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How to Buy a Trouble-free Home

Not many joyous moments compare to when most people purchase their first home.  The reason is simple; it’s one of the biggest financial investments and that moment is truly emotional.

How would it feel if that asset turned into a nightmare? A real nightmare. Unfortunately, a lot of people spend more time and energy researching their next automobile than they do on a property they would like to buy.

Several construction defects such as faulty wiring, foundation damage, leaking roof and even legal issues, may arise after purchase. Buying a home could be a long and intricate process. It is important to follow the steps below in order to reduce or totally eliminate the possibility of these nightmares.

Know what you want

Having a clear picture of what your want automatically reduces your search period. Reasonably, your agent should not take you to a 5-bedroom apartment when you gave him a brief for a 3-bedroom. It ensures a good use of your time.

Thorough inspection will protect you

Every single detail matters, so you need to look beyond the color! To make sure your potential home is in a good condition, engage an independent professional to inspect the property. In the case of used houses, you should note the required repairs and request for a discount accordingly.

Conduct a title search

Clear title to a property is one of the most important factors to be considered before purchase. There are various means to investigate the title and it is a must to engage in the process of retrieving documents evidencing events in the history of the property, to determine relevant interests and regulations concerning that property.

Get a Lawyer to review your contract

A lawyer can help you avoid some common problems with a home purchase. Realtors often use standard forms, expecting they will cover all circumstances or will be easily customizable for unusual circumstances.

Your lawyer will review the contract on your behalf and interpret unclear clauses. Never agree to or sign what you don’t understand.

Happy home hunting!

NITP urges FG to set up urban, regional planning commission

Bothered that Nigeria is not keying into new wave of creative urban planning that helps cities evolve, town planners have urged the Federal Government to set up a national urban and regional planning commission.

The commission is supposed to formulate national policies for urban and regional planning; initiate, prepare and implement National Physical Development Plan, regional and subject plans as well as establish and maintain urban and regional planning standard.

The Second National Vice President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Mr. Toyin Ayinde who made the call at the First Annual Lecture Series organized by the Centre for Planning Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo in conjunction with the Nigerian Institution of Town Planners, Lagos State Chapter at the University Campus, said such policy direction will promote sustainability and inclusiveness, which are components of Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030).

Speaking on the theme: “Evolution of Lagos into a modern megacity: The role of effective stakeholder engagement”, said that for Lagos State to attain the status of a modern megacity city status, political leaders must engage in wider consultations and of the citizenry in the implementation of physical planning and development.

He lamented that experience has showed that most decisions for town planning and physical development in the past, are influenced by the chief executives’ interest or the interest of a few, which has often put a lid on the extent of progress that could be achieved.

“We must recognize the people as the key element that determines a city’s success; embrace the idea of “People before Things”. Most of those in governance have reasoned the other way, putting things before people. We must place value on man: Consider the logistics around human development, investment in people: small businesses, affordable housing and education should be top priority.

“Let’s do all in our power to ensure the vibrancy of our city, make it beautiful and functionally efficient. We can give life to it by investing in all the development plans we really need, and implementing them faithfully. It is an assignment for everyone and all stakeholders in the human settlement system. We can make our cities more inclusive and sustainable”, he said.

According to him, Lagos has given practitioners in the built environment cause for concern over “Life on land” stressing that experience from time to time is that there are quite a number of challenges which include; building collapse, deficits in housing, flooding, crime and insecurity, traffic congestion, power failures and unemployment amongst other.

In his remarks, the Director, Centre for Planning Studies, (LASU), Prof. Ayo Omotayo said the centre instituted the lecture series because there is the need for marriage of ideas between the ‘town’ and the ‘gown’ for Nigeria to produce best brains in the town planning profession. He appreciated the Lagos state chapter of NITP for the partnership especially bringing in someone who has seen it all in terms of practical aspect of town planning, to debut the lecture series of the centre.

Prof. Omotayo commended the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lanre Fagbohun whose vision and support for the centre and the entire university has brought to fore tremendous physical, moral and academic development of the institution.

According to him, with history having showed the course of development of Lagos, from its humble beginning of fishing and trading towns, with a scanty population, to a mega city whose population is estimated to be over 21 Million residents, noted that the dynamics of urbanization has set on the state than any other cities in Nigeria.

He therefore said: “What residents want is provision of affordable and adequate housing; Road redesign, construction, upgrading and rehabilitation; Integrated (multi-modal) transportation system and traffic management; Waste disposal and functional drainage systems to prevent flooding; Health care delivery: Security of lives and property; regular power generation, distribution and supply; Urban design: greening, landscaping, open space beautification, recreational facilities; Security of Tenure; and Ease of Doing Business.

Originally published in The Guardian

Stakeholders seek creation of National Housing Council

A tentative outlines of the shape of things to come for housing and settlements development in Nigeria may have started to emerge, as key stakeholders last week ended it’s talk shop and endorsed a workable guide for the beleaguered sector in Abuja.

The effort, coming at the instance of the 11th Abuja Housing Show organized by Fesadeb Limited yielded a lot of dividend. The stakeholders agreed that there is the urgent need to create National Housing Council, where operators and professionals generate viable solutions as interest rates of 27-30 per cent cannot build houses for rent or for affordable long term outright sale.

The three- day parley attended by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who led discussions, noted the urgency in critical reform in the housing sector to tackle shortage of skills, lack of artisans, and create jobs opportunities as well as bringing down interest rates, ensuring government incentives to both individual and corporate interests as it is practiced across the world.

According to the participants, government can and need to intervene in critical sectors like housing because of its potentials to generate employment and curb corruption. “Affordability is not cheapness; it is a system that allows one to buy what he would not be able to purchase at the moment and conveniently pay later.

“We need appropriateness of innovative finance and infrastructure in order to address the country’s housing deficit of over 17 million units. That, there is the need to build at least one million housing units per year in spite the problems of high cost and high interest finance, through appropriate government policies.”

They noted that housing for the poor or social housing programme needs at least N1 Trillion through private sector, but mainly public sources  to also  stimulate economic growth for the entire country. Hence, federal government should contribute N100billion and mobilizing business and private sectors to also partake in the programme. The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) needs to be recapitalized to provide decent houses for people in line with the provisions of the programme.

The stakeholders observed that multi-finance approach to housing programmes also requires critical evaluation to enable partners, like the Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) play their roles effectively. The contributory pension scheme should be explored to make available funds for investment in stable outlets like housing.

The innovations in the sector can create jobs even through informal markets feeding housing construction value chain and other related sub sectors.  Instituting innovative solutions could also tackle housing infrastructure problems. “We need to identify our responsibilities and assign them efficiently.Construction of houses should reflect culture and not to destroy traditional architecture that also relates efficiently with other areas like roads, recreational and open spaces.”

Accordingly, the summit said that experts’ attention is needed to address deficit issues by examining the increasing phenomenon of vacant houses in Abuja in order to be made affordable to those in need. Affordability test, for example, can determine those in need and can afford housing, because salary alone cannot fund mortgage, resulting into housing units not been affordable by the contributors because salaries could not service present mortgage arrangements.

In the communique issued after the summit, they advocated for full involvement of public sector as exemplified by Lagos and Bauchi states in funding more infrastructure resulting in housing delivery and job creation. They agreed that subsidies must reach single digit lending rates by banks and mortgage companies.

Attention was drawn to the fact that there are problems of housing shortages, but, the size of the problem should not dampen our enthusiasm to find solutions. Although, adequate housing provision is a global problem,

“We need to build between 700,000 and 800,000 housing units annually in order to manage present crisis, yet, less than 100,000 units are built every year. To achieve this, we need to extend the frontiers of affordability by including cooperatives, the self-employed and the unemployed that provide wide opportunities to our economy and families.”

If the right attention had been given to housing, the country would not have been in regression today. Issues of equity contributions, loans to construction companies, and high interest bank guaranties, often faced by financiers can be tackled if government can fixed limits to their demand.

The government need to leverage land acquisition, titling processes and charges in addition to providing durable infrastructure. This will bring the needed vibrancy to the sector, allow private sector to do and achieve high results.

There is the need to have uniform underwriting standards for the self-employed, non-interest, and fore-closure laws. Mortgage banks are to be encouraged to give out more loans.”

And different approaches like rent-to-own, can be used to provide affordable housing to the people.For wider innovative solutions, we need to get other parties in the business of housing and real estate development involved for affordability, availability, and acceptability of housing and housing infrastructure.

Originally published in The Guardian

Lagos concessions landfills, adopts new utility levy

Fresh facts have emerged that the Lagos State Government has concessioned three landfills under the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer, (BOOT) for a period of 25 years, which would take effect from next year.

The state authorities have also adopted a Public Utility Levy (PUL) – a property-based charge applicable to all properties to replace all previous waste management levies. The newly formed Lagos Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC), formerly known as the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) will collect the levies.

The Managing Director, Solid Waste Management (SWM) Solutions, a consultant to the Lagos State government, Tolagbe Martins, disclosed this while speaking on the activities of the new Corps.

While assuring the public of better days ahead in waste management, Martins stated that the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) was incomplete without effective enforcement and total compliance, adding that this is where LAGESC will play dominant roles.

Martins explained that pending the readiness of the three landfills, the government would make do with what was available now, but noted that the Olusosun dumpsite would be closed immediately the landfills were ready.

Also the Executive Secretary of LAGESC, Mrs. Idowu Mohammed, said the corps will make sure that the environment is kept clean at all times in line with the mandate of Cleaner Lagos Initiative.

She assured that henceforth, LAGESC would prevent market women and traders generally from displaying their wares on the road.

Mohammed said the corps would now be used to police the highways to ensure that people did not dump refuse indiscriminately on the roads in order to ensure a cleaner Lagos.

“The sanitation corps will now clear the pathways and bridges and dislodge people selling on the road. They will make sure that the roads are clean and that there is no infraction. They will also ensure that the public utility levy is paid by residents of Lagos State.”

She assured residents of the state that the new corps will carry out its responsibilities with international best practices, noting that gone were the days when KAI officials conducted their affairs in less civilised manners.

“We are out to serve the residents with all civility and decorum. Government’s aim is to provide and promote a cleaner and healthy environment, devoid of indiscriminate dumping of refuse and drainage blockade,” she said.

Mohammed stated that the Lagos State Government would deploy motorised trucks to sweep highways across the state rather than allow street sweepers to do the job, which previously endangered their lives and exposed them to the risk of being knocked down by vehicles.

Originally published in The Guardian

Dogara to declare 11th Abuja Housing show open today

The Abuja Housing Show (AHS) will be declared open today by the Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

The annual housing exhibition is organized by FESADEB communication and is in its 11th edition.

According to the convener of AHS,  Festus Adebayo the  housing expo will  provide opportunities for corporate organizations and individuals to explore new options of housing and infrastructure financing.

He said that over 200 local and international companies will be participating in this year’s housing show and   provides opportunities for  built environment professionals, home financiers, policy makers to interact and proffer solutions to the myriads of problems affecting the Nigerian Housing sector.

He said areas of discourse will be on innovation in housing and infrastructure financing, access to decent and affordable housing, mortgage financing, addressing challenges of developers, ensuring standard in the built sector among others.

He said  governors of Rivers, Ogun, Lagos, Yobe, Bauchi, Sokoto,  Anambra, Kwara and Plateau states are expected to attend the show.

Originally published in Daily Trust

Property prices worldwide up by 6.5%

Globally property prices in key locations increased by 6.5 per cent in the 12 months to March 2017, the highest rate of growth for three years, according the latest index.

Overall, 11 countries out of 55 recorded double digit price growth in the year compared to only four a year earlier, the figures from the Knight Frank global house price index shows.

According to Propertywire.com, Iceland led the index, recording average price growth of 17.8 per cent in the year to March 2017 while price growth in China slipped marginally to 10.3 per cent per annum with more than 45 cities having implemented home purchase restrictions.

Ahead of their 2017 elections France and the Netherlands saw price growth increase while in South Korea, the UK and Germany price growth slowed.

The data also shows that it is not simply that more countries are recording positive growth although that has played a part. While 43 countries recorded price rises in the first quarter of 2016, this has now risen to 48.

This rise has been accompanied by a concomitant increase in the number of countries seeing double digit annual growth rates. Kate Everett-Allen, head of international residential research Knight Frank, explained that given the uncertain global political landscape, the ramping up of cooling measures in large parts of Asia and the unravelling of stimulus measures such as QE in some parts of the world, growth is helped by economic growth.

She pointed out that the International Monetary Fund forecast global GDP to rise by 3.5 per cent in 2017 up from 3.1 per cent in 2016 and property’s reputation as a safe haven investment is also adding property price growth along with the greater availability of mortgage finance in developing markets.

Iceland, which leads the rankings for the second consecutive quarter, is heating up with average house prices rising by 17.8 per cent year on year with a dearth of new supply behind the accelerating prices. Iceland’s Housing Financing Fund suggests 9,000 new apartments need to be delivered over the next three years in Reykjavik alone to keep pace with demand.

Although China has slipped from seventh to tenth in the annual rankings this equates to a marginal fall from 10.8 per cent last quarter to 10.3 per cent this quarter.

“Despite various property market cooling measures, including home purchase restrictions and increased down payment ratios, residential prices continued to rise,” said Everett-Allen.

In Europe prices are up 12.6 per cent in Malta, up 11 per cent in the Czech Republic, up 10.7 per cent in Estonia and up by 10.5 per cent in Hungary. The report says that economic expansion and the Individual Investor Programme explain Malta’s rise, whilst historically low interest rates, wage increases and rising foreign interest are strengthening demand in the remaining three.

With the UK facing political uncertainty, the data suggests property prices continue to ease with annual growth reaching 4.1 per cent in the year to March, down from 5.3 per cent a year earlier. A brief look at some of the key elections in 2017 shows France and the Netherlands stand out as two key countries where price growth strengthened ahead of their polls.

Originally published in Punch Newspaper

RAINY SEASON: “Dos and Don’ts”

Rainy season is here again and it is very important to be aware of our environment in order to reduce or totally avoid mishap and casualties. Below are a few Dos and Don’ts.

Get your roof ready for the rains.

Inspect your roof twice per year to avoid costly problems that can escalate into tremendous cost.

  • Look for cracks along the ridge of your roof and where your shingles fold over to form the cap.

Take a look at your gutters to make sure that they drain well and don’t cause water to back up.

Also make sure that there are not a lot of little granules collecting in there. Granules in your gutter are a sign that your roof’s coating needs to be resealed.

Make sure that you don’t have any down pipe clogs.

Work from the inside out.

Inside your home, check out your ceilings to make sure that you are not experiencing signs of roof or other leakage. Be on the lookout for water rings, mold or wall or ceiling discoloration. Make any necessary repairs to fix the issue and prevent it from happening again during the upcoming rainy season.

Tackle your doors and your windows.

Make sure that both close and seal properly, and make any repairs or improvements as necessary.

Make sure that dead branches have been cleared from around your house.

This will reduce the risk that they will fall during the storm and damage your home.

Consider the use of sandbags to put into the low areas around your house to help keep flood water at bay.

MD/CEO, Afriland Properties Plc, Uzo Oshogwe, Speaks at JLL Masterclass

MD/CEO, Afriland Properties Plc, Uzo Oshogwe, recently joined other experts from diverse industries and markets to discuss ways to leverage Real Estate portfolio in achieving sustainable business growth, in a just concluded masterclass hosted by JLL.

The masterclass which was organized in collaboration with The Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria (HBSAN), held discussions on Real Estate portfolio performance and importance on business strategy, balance sheet optimization to drive business success and the importance of the Corporate Real Estate function in upcoming trends.

Speaking on how Afriland Properties Plc. has been able to sustain growth, Uzo Oshogwe stated that, “Sustainability is not achievable without strategy. We have a five year plan which drives our decisions and policies.  Though strategy is crucial to business sustainability, you must also be flexible and innovative as events unfold. Recently, we reworked our mission and vision statements to our purpose; Improving lives by investing in the development and maintenance of world-class Real Estate offerings across Africa”.

Also on the panel was Ewout Holst, Head of Corporate Solutions, Sub-Saharan Africa, JLL; Rob Giles, Head of Retail Banking, Diamond Bank; Obinna Ekezie, MD/CEO, Wakanow and  Dr Ijeoma Nwagwu, Lecturer, Lagos Business School.

   

CBN picks eight microfinance banks for FG’s ‘My Own Home’ scheme

Brighter days may lie around in the corner for prospective homeowners, following plans to introduce a public private partnership initiative that seeks to increase access to housing finance in Nigeria through mortgage guarantee insurance and microfinance scheme.

The scheme, ‘My Own Home’ comes as an offshoot of the Nigeria Housing Finance Programme (NHFP) set up by the Federal Government and implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with the support of World Bank’s $300 million loan.

NHFP is creating the enabling environment for strengthening the nation’s housing sector by setting up sustainable framework by mortgage originators to access long-term refinancing. The new scheme is expected to scale-up mortgage and housing finance awareness.

Under the ‘My Own Home scheme, eight micro finance banks have been selected to stimulate housing finance for low-income earners in the formal and informal sectors. They will benefit from a $15 million technical assistance, which LAPO Microfinance Bank is piloting in the housing sector.

Specifically, the eight micro finance banks are expected to facilitate access to flexible housing finance for low-income earners for incremental construction or home improvement. “It could be financing to buy a piece of land for building or laying foundation on an existing land and commence building stage by stage.

“After every stage of building, and with a good history of repayment, the microfinance bank keeps financing the customer until the building is completed. Housing microfinance is not a mortgage and is not for the purchase of homes.

“Housing microfinance is closer to our traditional sense of incremental construction. Not everyone has money to finance mortgage but under the microfinance scheme, a homeowner can stretch his building plan in such a way that he takes different tranches of loan as he builds,” according to Mr. Adedeji Adesemoye, CBN’s Head, Project Administration Team of the National Housing Fund Programme.

He revealed in Lagos that the technical assistance would be provided in partnership with the Frankfurt School of Management and AFC Consultants International, Germany. “The objective is to catalyse the growth of the housing sector through de-risking the housing finance value chain and improving access to finance,” he said.

Adesemoye stated that the programme is targeted at inspiring the younger generations of Nigerians on the need to key into mortgage process and start owning homes. “We need to educate our people that owning a home with a mixture of equity and debt is not a negative thing; having a home that you will live in the next 50 years does not require you to spend all your life savings,” he said.

Originally published in The Guardian

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