‘Why we are building N10 Billion housing’
1n 2015, the firm moved from selling landed properties to developing homes around Lagos and consulting for the Federal Government with the aim of ensuring sufficient housing for Nigerians at a very low cost.
Chief Executive Officer of the outfit, Akintayo Stephen, recently unveiled a N10 billion Low Cost Housing project, which includes packages for low-income earners.
In this interview, he told Eniola Daniel plans to achieve the goal of providing luxury homes for people in lower cadre of the economy.
Can you tell us how you came into the real estate business?
We opened a subsidiary called GTEX Homes in 2015, which was to enable us sell landed property and build houses for people.
The real estate journey is a bit complex and one of the hardest investments we ever did.
I have a lot of connection with friends and family members outside Nigeria and many of them were afraid of investing back at home because of their past terrible experiences with land grabbers (Omo Onile) and family members.
I remember the story of someone that lost $20,000 that was meant to buy six plots of land to his father. His father sold his land plot by plot whenever he asked him for money and he said he does not have.
At this point we needed to expand into housing as well as resort. We all know that there is no more vacant empty land in Ikeja GRA and here we are talking of hectares of land, like 500 acres, these are the locations that you have to develop, you have to construct road, fence, provide power and also do resorts to attract people to those locations.
We are already in talks with most of the big construction companies in Nigeria and one of them will be in charge of this proposed project but at this moment, we are announcing to the public that we are open to investment so, we are looking for partners.
What is the reason behind the N10 billion project, why should Nigerians key into this initiative and how do you intend to drive it? And some estate owners use celebrities to market their product but along the line, they will start giving people excuses, moving customers from one location to another so, what is the guarantee that buyers will not face the same problem with you?
There are no guarantees on investment in any part of the world.
I think in some countries, it is a criminal offence to give anyone guarantee on their investment.
Of course you can make promises but you can leave guarantees, meaning that there is nothing in life that is certain, things change, what you need to know is that whether a company can be trusted. I think part of it is how long have they been existing.
We’ve been around for 11 years, so we are not new comers. We didn’t just start business today and our subsidiary have gone to a level of consulting for former president of Nigeria and even to the present one in digital marketing related areas.
This is not a brand that just started, it’s also not a brand the owners are not willing to show their face, we are a brand and we are here, I think that’s enough guarantee for anybody who thinks this is something they want to consider.
We have been able to do our best to deal with our customers well and with integrity, when it comes to buying land in Nigeria, it’s very complex.
The issue where a company has to move customers to another land, for me, I think that’s a company that has integrity.
I have bought lands in this country and I did not get anything back and omo onile will not give me one naira. Moving customers from a land to another is also a big loss to them.
The advantage of doing business with credible real estate companies is that your interest is protected with their names and integrity and in many cases, if anything goes wrong with that deal, they will get most of the liabilities.
Real estate companies are there to sanitize the real estate industry, I’m not saying there are no fake real estate companies that made a mess of things, but developed real estate companies are able to sanitise the system and I think we also need protection for such companies.
If you buy a property in Dubai, you cannot go back to demand for your money because government protects them and I agree with that arrangement because your money was not kept in a piggy bank.
When you pay money for land it’s not kept somewhere, the money is used to do something, so if you go back and request your money and because they didn’t give you back the money, you now call them fraud. Nigeria is a victim of a failed system.
What kind of houses are you intending to build, and how do you tend to raise the N10 billion for the project?
The different types of housing depends on the location, we have Ikorodu where we have two-three bedroom flats: we realise that in Africa, people are actually not really interested in one bedroom except they are single so, we also have the one-bedroom apartment we are going to be building. We realise that not everyone is into the concept of one bedroom.
For Ibeju Lekki, we are building four bedroom duplexes for our Ibeju properties which is just a few minutes after Dangote refinery.
We are proposing a golf resort so that the workers in that axis can come to relax and have fun, while for the Ikorodu property, we are looking at building a canoe museum in that axis, golf may not do too well in Ikorodu because a lot of people would prefer cruising on a boat, take their kids to park.
We feel each of our estates should have a resort of some sort because that will bring attention and develop the environment.
In terms of investors, we are looking at joint partners: individuals who know this brand and trust our work and just want to invest their money and get returns.
I am an international trainer, I teach people on multiple streams of investment and one of the things I tell people is not to invest in where they don’t know what the company is doing. You need to know the chances of building houses, buying lands and the appreciation level.
In three years, a property close to Dangote refineries will have appreciated by 200 per cent, I think an investor needs to look into that before investing.
I have had to do a lot of trainings for Nigerians in Diaspora and what I keep hearing is that they can’t buy houses or land in Nigeria but they can invest in a good company where their money is safe at the end of the day.
We expect a good portion of this to come from people and also the sale of lands to raise funds for our housing scheme and for the resort, we expect that when we start the project then we can attract foreign banks and investors.
How affordable are your houses and how flexible is the payment and, to investors, how profitable is it to invest in this project?
For me, the question of affordability is a critical part of our service. We have flexible payment even for our landed property.
Why we are trying to raise joint partnership is because we know those who are buying the houses cannot pay at once but we can use the money from this joint partners to finish the houses, probably some of our customers may even move in before they finish paying.
Nigeria is a bit complex in terms of defining people, so I think the classification will be a bit shaky based on how you are looking at it.
I know we are looking at the upper lower-class to the middle-class, depending on how you look at it. However, everything we build is for luxury and that’s our goal.
Our affordability doesn’t mean we will build a rickety house, they are high class buildings, so we want to make the price reasonable so that a good number of people can afford it but in terms of what we are providing from the golf to swimming pools to electricity, basic amenities, are some form of luxury so for me, I would say we are luxury rooting and affordable.
We have a flexible payment as low as N250,000 to N500,000. For those doing joint investment, the interest rate range from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.
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