Operators and other stakeholders have spotlighted innovation and quality control as growth and sustainability drivers in the real estate sector. The operators spoke at a real estate summit hosted by Lagos Business School (LBS) and Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) in Lagos.
The summit, which brought together industry players and government functionaries had as theme, ‘Building for the Future: Innovations, Opportunities and Quality Control.’
Gbenga Olaniyan, CEO, Estate Links Limited, said in his keynote speech titled ‘Building for the Future,’ there was need to understand the dynamic nature of the real estate market before entertaining the subject matter of building for the next generation.
Olaniyan harped on the need for property practitioners to make decisions based on accurate information and statistics, saying that the best approach to real estate was to “think long-term.”
“Artificial Intelligence will take over the business of people who don’t use Artificial Intelligence, so the onus is on us all to get connected. We need to understand AI before it leaves us behind, because clearly, this is part of the future of construction,” he said.
In his remarks, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu blamed real estate practitioners who are not building according to the property laws of the state for the menace of building collapse .The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Abimbola Salu-Hundeyin said that despite the existing challenges, Lagos is forging ahead to find lasting solutions to the state’s housing concerns.
According to him, by 2035, there will be more than 30 million people living in Lagos, and this would present a challenge of providing affordable housing for the teeming population given the limited land mass of the state.
“It is pertinent to state that the increasing building collapses and demolitions recorded clearly shows that the practitioners are not building in compliance with regulatory framework, especially with regard to building approvals, environmental standards, energy efficiency and quality of material.
“Therefore, the need for us as a government to continuously advocate, monitor and enforce where necessary, the extant regulations and standards become necessary with the application of innovation and quality control strategies and technologies,” the governor said.
The summit also featured three panel sessions during which experts in the sector discussed innovation and quality control and how these would shape the future of the industry.
Speaking during a panel session, the Head of Real Estate Finance, West Africa at Stanbic IBTC, Tola Akinbanmi noted that interest rate in the last 10 years has been unstable, which has had a significant impact on cross-border transactions.
He also advised real estate players in the local industry to eschew borrowing in foreign currency, especially when they are not earning the needed forex to off-set such dollar obligations.
The Principal Partner, Ismail & Partners, Gbenga Ismail, said that proper land titling, tax regime, and convenient repatriation of funds are issues that must be addressed in order to increase investments in the industry.
According to him, regulation should focus more on boosting investors’ confidence as no investor would lay out money without critically examining the challenges that could hamstring such an investment.
The Principal Partner, Ubosi Eleh & Co, Chudi Ubosi, during the second panel session which focused on ‘Real Estate Investment Approaches,’ argued that real estate remained an asset class of choice, especially via the instrumentality of land banking.
Ubosi further posited that despite the availability of private equity in real estate, developers have continued to struggle to deliver off-plans due to the rising cost of construction.
The Executive Director of Lagos State Development and Property Corporation, Adeniyi Aromolaran said the conventional building methods of the day had to change in line with usability and adaptability.
With construction costs skyrocketing in line with inflationary trends, Aromolaran advocated creative financing as an effective way of shouldering construction costs which are often beyond the financial strength of any single entity.
On her part, the CEO of Lifecard International, Grace Ofure noted that construction projects which specifically cater for the needs of the aged have not been given enough emphasis. She added that lack of collaboration and unhealthy competition had stifled growth of the real estate industry.
In the second keynote presentation, the Managing Director of Fine & Country West Africa, Udo Okonjo, spoke on the need to embrace change and innovation in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment.
Speaking during the third panel session which focused on ‘Real Estate Emerging Technologies,’ the Managing Director of Octo 5 Holding, Jide Odusolu said that a lot of transactions in the real estate sector are informal, which makes access to reliable data difficult.
Odusolu urged industry players not to view emerging proptech platforms as adversaries, but aggregators helping with the collation of useful data and insights about the industry.
The Co-founder of VENCO Africa, Chude Osiegbu expressed worry that the proptech sector is currently facing a challenge of talent.
Also speaking, the Head, Department of Estate, Lead City University, Igho Fayomi, stated that technology had engendered many changes in the real estate sector in recent years.