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‘Our business is to make land or home ownership easy for low income earners’

Worsening housing situation in Nigeria’s major cities tend to validate Federal Government’s assertion that housing deficit in the country is merely an urban problem. Though government and private sector developers are doing their best, housing gap continues to widen. In this interview with CHUKA UROKO, the managing director of ATCO Homes, TRIUMPHABATAN OLUWAYOMI, points to the disconnect between rising urbanisation and housing supply shortage. He offers solutions and speaks on other real estate issues. Excerpts:

Urbanisation is a huge challenge in Nigerian cities today as more people leave the rural areas to settle in those cities. What does this mean for the housing sector?

Well, this has both positive and negative side-effects. Let us look at the positive first. Urbanisation means increased revenue for the real estate sector because more people will need good and affordable houses. Secondly, more jobs will be created and that will help to solve more problems arising from the increase.

Another positive side is that when people are moving this way, it tends to improve the literacy level of those who are relocating. Urbanization brings with it increase in many things one can imagine.

The negative effects are, however, so numerous that we might not be able to exhaust them here. One of such effects is the underdevelopment of the rural areas they are migrating from. Another is that there will be increase in crime rates in the cities, especially where security personnel are under-employed, not empowered and deployed.

What roles can the government and private sector play to meet the growing housing needs in the cities?

I am of the view that no person can give what he doesn’t have. Likewise, no government can do beyond what they have. The government, for me, is every one of us. But the government should create the enabling environment for young entrepreneurs like us to perform.

They should provide better access to finance, especially for entrepreneurs who are doing well. Government could look for about 100 young real estate firms that are 3 to 4 years old with track records to work with and solve the housing problems in Nigeria.

Players in the industry, especially up-coming ones, should not be interested in doing business as usual for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians. I believe that no one will come to help us to develop our country. we must get the job done by ourselves.

Selflessness is needed more in the sector and other sectors of the economy. Players should always put the people and clients first. We need to break the chain of hardship in this country. We need to build decent and affordable houses for all Nigerians, not only the elite, but also the low income earners.

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With mounting challenges arising from inflation and poverty, do you consider affordable pricing as solution to low and middle-income housing?

Yes. Developing affordable houses is possible. There are no impossibilities in my dictionary anyway. We should not be in the habit of valuing everything in terms of dollars. We should leverage on materials that could be sourced locally to solve housing problem in the country.

What is ATCO Homes doing in that regard?

We are already doing much in this area. As a young company that is just 3 years old, we have done our business consistently with the desire to help low earners own land or house in Nigeria.

We are the only real estate company in Nigeria that has consistently gifted its clients Toyota Corolla cars and this is not about raffle draws. It is a reward for their extra earnings. We have a flexible payment plan that has no equal.

What payment structure do you have in place that could help real estate investors?

We have in place one of the friendliest payment structures in real estate industry in Nigeria that is governed by determination to eradicate poverty among the people we do business with. We have affordable initial deposits for low income earners with the balance spread over 24 months. Also, we have valueadding payment plans for our elite clients.

How accessible are your estates in terms of location and what benefits do those estates have for potential investors?

For now, we have about 15 fenced and gated estates comprising landed and developed properties in Lekki, Ibeju-lekki and Free Trade Zone areas of Lagos. The location of these estates gives investors good returns annually. The value appreciation is driven by Dangote refinery, the proposed International Airport in Ibeju-lekki, the Lagos Jetty and the Dangote mini seaport.

There are other developments coming up around the axis such as resorts and beaches. None of our investors has regretted partnering with us on this journey so far. Remember what we are selling at ATCO Homes are not just houses, but rather homes, peace of mind, your profit and growth too.

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