Stakeholders charge Lagos on home ownership
While government admitted that its role is to create conducive environment for private investors in its quests for housing delivery, stakeholders reeled out sundry requests that would attract investment in the sector to ensure 20,000 units in 2018.
TO keep the increasing housing demand in Lagos State under control, the state government must adopt a multi-approach strategy; else, crisis of homeownership in the state would continue to escalate.
Though not totally new to the industry, several of these approaches were thrown up at a one-day forum, organised by the Lagos State Ministry for Housing.
The event, which took place at Protea Hotel, Ikeja, had in attendance, foremost private developers, government officials, mortgage bank operators and professionals in the built environment, among others.
What necessitated the parley was government’s decision to provide 20,000 homes of different house types between now and 2018.
Realising it would be a mere desire if stakeholders are not carried along, the Lagos State Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Gbolahan Lawal said government would ensure it creates enabling environment rather than going into actual construction. “It is not the business of government to build houses, but rather, to provide the necessary incentives that would attract the attention of private sector”.
After exhaustive deliberations, a communiqué was released wherein it was suggested that government should define its role in housing delivery, for example, whether is it for profit or ‘welfarist’ and within what boundary; ascertain credible records of demand/need and the shortfall in housing; provide comfort for developers in terms of infrastructure provision through future project discount on land and other such charges.
Besides, it was also demanded that government should ensure easy accessibility to titled land, ensure simplification/timely delivery planning approval; specification of the price bands, which would include the cost of land and facilitate means of lowering the cost systems building; assist in access to funds, including affordability gap fund; standardize housing delivery methods and facilitation of industrialization of housing.
Others include, facilitation of information exchange among the developers and revisiting legislation for regulation of housing provision through professionalism; do more on mortgage counseling; facilitate access to funding from capital market for construction finance and pooling of developers’ systems with a view to ensure standardization; proffer solution to preclude mortgage defaulter, including insurance and rent-to own as alternative to mortgages.
During discussion, it was agreed that the issue at hand required a multi-pronged approach, particularly, in Lagos, where its mega-city status is putting pressure on the existing accommodations.
Among issues discussed include how to establish correct data of those who need houses and who have funds to back up their need; issues of land administration; construction methods and building materials, and how they are hampering or improving housing provisions and delivery agents and model for housing delivery.
Others are available finance mechanisms, mortgage facilities, industry’s standard and regulations and government policies.
Former Chairman, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Brigadier-General Tunde Reis, who moderated the event was of the view that to advance the course of housing delivery, developers, as the key driver, mortgage operators, policy makers, professionals in the built environment must come together and painstakingly look at the best approach to meet housing deficits in the country.
According to Reis, no industry can grow on guessing, therefore, there is need to know the actual number of shortfall in housing needs, the potential buyers, available land, preferred location of the would-be home owners, availability of mortgage facilities, amongst others.
“People have been brandishing 17 million housing deficit in Nigeria for close to a decade when I was chairman of FHA. But the question is where is the data? Does it mean that no homes have been delivered to bridge the gap since then? This shows that we are just speculating and with that, we cannot get anywhere. Reiss said.