In many ways, advocacy which is quite strident in real estate sector, has helped in streamlining things such as laws, regulations and transparency, leading to growth which the sector has seen so far.
Advocacy in real estate comes from concerned individuals, professional institutions, non-governmental organisations and other groups who, through seminars, conferences and other forms of communication, fault or outrightly condemn unfavourable laws or practices in the sector..
At a real estate conference organized recently in Lagos by Property and Environment Writers Association (PEWAN), Hakeem Oguniran, CEO, Eximia Realty Company Limited, highlighted some of the areas advocacy has played a role in bringing change in the sector.
He cited South Africa which has registered moderate improvements with a mandatory implementation of the Property Practitioners Act, Digitization of land registry, adding that new beneficial ownership regulations have boosted Kenya’s position in the Property Transparency Index.
In Lagos, Nigeria, Oguniran explained that the implementation of Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA) is as a result of advocacy in the sector, adding that the authority has helped to reduce quackery, fraud and double standard in estate agency practice in the state.
He highlighted cases where fraudulent estate agents and fake developers rented out or sold 12 units of housing to over 100 home seekers and disappeared with the money collected from the victims.
Oguniran also highlighted reforms that have taken place in the real estate sector and are directly related to advocacy. These, according to him, include the Finance Act of 2019 which settled the issue of double taxation in real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Others are the Retirement Savings Account (RSA) withdrawal which allows pension contributors to withdraw 25 percent of their savings and use same as equity contribution for mortgage for purposes of buying, building or renovating a property.
He noted that approval order and urban planning review, rates reduction in land use charge in terms of permitting and approval fees; establishment of mortgage foreclosure law which encourages mortgage lenders to give out loans in the expectation of recovering the loan in the event of default, and prohibition of land grabbing, among others were products of advocacy.
Oguniran also explained the role of regulation and transparency in promoting growth in the real estate sector. “There is a strong nexus between fostering real estate transparency and strengthening regulatory frameworks,” he said, adding, “a robust regulatory framework is essential for promoting transparency in the real estate sector.
Continuing, he said, “governments and regulatory bodies should enforce strict guidelines and standards for real estate transactions, ensuring compliance with ethical practices and legal requirements. “Transparent and enforceable regulations create a level playing field and foster trust among all stakeholders.”
Regulation, according to him, is very important in real estate investment, transaction and development as it creates the framework for aligning the interests of the primary and secondary participants in the real estate value chain, and also sets the standards for compliance and instituting the penal regime for infractions and breaches.
“Regulation is important for establishing the institutional framework for the implementation of extant laws and regulations and subsequent reviews and amendments. It enforces compliance with ethical, professional and other industry standards and eliminates sharp practices and misconduct,” he explained.
He added that regulation is necessary for dispute resolution mechanisms – including specialized and alternative dispute resolution models, and also for preserving the rights of the parties in the real estate ecosystem – government, developers, land owners, buyers, contractors, agents, etc.
“It is good for the prevention of sharp practices, fraudulent schemes and all acts inimical to the interests of stakeholders; it provides the platform for the growth and development of the sector,” he said.