Interview with Femi Osibona, Lagos Real Estate Developer
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?
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 is the solution to creating more affordable housing to meet the pressing demand?
The Government needs to do more with access to affordable single digit Mortgages.
The Government (especially the State governments) who hold land also need to go into partnerships with private developers. A situation where the government will provide land for developers in return for a hugely discounted houses is desirable.
Another thing the government can also do to assist and support is to simplify and speed up approval processes.
Really, the Government should not be involved in building houses that cost N40million in a country where the minimum wage is N18,000. I think anyone who wants to buy a 40 Million naira house should be able to do that himself. Low cost housing should not cost more than 3-5million Naira.
How has Fourscore Homes played its part in addressing the housing deficit in Nigeria?
Since we arrived in Nigeria, we have built over 400 housing units in Ikoyi, Ikeja, Ogudu, Isheri, Ogun State and Abuja and we are not about to stop.
Source: Nairaland Forum