Osonuga: We Must Restructure Mortgage Industry to Address Housing Challenge

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Oluwatobi Osonuga

The Managing Director of Chateau Royal Real Estate Limited, Oluwatobi Osonuga, tells Bennett Oghifo government must restructure the mortgage industry at the grassroots to address the nation’s housing challenge

Tell us about yourself, your core expertise, ‘Affordable Luxury’

Chateau Royal Real Estate Limited was incorporated out of the need to provide affordable luxury property offering to working class Nigerians and make property ownership accessible and practical. We have several other real estate businesses- Scott Harris Realtor, Shortlet-Lagos, Lagos Realtors Hub – and over the years, we have been able to make a good number of Nigerians property owners and helped many grow their wealth through real estate investment.

What projects have you done so far?
In the last few years, we have done quite a number of remarkable projects such as Maplewoods Ibeju-Lekki; Peach Palms Abijo; Maplewoods 2 Siriwon; and currently fast selling Maplewoods Plus, Opposite La Campagne Tropicana Resort, Ibeju-Lekki. We also have Rubyfields Okun-Imedu, Ibeju Lekki, with our housing development in De-Luxe Bespoke in Sangotedo and De-Luxe Bespoke, Mowe. These property offerings are accessed with an initial deposit of as low as N100,000 and flexible payment plan for over 12 months.

What do you see as challenges in the nation’s housing sector and how can we address them?
It is no news that there is over 20 million housing deficit in Nigeria, even as the population continues to grow by the day. Housing has been a major challenge in Nigeria for decades and there seems to be a preponderance of ineffective or motionless housing policies that have led to the inability of the government to address the housing challenge. Other challenges are the high inflation and interest rates, low awareness about Mortgage Financing Arrangements and the lack of an efficient mortgage system. To address the housing challenges, we might first start by restructuring the mortgage industry at the grassroots, and then other issues will be resolved.

What are your growth plans in the industry?
After being actively involved in the industry for over three years, recording commendable achievements, we don’t intend to relent on our hard work and exceptional service. Our mission is to foster a robust real estate market that is supported by innovation: where we constantly provide bankable real estate investment, brokerage and development services that are revolutionised.

Some real estate firms are in court or have folded because they couldn’t fulfill their promise to subscribers. How should prospective buyers protect themselves?

With a large number of “real estate companies” springing up around the country daily, it’s important for prospective buyers to do the appropriate research into the companies they partner with, so as to protect themselves. Many offer very outrageous returns on real estate investments but due to several reasons are unable to pay back, thereby leading to several issues. Buying property is a very delicate asset purchase that must be done with the best and most trustworthy professionals in the business. I advise prospective buyers to always do the due diligence before making such financial commitments.

What are your views about rent-to-own?
I think it is a great initiative by the Lagos State government in a bid to make property ownership accessible and affordable with a 10-year payment plan. Quite impressive I must say. It is a great way to reduce the housing deficit of the state and also encourage mortgage culture, but I believe strongly that a lot can still be achieved through the Public-Private-Partnership.

The federal government wants to establish a housing programme that will be under the vice president. How can estate developers key into this?
I must commend the efforts of the government to solve the housing issues in the county. With regards to the Family Home Fund, the government will be able to intervene in mortgage financing so that developers can build special houses to the specification of the federal government. It’s also a job creation opportunity for those in the construction industry and the right step in the right direction once we can follow this through, backed by realistic policies. I will also encourage that Real Estate Developers of Nigeria (REDAN), which are private practitioners, should not be left behind in such laudable Programme, because the way to be forward significantly in this critical time is effective collaborations.

Do you think the FMBN is financing housing development as it should with both individual and estate developers’ loan?
I think the FMBN has done well so far, but I believe more can be done. Based on a report they’ve been able to successfully process and disburse loans of about N75 Billion, as well as financing the construction of over 7,000 housing units. For a rapidly growing population, this is quite absurd, but I believe a lot more can be done, especially for individuals. There seems to be a seemingly long process of applying for the loans coupled with the lack of education regarding them. Majority of people are even unaware of the requirements to access mortgage loans. FMBN should also look into granting a lot more estate developers loans, as they also play an integral part to achieving the nation’s housing goals.