Sterling Adopts Unique Strategies to Combat National Housing Deficit

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L-R: Head, Non-Interest Banking Investment, Sterling Bank, Abimbola Olukoju; Publisher City People Magazine and Awards Convener, Seye Kehinde; and Group Head, Non-Interest Banking, Sterling Bank Plc, Basheer Oshodi, during the presentation of the Most Real Estate Friendly Bank Award to Sterling Bank in Lagos… recently

Sterling Bank Plc has adopted unique strategies to increase the nation’s housing stock. Bennett Oghiforeports

The huge deficit level in Nigeria’s housing sector is worrisome. As at 2012, experts estimated the deficit to be at a minimum of 17 million units and recently raised an alarm that the figure could be up to 25million units if a proper investigation of the state of affairs in the sector is undertaken. Worse still, experts say the majority of Nigerians live in blighted areas that are unfit for human habitation.

Affirming this, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, disclosed that Nigeria has been contending with a huge deficit in the housing sector over the years. He decried the current situation which effectively enables only one percent of the Nigerian population access mortgage facilities, saying it is extremely low relative to a country like the United Kingdom with 77 percent.

Fashola expressed concern that the deficit is apparent both on the supply and demand sides. According to him, it is not just that the housing situation is grossly inadequate to satisfy the needs of the population, access to mortgage is also inadequate. The minister noted that financial institutions have allocated barely one percent of their loan portfolios to housing and about 11 percent to construction in the last 30 years.

Against this backdrop, it is commendable that Sterling Bank Plc is partnering with real estate development firms to reduce the country’s housing deficit. The bank’s housing sector interventions are being executed by its Commercial, Institutional and Non-Interest Banking Groups through partial and fullfinancing of viable real estate development projectsacross the country.

At the 2018 City People Real Estate Awards, Sterling Bank Plc was named the most Real Estate Friendly bank of the year for the significant role it is playing in the housing sector. The innovative model the bank has adopted to cater to the demand and supply sides is noteworthy. As a member of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), Sterling Bank has been able to mobilize funds for home-finance/mortgage refinancing.

While receiving the award, Basheer Oshodi, Phd, Group Head, Non-Interest Banking, Sterling BankPlc revealed that the bank has committed significant resources to the real estate development sector toameliorate the impact of the huge national housing deficit on citizens across different socio-economic classes. According to Mr. Oshodijudging from the impact the bank has made in retail real estate financing, it is ready to provide credit to real estate developers who adopt prudent project selection and management models.

Some of the housing estates include the part-financing of Crown Court Mabushi in Abuja for Crown Realities Plc. The project comprises 72 units of 3-bedroom flats, 18 units of 4-bedroom semi–detached houses and 16 units of detached 4-bedroom houses.

Prior to this, Sterling Bank had part-financed the prestigious Crown Estate in Lekki, located on a 41.7hectares gated private estate along the Lagos-Epe Expressway in 2000.

Other residential projects part–financed by Sterling Bank in collaboration with developers include Diamond Estate, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos; 360 low-cost housing units for Diya Fatimilehin & Co., Friends’ Colony Estate, Lekki Lagos; a 210 semi–detached and detached housing units for Aircom Nigeria Limited, Common Wealth Court, Lekki; 36 apartments of Defacto Properties Limited and Bourdillon Court Estate,  Lekki, Lagos comprising192 housing units (flats and Terrace houses) for Aircom Nigeria Limited.

Others are Cromwell Court’s 180 units of apartments; Milverton Estate’s 240 units of apartments, Northern Foreshore Estate’s 566 mixed housing units; Napier Garden’s 220 mixed housing units, all for Aircom Nigeria Limited in Lekki, Lagos and Tarino Towers’s 29 units of apartments for FMT Parkview Limited located in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Sterling Bank also part-financed Visage Apartment’s Victoria Island Lagos, 40 units of apartments for Sat Leasing Limited on Victoria Island, Lagos; Primewaterview Gardens’s, phases I & II 539 units of apartments for Primewaterview Ltd in Lekki Lagos; Eko Court, Parkview Estate’s,12 units of apartments for Samtl Properties Ltd in Ikoyi, Lagos; Happy Haven’s Banana Island’s 16 units of apartments for Samtl Properties Ltd in Ikoyi, Lagos; Doby Haven’s 20 units of apartments for Eco Building Ltd in Lekki, Lagos and Pearly Gate Estate’s 40 mixed housing units for Edward Properties Konsult.

The bank has also wholly financed another residential estate for Crown Court in Durumi, Abuja which was inaugurated recently by the Minister of the FCT, Mr. Mohammed Bello.

Managing Director and Chief Executive, Crown Realties Plc, Mr. Darl Uzu, commended Sterling Bank for stepping in to provide critical financing for development projects in the country, particularly in a period of recession. Uzu said the financial institution has proven to be a dependable partner in times of need for Crown Realities Plc.

“At the height of the recession when funds were scarce and investors’ confidence was at its lowest, Sterling Bank stood by us and extended credit to finance our operations,” he said, adding that Crown Realties will not disappoint the bank and will do everything possible to further strengthen the confidence reposed in the company. “We’ll always do our part every time.”

Extending its successful Public Private Partnership model into the real estate development sector, the bank financed Sterling Court Housing Estate in collaboration with Lagos State Government through Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area.

Conceptualised by the concessionaires in 2009, Sterling Court is located within Ajelogo Housing Scheme in Alapere, Lagos. It consists of contemporary apartment building designs, ultra-modern terraces and duplexes which meets housing needs of middle class families. The housing project covers the construction of 40 blocks of 320 housing units, commencing with 26 blocks of 116 housing units in the first phase in 2017.

Promoter of the Sterling Court housing project, Mr. Owolabi Kola-Balogun, CEO, OKB & Associates, said Sterling Court intends to create a world class housing estate which improves the living conditions of middle income families and their quality of life at an affordable rate. “The population of Lagos State is growing in geometric proportions while the provision of urban infrastructure and housing to meet this demand is not growing at a commensurate level. This has resulted in acute housing shortage for the teeming Lagos populace which is estimated at five million representing 31 per cent of the estimated national housing deficit of 18 million. This figure is growing at an exponential rate necessitating the urgent need to provide affordable mass housing to help cushion the effect on the masses.”

Also commenting on Sterling Court, Mr. Taiwo Adeleke, Project Manager, Triarch Projects and Services Limited, disclosed that financiers of the housing project, Sterling Bank Plc has a strong desire to boost the real estate development value chain in Nigeria by transforming concepts and ideas into reality.

The bank is presently exploring the completion of over 500 units of affordable houses using non-interest banking or partnership contract for the Ibeshe, Ikorodu housing project amongst others.

There is no doubt that Sterling Bank is making significant contributions to the growth and development of Nigeria’s beleaguered housing sector. Although it may represent a drop in the ocean, the giant strides of Sterling Bank in the housing sector would certainly play a role in ameliorating the situation. It is hoped that other corporate bodies would emulate Sterling Bank’s laudable effort and help to reduce the housing deficit so that every Nigerian will have access to decent housing.