There are some emerging realities in real estate that should cause a relook at the concept of location as an important component, says the Vice Chair of Fine and Country West Africa, Mrs. Udo Okonjo

Location is considered prime in real estate, but emerging facts, according to the Vice Chair of Fine and Country West Africa, Mrs. Udo Okonjo, has made it imperative to double check this line of investment.

This was among the outcomes of Fine and Country West Africa yearly Real Estate Leaders Network (RELN) breakfast Gold Session held at the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, recently.

The vision of RELN is to bring together thought leaders and investors in the real estate sector to discuss the economic outlook and provide a guide for real estate opportunities in the year.

Leaders ranging from developers, financiers, investors, HNIs, regulators, researchers and marketers, gathered to discuss the roadmap for 2017 after reviewing the recently past year.

On hand to drive these discussions were the keynote speaker, Professor Pat Utomi, and the host speaker, Mrs Udo Okonjo. “Real estate as we know it is, however, changing.

The concept of location needs a re-look. Prime locations still remain prime locations but some emerging locations are beginning to require a relook at the definition of location,” Mrs. Okonjo said, “Location has to be re-discussed as access is redefining the value of certain locations.”

Another important emerging trend which needs to be explored, she said is the millennia housing market, which is a huge part of the middle income market. “The millennial market basically needs affordable functional spaces- 2 to 3 bedrooms.

This market is important for real estate developers as they must begin to target first time home owners and not just repeat buyers. Properties re-engineered and built for solution for these emerging markets.” She emphasised that “even the premium real estate market has its peculiar pockets of opportunities.

Prime locations still remain prime locations but properties on prime locations can be re-designed to fit the present day reality. One of which is the apartment style of living as against the villa style.

Market intelligence is increasingly pointing towards affordability and accessibility, which does not necessarily imply low cost housing.
Oakwood residences typifies this model of market intelligence- contemporary apartments in the prime Ikoyi suburb”

She said the confidence level of diaspora investing should be addressed and developed to attract direct foreign investments, and that there are retail hub opportunities in locations like Ikoyi and Lekki Phase 1 since “these locations do not have primary retail hubs and the current Lekki Phase 1 Admiralty road stores already mirrors a retail high street. This shows the already existing need for a retail hub.”

This year’s theme was ‘Economic and Real Estate Outlook 2017: Investing in challenging times.’ This theme was borne out of the need to champion discussions around identifying where the opportunities are in the perceived challenging times. Udo Okonjo observed that, “It is needless to say that there are pockets of opportunities, the question to answer now is, where these pockets of opportunities are?”

She described the real estate sector as a mirror of the economy, saying the real estate sector directly reflects the economic status of the nation. In the same vein, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, a contributor to the discussion held that crisis in the housing/real estate sector has twice as much effect on the GDP as that of the financial sector. Thus, the real estate sector is, arguably, an institutional determinant of any nation’s store of wealth.

The key note speaker, Professor Pat Utomi, referred to how J.R. Simplot, the father of frozen French fry in America, built his billion dollar potato business during the great depression of the 1920s.
Hence, professor Utomi’s stand that foolishness actually ends and those who realise that foolishness ends will enjoy the first movers’ advantage. His session focused on four growth drivers’ framework; policy choice, institutions, human capital and entrepreneurship.

“These variables are largely determined and influenced by leadership. Leadership determines the melting point amongst these independent variables. Uzo Oshogwe, Managing Director, Afriland Properties Plc, moderated the contribution session and was also on hand as a resource person.

She stated that the last two years have rearranged the focus of developers. “Unlike what was obtainable in the past- building for off-loaders- properties are now built with functionality at the key front.”

She spoke extensively about opportunities in the providing universities hostels. University management have begun to partner with developers on hostel projects and this is a readily available opportunity.

She, alongside Dr. Biodun Adedipe of BAA Consult, suggested that a pressure group be put together in the real estate industry to lobby and inform the government and law makers on policies that can boost the real estate industry.

They said such policies should include legislations on continuity of projects when dealing with state and federal government. “This will forestall the instances of abandon projects prevalent with change of administration. If this and many more are done, the confidence level of investors will greatly increase.”


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