem “unaffordable”. In Nigeria, explicit consideration has not been given to the need for justification in the affordability of housing services over the years.

Factors Affecting Real Estate/Housing Affordability

Socio-economic characteristic, housing types and condition, level of housing satisfaction and residents perception of housing affordability are the common indicators of real estate affordability problems in Nigeria. These are however discussed below:

  • Socio Economic Characteristics; income of household, occupation of household, household size and education are the chief socio economic factors that affect household’s ability to command desired housing choice. Hence, the importance of socio economic characteristics of households’ cannot be under estimated in the formulation real estate policy programs.
  • Housing Types & Conditions; Tenement, compound and block of flat housing types/apartments are the dominant housing options available to households in Nigeria. Also, majority of rental and ownership households are concentrated in buildings considered old fashioned while few number of ownership household’s occupied block of flat buildings accompanied with modern facilities and services and these types are commonly found in high class neighborhoods of Lagos, Abuja and Portharcourt. Most buildings occupied by higher proportion of households in Nigeria are considered to be over aged and some are in need of renovation and timely maintenance. Governments have low impact on housing provision in Nigeria as majority of buildings are owned by individual, family, cooperative groups/societies, Multinational real estate companies etc.         
  • Housing Satisfaction; researches revealed that longer housing distance to place of work without effective means of transportation, Functional desirability of buildings, adequacy and efficiency of housing services, housing expenses and service charges are considered not satisfactory to majority of households in Nigeria.
  • Housing Affordability; Major burdens of housing expenses in this country are considered to be paid by household heads and majority experience challenges in meeting other family financial demand after the payment of basic housing expenses. Majority of households perceive their housing expenses unaffordable when compared along with their monthly income. Investigation revealed that most of households’ source housing expenses through salary income considered too low for sustainable family living. Hence housing cost is perceived to exceed what could be afforded by majority of rental and ownership households in Nigeria

Final Conclusion and Recommendations

Conclusion

The underlying rationale for this write up is concerned with assessing households’ ability to afford housing costs in Nigeria. I have come to conclude that majority of households earn reasonably low wages, paid higher rents and trading and farming are the chief occupation in this country. Majority of the households are concentrated in face-me-i-face-you (Tenement/Brazilian) housing apartments characterized by unsatisfactory conditions and physical dissatisfaction. Therefore Housing is generally perceived not affordable to majority of Nigerians.

Recommendations

  • Government should provide mortgage loans at low interest rates to private developers and individuals in order to build habitable and affordable residential structures in various part of the country. This should comply with the National Housing Policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
  • Natural growth increase within urban centres themselves demands additional dwelling units to house the growing population. Hence, government should embark on massive low cost housing scheme through public/private partnership initiatives accompanied with government’s site and services scheme. This should be done in such a way that rental and ownership housing is affordable to low income and middle income groups in the country.
  • Provision of adequate and equitable urban land market that will foster of accessibility, ownership and use of land. The chronic difficulties in making urban land easily accessible to potential developers have entrenched systemic urban land speculation, which often drives up land and housing prices beyond the reach of an average household. Hence if government could provide equitable land market the problem of affordability will be reduced to some extent.
  • Provision of affordable building materials by the government; this will ensure that construction materials are affordable to an average Nigerian and prevent speculators from exploiting average citizen by skyrocketed prices. Hence, government should encourage other players in the delivery of building materials and frown at existing monopoly in the building material industry. The need to develop affordable local building materials should not be neglected by the government.
  • Review and effective implementation of existing National Housing Policy in such a way that it recognizes the need to encourage a multiplicity of other actors (corporate private sectors, civil society organizations, and individuals) in housing delivery and improvement process and also ensure provision of favourable investment climate for the private sector through reforming the housing finance structure, tax incentives, financial grants, redefinition of institutional roles, advocating vital legislative instruments and reforms, and encouragement of site and service schemes.
  • There is need for provision of legislation that will regulate building standards and ensure that over aged and other buildings with poor housing facilities and services are properly maintained and renovated for basic human habitation on timely bases.
  • Rent control panel should be set up by the government in collaboration with members of the community in order to prevent landlords from exploiting tenants and ensure that home lessees have access to rental loan facilities at lower interest rates simply because demand for housing outruns the supply, these increased housing cost beyond what a low income earner could afford. It should also be ensured that 1-2 years advanced rent payment by tenants is reduced to what can be afforded by the tenants.
  • There is need for the Federal Government’s introduction of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) through State’s Citizen mediation Centers or Multi-Door courts to other parts of the country by taking Lagos State Government as a suitable example. It is the in-thing in the modern world for solving landlord/tenants disputes that may arise from rental charges, service charges and related property maintenance charges. Instead of both parties resolving property disputes through exchange of abusive words and spending money and time going to court, many landlord/tenant related cases will be disposed off by the ADR. This will ensure that property related disputes are resolved without dissolving landlords/tenants relationship.
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BUILDING YOUR HOUSE FROM FOUNDATION TO ROOF LEVEL

Building a house can range from constructing a hut shelter with leaves or animal skin to the multi-storey place with dozens of rooms, bathrooms and other spaces that the house owner would request for. Since we are starting from the foundation level it means all other requirements needed for you to start building has been taken care of i.e. acquiring your land and paying all necessary dues and levies such as titles, survey plans, building plan and approval, layout etc. Sometimes people get designs for their houses before they even purchase the land, it all depends on the individual. But when it comes to designing a home there are some people who have been trained for it. Architects, builders, planners and engineers have special training and years of experience in designing houses, and are necessary for most building and zoning jurisdiction code requirements, but even if you contract their services, ultimately, the house you build will be built for you, so you should be involved closely in the design process. Here are some things to think about in the design stage of the project:

  • Number of bedrooms: For a family home where the possibility of additions exists, remember it is simpler to add a room during initial construction than to remodel or build an addition later. If you only need 2 bedrooms at present, an extra room might be used for an office, storage, or even left unfinished and unfurnished until such time as it is needed.
  • Number of bathrooms: In practical terms, one bathroom can suffice in almost any circumstance, but if the house is for multiple people, then any number you want would be okay, bear in mind that for every room there should be at least a bathroom or a bathroom to be shared. Bathrooms are inclusive of toilets except in the case of visitor’s toilet which sometimes is built with just a toilet.
  • Utility area(s): For family life, having a laundry room and possibly even a garage can be a real help in managing day to day chores. If required or needed by the home owner.
  • Kitchen: Except it’s a grand palace, one kitchen is usually enough for a house. Depending on how big and spacious the owner wants the kitchen to be, specifications can be given to the architect to design it to your taste.
  • Special function rooms: Consider if your lifestyle requires rooms suitable for special functions, such as formal dining, office space, a library, or a nursery then all this can be incorporated.

When designing the house and also the position to place the house; care should be given to the following:

  • View, in relationship to the land: If you are building a home with large windows in a living room, consider facing these toward the most appealing view or the area with more wind. South west trade wind will be preferable because it blow wet air.
  • Windows and how they light the interior: Kitchens may benefit the most from exterior light, so think about what time a ray of sunshine in the kitchen will offer the best results. Late afternoon may be cooking and dish washing time, so it may be best to orient the kitchen towards the west or the area that is likely to get dark before it is sun-down to take advantage of the extra light.
  • Accessing your home: On large lands especially, you will need to ascertain the route for a usable driveway if you depend on a car for transportation. Look at any low area that is likely to store water during raining season and make sure provision is made in raising that area during construction.

Building a house involves several specific trades, or crafts, and to ensure quality work, it is usually better to have trained craftsmen perform the work. But if you are employing the services of a professional builder then he/she handles all this. In the case whereby you want to do the work yourself by being the project manager, here is a list of people and terms you should know and their jobs in home building:

  • For Site worker: These are the people who will clear and grade the land.
  • Foundation/slab this includes form carpenters, laborers, and concrete finishers.
  • Framers. Rough carpentry: frame up the walls, install the trusses (or stick-framed rafters), must be plumb (vertical) and squared.
  • Weathering in: Sheathing, roofing, exterior doors and windows.
  • Bricklayers (siding installers, wood, composite or vinyl).
  • Electricians.
  • Plumbers.
  • Drywall hangers/finishers.
  • Cabinet makers.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) installers.
  • Insulators.
  • Trim, finish carpenters.
  • Painters.
  • Flooring installers: Carpet, hardwood, tile.

A good home construction project begins with a firm foundation, which includes both the soils at the building site and the structures you place in or on that soil to help support the home.  Houses built on shifting sand, mucky soil, or other unstable earth will likely fail over a short period of time unless they are built on special foundations or pilings. For one to be certain that the structure that would be erected on the soil in the near future does not start sinking or collapse it is advisable that before starting the foundation a proper soil test should be carried out to determine the nature of the soil, the load it can bear and what type of foundation would suit the area. Because areas that are swampy may be prone to construction. Therefore the house to be built in swampy areas should be constructed on elevated foundations so the lowest floor is above anticipated flood levels.

There are different types of foundations that can be used for such places depending on the water levels or the severity of flooding such as raft foundation, pile foundation etc. If you are building the house yourself, you should seek advice from a building professional on which foundation would be best for your building and if you are using a professional home builder be sure to research on the foundation that would be used for your building, because of cases like incompetent and inexperienced home builders who might give advice that would be detrimental to your building project. But for stable or firm grounds a regular foundation is all that would be required like a shift or strip foundation.

Now remember one has to take into cognizance the type of materials to be used when building a house for example materials to be used for the foundation such as the type of cement, aggregate and sand to be used, iron rods, materials to be used for exterior walls and roof, the type of wood to be used for all wood related jobs, type of paints to be used both internally and externally, the quality of the pipes to be used for the electrical wiring and plumbing jobs etc. I would like to point out here that if you are using a trusted home builder you may not have to worry about all this, but you have to pay close attention to detail because sometimes these contractors are not totally honest. The truth is you cannot be guaranteed 100% trustworthiness, but you can get 95% because the contractors or builders are also being cautious as well. Some clients have also been known to default on their payment to the contractors as well.

Once the sites has been cleared of all the natural vegetation or all the debris has been removed from the site (using a non-virgin land). The next process is for the work to commence on foundation, after all the necessary parts have been constructed into the foundation, next comes block work to start up the walls and laying off the floor depending on the type of floor you want it can be a slab or beam, before laying the floor and make sure the plumbing pipes have been passed before slab or concrete is poured. After the walls have been erected noted that provision is also made for pipes within them either for the electrical or the running water and also spaces would be left for the windows to come in later. Once the wall has been raised to the desired height which most times are 3meters in height then comes the roof trusses (rafter) and ceiling joists. If it’s more than a storey you wish to construct at this stage you do another decking (using a slab made of thick concrete mixture). Once the entire roof is erected with all that needs to be in it from the rafters, fascia boards, gable ends, to the decking of the rafters with plywood, roofing felts etc, then the roofing sheets can be installed and this can be aluminum roofing sheets, asbestos sheets, metal roofing sheets etc. Once all this is in place then all installation for the electrical outlets and plumbing i.e. install pipes for portable water, waste drains and drain vents in walls alongside the installation of HVAC (air conditioning and heat) duct work, air handlers and refrigerant piping if required. Next is to insulate the walls, floors, ceiling and duct works.

At this point the doors and windows can be installed as well. Then next is the installation of the ceiling boards or if you so desire the use of POP (Plastic of Paris) as is common nowadays for the ceiling. Also you would install the bath tub, wash-hand basin, kitchen sink, shower enclosure, and any other large plumbing fixtures which will interface with finished walls. Install the main electrical panel box, and any sub-panels your design requires, and install wiring from these to each device or outlets. Each builder has a pattern for carrying out these processes, so there is no one way to carry out the installations. But some necessary things have to be put in place first before installation. You will plaster, paint, and install wall coverings on any walls that require it. Trim out the electrical devices, install lights and other fixtures, and install breakers in panel boxes if they were not pre-installed. You will probably need at least basic kitchen storage cabinets and a bathroom vanity cabinet for a sink, other cabinets may include a bar, upper storage cabinets, and lower units with drawers for kitchen utensils and supplies. Plumbing fixtures have to be installed and trimmed out and sealed where necessary. Then the flooring which can either be tiles, granite or marble or in some cases wood finishing for the living and general area and ordinary floor tiles for the kitchen, floor and wall tiles for the bathroom.at this point if the house has not been painted then it is painted with two to three coats of paint both internally and externally, but if painted before a retouch is what would be needed. Before the house is handed over all the electrical installations have to be tested for possible faults likewise the plumbing for leakages and other unforeseen faults. Move in and decorate you house, Congratulations you are now a home owner!!!

CHECKING FOR REAL ESTATE OWNERSHIP BEFORE FINANCIAL COMMITMENT

As far as real estate transaction is concerned, large sum of money is required. If You make a loss on the money you invested then it becomes a great financial setback. Buying the wrong property at the wrong price, at the wrong place and at the wrong time might also lead to psychological breakdown of mind. However if you don’t want to fall victim of illegal/wrong real estate investment decision, then the following procedures will guide you:

  • Note the name and address of the vendors in charge of your real estate transaction.
  • Check for survey plan within the documents given to you and note the survey plan number and beacon numbers.
  • Take the registration details of the Real Estate to the Land registry and request for title search.
  • The result of the search will confirm the name of the owner, address of the property, date, time and year of the registration. All these can be executed for you by a qualified real estate lawyer who will give you a search report to save you the trouble of doing this. Always ensure that you collect an official government receipt for the search conducted.
  • Find out under which local town planning authority the property falls. Approach the local planning authority office with a copy of the approved building plan and where necessary, survey plan. With these two or just one documents, the officials of the planning authority would help you to locate the approved layout plans showing details of ownership of the layout as at the time of submission to the planning authority, you can also know the year the plan was approved.
  • Cross check the plot number on the approved plan with the documents in your hand. Check if the plan has been tampered with. If someone has taken part of the land you can easily discover. Through this, the plot you have bought might really be an open space or even a place of worship on the layout plan. Find out how it was changed.
  • Approach the State Town Planning Authority Office through which the state government plans its land acquisition, land use policies etc. Try to confirm from them whether the property is free from compulsory acquisition, free from proposed road or road widening project, not an open space designated for children play ground or green areas. Also investigate if the property is not affected by any river channelization scheme, urban renewal scheme. These checks can help you decide whether the title is good or defective.
  • Finally ensure all defects are corrected before financial commitment.

 

 

INVESTMENT POTENTIALS IN BUYING UNDEVELOPED LAND

There is more to buying undeveloped land in the part of success because the long term reward brings joy to the owner and as inflation increases the value and the worth of your land is also increasing provided it is located in an ideal neighborhood. So when buying an investment undeveloped land always make sure that you make proper consideration for physical and socio economic characteristics of the area. The location must favour transportation network, telecommunication network, clean air, security, fruitful economic prospects, electricity and other necessary facilities that give room for human comfort.

Town planners, land surveyors, estate surveyors, architects and development consultants should be taken as your friends because they are the ones who can assist you in arriving at wise real estate investment decisions. Town planners can support you with map of existing land uses of a particular area of interest, forecast for future developments, clue on future road extension and detail of future land uses. They also regulate building codes, historic preservation, land subdivision regulation, land use zoning laws. They usually have aerial photographs and maps that can help you to better identify and evaluate the land in question so that it suits your future real estate investment plan. You will get a better picture of awaiting opportunities concerning its economy, environment and population, plus recreation, education, medical and employment facilities if you make proper consultation with real estate professionals.

The following are some of the benefits you get from investing in undeveloped lands;

  • Buying undeveloped land has the potential to experience tremendous appreciation if bought in the part of growth or if it can be put in highest and best use.
  • Subdivision of large undeveloped land into layouts can create added value and provide for immediate return on your real estate investment.
  • Privacy and pride of ownership can give the holder a feeling of security.
  • It can be used as collateral provided you have necessary title document and it is in the part of progress that can command good instrument for mortgages, loans and other forms of financial security.
  • Undeveloped real estate generates robust long term returns.
  • Real estate is an asset that has the ability to produce income and profit

Where can I get the undeveloped land?

You may start your search by contacting farmers, investors, real estate agents, town planning agencies, land surveyors, estate surveyors, bureau of land management, developers and friends who are always ready to assist. Use your network while conducting searches for real estate investment opportunities around you. One may also check newspaper ads, real estate yellow pages, bulletin boards and flyers which are commonly found in estate agents office.

STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TIPS

Real estate has always been a good investment option. It is also a safe investment option than other forms of investment such as stock market. However, many people seem to be ignorant about how to make money investing in real estate. The reasons for this can be lack of time to study about real estate market or lack of interest in the field. However, before we invest our hard-earned money, it is necessary that we are aware of the risks and expected returns from the investment.
Real Estate Investment Tips

investing in real estate can be extremely profitable with high yielding returns and long-term growth potential. Below given are few real estate investing tips that will assure long-term capital growth:

Market Study

If you wish to know how to invest in real estate with little money, then my first suggestion is that you should conduct a good market research to know about attractive investment opportunities. By doing a careful self-study, you will understand which property deal suits you the best and will generate the maximum returns.

Fix Your Budget
All those who wish to understand how to start investing in real estate should first fix their budget for their realty investments. Properties are available from few Millions of Naira to several Million of Naira and hence you should decide what your investment capacity is first. Before you decide the amount to be invested, take into consideration factors such as your annual income, current liabilities, monthly expenses, etc.

Finalize the Type of Property

There are different kinds of properties you can choose from. Block of Flat Apartments, Self Contained Apartment for Students, bungalows, Detached Houses, Semi Detached Houses, Offices, Shops, residential plots or commercial land are some options which you can explore. Be aware that commercial establishments will cost much more than the residential ones.

Finalize the Location

Location plays a crucial role in all kinds of real estate investments. Whether you get good appreciation for your property will depend on where your estate is located. So, study the areas in the city and find out the current property rates there and scope for further price appreciation. Ideally, you can try to invest in upcoming locations where you can get properties at cheap prices.

Check the Plan

The next step involved in how to start investing in real estate is to check for detailed description of the property from the seller. Visit the seller’s office and understand each and every minute detail of the plan and specifications of the project. Take along a property agent/realtor whom you know so that he can guide you in your property selection.

Check the Developer Reputation

Checking the reputation of the property developer/builder from whom you will be purchasing the property is extremely important. You should buy a property from a developer who has a good track record of delivering properties on time and having the best construction standards and quality in the real estate industry. Make sure that the developer has followed all government laws while constructing the project and there are no controversies and legal hassles.

Get Finance from Lenders

Real estate is one of the biggest investment options in the life of any person and a lot of money is required for that. So, you might feel the need for finance and hence you should approach top banks with your income and personal information details. Also take the project details to get your loan sanctioned easily.

I wish you Good luck!

REAL ESTATE MARKETING IDEA

If you’re aiming to sell a property, you must have to be aware of each and every aspect about the building i.e. the property you want to sell in terms of features, size, title, etc. and its geographical locations. This may not sound quite great but the fact is that a buyer especially a first time buyer who comes to visit the property, will love to know about the building as well as the benefits of choosing that property. Moreover, to sell anything, you must know about it, thoroughly and confidently. Tested real estate marketing ideas that can help you sell your property quickly have been covered below.

Embrace Technology
It is for sure that web marketing is here to stay for long! If you’re a professional real estate agent, and you already have a website, then some basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) work can help you get visitors to your web page. In case, you’re just a home owner, you can use the Internet technology to get closer to a wide range of audience. Thanks to social networking websites like facebook, twitter and LinkedIn that connecting to people professionally has become extremely easier.

Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are just some of the best social websites you can use to market your property. For instance, you can upload small videos (2 to 3 minutes) on YouTube featuring your entire property, the locality and other features. That will certainly help people know about your property closely. You can also create a blog or wordpress related to your experiences in real estate or about your property.

Your blog can even help you earn, if you choose to allow ads on your website. A strong network of real estate developers can be created through social media websites. Be sure not to waste too much time and money on social media. Fix few hours of a day wherein you’ll dedicate your time to marketing your product through social media.

Right Pricing is Crucial
Be very careful about pricing of the properties in your neighborhood area. Don’t be tempted to price your property very high. Most of the buyers (except for magnates and business tycoons) do fix their budgets before purchasing a house. Hence, you have to be very careful in pricing your property. It is always a great idea to price a house at the market value rate so that you have the flexibility to negotiate about the pricing with the client.

Seminars
It doesn’t require lots of efforts and money for arranging a seminar in your locality regarding real estate properties. Market yourself well through newspapers or even word of mouth publicity can help a lot. If you’re lucky, many people from the community would attend your seminar and you can make them aware about your property. You must also visit property exhibitions and seminars so that you can get opportunity to learn more about real estate market. Besides that you will get an opportunity to make good contacts with several people.

Keep the Property in Best Shape
As a buyer, anyone will prefer to buy a property that is fully furnished and well maintained. If you’re asking for a good price, your house must not be in a pathetic condition. Otherwise, you may have to negotiate on price. Or the worst, the buyer may find some better places to buy a property.
Pamphlets, ads in newspapers and real estate magazines are some other sources to market about your property.

THINGS TO CONSIDER IN CHOOSING AN IDEAL REAL ESTATE LOCATION

THINGS TO CONSIDER IN CHOOSING AN IDEAL REAL ESTATE LOCATION.