Interview with Femi Osibona, Lagos Real estate Developer, Nigeria
What was the vision behind setting up Fourscore Homes Ltd?
Fourscore Homes started in London (Hackney) in 1997. I bought a House on New Cross Road which i renovated, behind it, I bought a plot and I was able to develop that plot into my first real estate project, that was how i started building houses for sale.
I also noticed that many Nigerians at that time were reluctant to go into construction but i believed anything was possible with God on my side.
I developed over 50 projects in London and Manchester, from there, we went to South Africa and built a number of Estates. After developing so many properties abroad, i decided to come back to my country of birth, Nigeria, and contribute my own quota to positive development.
Apart from developing residential houses, Fourscore homes also deals in residential light fittings and other building Materials.
Would you say more developers are focusing on luxury properties instead of affordable housing in Nigeria?
Yes, many developers build Luxury houses because they believe that the demand for such properties is high, This is however not the case anymore. There is a huge housing deficit of 17 Million Housing units in Nigeria, the world bank recently provided a conservative estimate that this would cost about 60 trillion Naira. This estimate is based on N3.5m Per unit. It is obvious that the deficit is for mass affordable housing and not luxury housing.
However, due to infrastructure deficits, land in areas where there is adequate infrastructure is expensive . Also people generally don’t want to spend money providing roads, electrification etc as this is primarily the responsibility of the government.
Consequently they want to maximise the returns on investment from their “expensive land” and quickly too. That is why you find many people building the kind of houses that will help them maximise return on their investment.
What do you think of the Government’s efforts at housing development in Nigeria?
I am aware that Lagos state has done so much at PPP developments.
Lagos state should do more and other states should also do this.
When Government gives out Land to develop mass housing, this goes a long way to reduce the cost of development and definitely brings house ownership within the reach of the masses.
What is the future of real estate development in Nigeria?
I believe the future is very bright, if the Government gets it right. We need to start from the basics, If the Government performs better in terms of providing the much needed infrastructure, it will attract more foreign direct investments and the sky is the limit.