‘Lagos housing deficit stems from poor city planning’

Akintade Esan is the co-founder of Wealth Island Properties. In this interview with Gbemi Faminu, he spoke on the steps Wealth Island Properties is taking to ensure affordable housing for low-income earners and the company’s plan in bridging Lagos’s huge housing deficit. Excerpts: 

How does wealth Island standout from its competitors in the real estate business?

One interesting thing to note is that I did not come into real estate just to make money rather to address the housing deficit. There is a high rate of housing deficit in Nigeria but I believe where people live in affects their mentality, how they behave and how well they will live, is all centred on where they live. What we are doing to stand out from our competitors is by building a unique space where people can own apartments and also make money from real estate while we also, propagate the gospel of rental income that is not well known in Lagos and in Nigeria at large in the last four years.

Who are those comprising your target market?

Presently, we have lots of speculated properties in Nigeria so when selling a piece of land; sellers will say you can make money from this property in the next three years and things like that. At Wealth Island, we are advocates of ending poverty and housing deficiency and for us to achieve this; we decided to not just sell properties in emerging communities but also in a prime community that is developed so those who intend to use their properties for building or renting can do it conveniently. We have parkway gardens at Jakande Estate in Isolo and we also have properties around Lagos including Anthony. We are doing this because we recognise the opportunity that people can take advantage of and most times this kind of opportunity is rare. Most time people are offered pieces of land at the extreme end of the town or even the outskirts of the town while they promise future prospects, this we regard them as prospects and not the reality of the future. We offer properties where you can conveniently stay with first-class infrastructure and believe every Nigerian deserves a good life regardless of where they have been. For every willing Nigerian, we are ready to provide properties in desired locations and that is an example of what we have at the parkway gardens in Isolo area. We provide close proximity to people’s wellbeing in mind.

How affordable are your properties for the middle and low-income earners?

It is interesting to know that the property in Bucknor is not necessarily too expensive so we are talking about property worth N4 to N7.5million in a central area. This is a landed property with infrastructure that does not require you paying extra money which is quite rare. We also made provision for installment payments running through six months with no hidden charges. We are doing this because people can begin to live in the heart of the city.

Normally, a plot of land goes for N13 million Bucknor GRA but at Wealth Island we are running a promo and selling it between N4 and N7.5 million which means that you can make money even when buying your property. We give you options of building your house and building your wealth. We are in business to make money but we are also in business to make people’s lives better.

Running such deals at a huge discount, how are you able to make profits?

We acquired the lands years ago as a wholesaler; therefore, we are not running at a loss. Furthermore, the promo does not include all the phases of the estate. While our customers might be making more money than us, we are of the opinion that we need to create welcoming environments for people to live in. we are making sales, getting our profits and also making lives better.

What does the package entail?

We are selling a serviced plot of land which means we are selling land that has all the required infrastructures outside the house that is, the roads, electricity, security, water, and drainage among others. We spent close to N50 million just to achieve this. In essence, while you build your house we provide the necessary infrastructure for you. The idea is for you to buy the land, and live in a good environment or make more money.

Considering government policies in erecting structures and the free will giving to people to build their structures, how do you ensure your clients build a government compliant structure?

In our estates, we do not determine what our clients build but we ensure that specifications are followed and regulations are adhered to. For instance, within the estate, we have a space for duplexes, bungalows and the likes. We have our team of professionals that ensure the structures are policy and rule compliant with the Lagos state laws.

How do you manage the necessary documents for land and house ownership in Lagos?

We ensure that all the necessary documents are available for our client which includes a deed of conveyance which signifies that the land was initially bought in 1968 when there was nothing like the certificate of ownership. Regardless, all the documents provided are valid and presentable.

Seeing that you do not enforce workmen for your clients, how do you ensure they are regulatory compliant in erecting structures?

As humans and adults, we have the power to make our decisions, therefore, we perform supervisory roles on whatever the client is building to ensure compliance with the laid down rules. Enforcing our team of professionals will be a restrictive approach; therefore, we leave customers to suit themselves while we ensure they are compliant with the policies. Also, we follow up procedures for customers who make use of external professionals. They have to provide a bill of what they want to construct within the estate and we follow through on it. We also ensure that standard apartments are being built because we are spending N400 million providing infrastructure for over 100 plots of land.

What other areas do you operate in Lagos?

We have estates in different areas of Lagos which includes, Jakande, Ibeju Lekki opposite a private beach, Magodo, Anthony and Maryland among others. Our aim is simply to create an enabling environment for people. I am on a mission to ensure people live in good neighbourhoods that will allow them live-well and this is what drives us at Wealth Island. We want environments that promote trade interaction and safety.

What possible solutions can be used to address Lagos’s housing deficit?

The housing deficit in Lagos stems from not knowing how to build a city. In Lagos, we are not building the city, we are just amassing population. We need to shift focus to commerce, human interaction also known as mobility intelligence among others. According to the former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode in 2016, he said Lagos loses N42 billion annually due to traffic congestion. Real estate is the gold of Lagos and it can affect Nigeria as well but most people do not know how to go about it

How would you evaluate real estate in Nigeria?

Real estate in Nigeria is one-sided; it is overrated in some sectors. Real estate has an opportunity to improve the economy as the growing population will call for it but then, prosperity in real estate does not thrive alone based on population. Furthermore, there is no financing structure. There are 3 phrases of real estate, we have the emerging markets, the declining market and the green market. In Lagos, revitalisation is very important.