Realtors demand freezes in conversion of homes to commercial purposes
In line with the goal of protecting their field of practice and monitoring the real estate sector, realtors have urged governments to intervene in the area of tightening control and restricting conversion of housing to commercial uses.
They argue that such moves are reducing the existing housing stock and advised that governments should not consider housing as a business but a compelling social responsibility to the citizenry, which adequate budgetary allocations must be made in annual budgets.
In Lagos and other cities, the conversion of homes to commercial uses have become a norm, with houses given way to shopping malls and offices. In some cases, States like Lagos have backed such moves with new land zoning arrangements.
Members of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Faculty of Housing who made the submission after its annual housing summit recently in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said that owner occupy housing should be encouraged as a policy to engender a sense of commitment to neighbourhood development.
The body recommended that governments should develop a statutory housing strategy towards increasing the supply of homes to address the menace of homelessness, overcrowding and rough sleeping in the cities.
Besides, they say, federal government and its agencies should develop already acquired land in the states; cities regeneration should be adopted as one of the options for housing delivery in the country.
In the communique signed by Dr. Victor Akujuru, Oladapo Olaiya and Solomon Mkpese, the faculty urged the federal government to evolve a more holistic approach that involves councils and States in close partnership with the private sector in housing.
The operators should patronize modern methods of construction concept as it engenders speed construction, more efficient, requires less transportation of materials, and results in less wastage.
“Government should intervene in that areas of reducing restrictions or challenges in accessing land for developers, provision of infrastructure to reduce cost of construction, creation of financial instruments to facilitate funding for housing, and practice efficient bureaucracy devoid of unpatriotic political distortions to ensure uninterrupted implementation of housing policies.
“In the exercise of is power of eminent domain, government should initiate, on terms that are not exploitative, compulsory redevelopment lease on properties that are economically and functionally obsolete but with reasonable structural integrity and potential, which can be unleashed with the infusion of public funds as the owners may not be in a position to afford,” the group said.
They also canvassed that the nation’s mortgage system should be completely unbundled in a manner that allows key players perform specialized roles; Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria should be recapitalized to N500 billion to widen the national mortgage space and deepening the housing finance market.
Estate surveyors also urged the federal authorities to engage the services of qualified professionals in the execution of the proposed 10,000 housing units in each State to ensure its success.
Lastly, the group made case for the appointment of estate surveyors as project manager to the housing project, “ as he remains the only neutral professional to any building project and his expertise is required right from conception of the project up to site acquisition through design on to construction and management of the country.”