CategoriesBlog Real Estate

7 Ways to Enhance your Energy Level and Maximize your Productivity.

  1. Get More Sleep
    If you often feel tired throughout the day, you may need more quality sleep. Try going to bed earlier and reducing screen time before bed.
  2. Reduce Stress
    High levels of stress can make you feel tired and drained. Finding ways to minimize lifestyle-related stress can help keep up your energy levels.
  3. Move More
    If you live a sedentary lifestyle and feel low on energy, participating in regular exercises like brisk walking or cycling can boost your energy levels.
  4. Eat a Nutritious Diet
    A diet based on whole, healthy foods benefits your health and your energy levels. In contrast, a diet high in processed foods can negatively affect your energy levels.
  5. Avoid Added Sugar
    Eating foods high in sugar can give you a short-term energy boost followed by a slump. To avoid this, minimize your intake and focus on eating whole foods instead.
  6. Stay Hydrated
    Dehydration can make you feel tired. Make sure to drink enough water throughout the day and respond to your thirst, especially during exercise.
  7. Be Social
    Getting out of the house and mingling with other people is beneficial for both your energy levels and your health.
CategoriesBlog Real Estate

IF INVESTING WAS A PENALTY; Would you score?

Yes, it is the World Cup season and there are lessons to be learned from the games- especially as regards investing. While we are excited about Nigeria making it to the world cup and not so happy about losing our first game- we stay patriotic & positive for better results in the future.

Have you made any losses in your investments in the past? You cannot give up now- It’s time to review & play the next game with superior knowledge, skills, focus & positivity.

We can only imagine how Lionel Messi felt losing that penalty kick; we are happy an African country finally got a first goal of the tournament yesterday even though they eventually lost the match largely due to losing focus just as they got into extra time- all these twists and turns make for a good investment analogy.

Are you an astute investor with years of experience & returns or are you still behind the ball, contemplating what, where and how to invest? This week we bring you 4 key elements to successful investing. Remember even the world’s best players like Lionel Messi with three consecutive FIFA Ballons d’Or, including an unprecedented fourth as well as Barcelona’s all-time top scorer can still lose a penalty kick.

What are the factors to consider before investing or while you’re in an investment cycle already;

  1. STANCE; Your (financial) standing is very important; before investing it is imperative that you conduct a detailed evaluation of your finances to make sure you are prepared to see the investment opportunity through. Real Estate opportunities abound everywhere you look, from Social Media to Billboards & even flyers in traffic. A good investor does not commit to any opportunity until a careful review of the investment has been done vis-à-vis your capability. That way you do not to start what you cannot finish.
  2. SIGHT & FOCUS; Like a good footballer- every investment player must KEEP THEIR EYE ON THE BALL. You can not afford to have too many things in your sight at the same time. You must imagine every shot you take will determine the outcome of your investment. Keep your ball (investment) in sight. Hold it by yourself & place it in the right spot; Streamline your options with your vision (& outcome) in mind. If you are uncertain seek the expertise of real estate professionals in making this all-important decision.
  3. SHOOT; Or like we like coined it this June- #JustDoIt. After a careful review of your financial standing as well as an expert evaluation of your investment options. JUST DO IT! GOT FOR IT! Take the dive! Do not be crippled by analysis paralysis. It doesn’t serve you in any way to stand behind the ball & not take the shot. Remember you will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take! There is no time as good as now!
  4. SCORE & WIN; Always remember the objective of your investment- to make good profit. We understand from experience that the most important question every investor will ask is “What’s in It for me?” this is why at Fine & Country we deploy an adept process in choosing our real estate opportunities to ensure that our investors score every time! But not just score, we are committed to our investors- WINNING! i.e. we do not believe in marginal profit- we believe in exponential returns. So, whatever you do- make sure you score & win!

IT’S A GOAL!!!!

The 3 magical words every Nigerian looked forward to hearing on Saturday June 16th 2018

As we wish our super eagles a more positive outcome going forward, we also wish our investors the very best in their future decisions.

Get excited! We are working hard on some new & exciting investment opportunities at Fine & Country to be announced soon. Go ahead & contact our team if you’re looking for carefully profiled & profitable real estate investment opportunities.

CategoriesBlog Real Estate

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SPACE; beauty and the beast

How often do you think about your space?

Have you ever imagined living or working in a forest with tall trees all around- how would you feel? Would the sounds of the breeze on the trees and woody scents help you concentrate? You would probably feel uncomfortable working in such environment. Looking at your work environment, how does it make you feel? Do you feel challenged by the space around you, does it limit or enable you? Does what you see, feel and smell help you stay focused and relaxed, or does it distract you and keep your mind wandering?

There’s a Chinese thought called “Feng Shui”, described as “a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation of space in relation to the flow of energy, it is a belief that the way you arrange objects in your space affects your success, health and happiness

The spaces we occupy to large extent shapes our performance & productivity & ultimately- our results.

A large part of our lives is spent in physical interaction with the space around us. The spaces we occupy directly influence our psychological well-being and creative performance. Space has the ability to shape who we are and how we behave, and the fact that many of us spend large amounts of time, even years, working in the same space, it makes sense to optimize that space for maximum benefit.

In 2005 a study looking at a range of organisations found that allowing employees an element of control over their working space and environments engendered increased satisfaction and productivity. Interestingly, lots of developers, urban planners, designers, architects and business owners are accepting the knowledge that a large part of how we define ourselves and success is caught up in the close relationship we have with the spaces we occupy and the way in which we inhabit them. In reality space has so much influence on the way we live and work such that it can easily empower or dis-empower our lives.

Beauty and the Beast

Let us juxtapose two concepts; the Beauty and the Beast psychology of spaces. The Beauty psychology of space creates a synergy between recreation, relaxation, serenity and work.  It provides for more flexibility and room for relaxation and enjoyment – creating a contented and happy work environment. An environment with wide open space to use for networking and collaboration with a clear and relaxed mind to get work done easily.  A case in point is ‘The Finery, Ikoyi’  a beautiful well-spaced green landscape located in the heart of Ikoyi, Lagos- Nigeria. The Finery provides a serene environment for collaboration and co-creation, equipped with a well-trimmed garden, a studio for events, generous car-park space and a work-fun experience.

‘The Beast mode’ is generally believed to connote the concept of hard-core, high impact activity; the Beast Space for the purpose of our expose will be a high rise building in the middle of a busy business district that provides a good working space environment meant to produce, store and maintain enormous volume of knowledge and information rather than a place to simply perform work and relax. Spaces in Beast mode are characterised by their structure and construction, they are mostly high-rise building with creative architectural urban designs that gives a big visual effect to people so that it is considered as a critical factor for a conducive work environment.

‘Beast’ spaces emphasize on mostly brick, mortar, glass, structure and form. We have a couple of office spaces that fall within the Beast mode –The Post Square on the intersection of Adeola Odeku & Ologun Agbaje streets, in Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. It is a premium office space that offers flexible spaces to suit the ever changing, dynamic needs of fast growing organizations as well as generous underground parking.

 

CategoriesBlog Real Estate

7 STEPS TO OWNING YOUR FIRST HOME 

The reality of having your dream house is a beautiful feeling, it is indeed an amazing experience everyone would love to and should have.

Buying your first property can be a challenging task, but the beauty of it is millions of people have been there and have successfully gone through this process to purchase their first property; armed with the right information, you will have the best possible chance of getting a great, affordable property at a price you can afford.

Because of the risks associated with the process- one needs to be cautious. These steps are meant to guide you through the process of purchasing your first property. You should follow the steps in order to ensure that it is done safely and properly.

STEP 1; FINANCIAL CLARITY; What is your budget?

Before getting too excited about your dream house and clicking through pages of online listings, there’s need to do a serious audit of your finances. First, you need to take a close look at your monthly income and savings. Do you earn enough income to generate the amount required to purchase your dream house? Don’t even consider purchasing a property before you have emergency savings account with three to six months of living expenses. You need to consider a property you can afford, a property within your means.

Buying a property is a big step involving substantial long-term financial commitment, so think hard about what you can afford.

STEP 2; Knowledge of the Market/Market Insight

Yes – you will have to conduct an extensive research about the real estate industry- trends, insights and information that will assist you in making an informed decision. These can be gotten from real estate experts, property magazines & other online resources as well as real estate reports. Fine & Country also conducts bespoke market research for intending buyers. (Please watch this space for an event targeted towards first time home buyers this April).

Having clearly identified your budget and gained relevant knowledge about the real estate market, figuring out a good payment plan for your new home is very important.

STEP 3 – PAYMENT PLAN:

Most first time home buyers are always under the impression that paying for a home only involves applying for a loan and making payment to the developer, however, It will surprise you to find that there are various payment types & options. Figuring out the best payment plan for you can go a long way in ensuring your financial stability.

  • Down payment plan: This involves you making an initial deposit of the price upfront to the developer. The remaining amount is then released by your bank to the developer within 45-60 days, the duration may vary depending on what is agreed upon between yourself, your bank and the developer.
  • Possession-linked payment plan: This is a more straight forward payment plan that involves making a down payment at the time of booking the apartment and the remaining balance is paid once the buyer takes possession of the property. It is ideally suited for first time home buyers looking to purchase completed projects or projects near completion.

STEP 4 – IDEAL LOCATION:

Your intended property location largely influences your budget. Location is a key factor that influences the price of your property. Often times you need to consider proximity to your place of work, if you have a family you need to consider proximity to your children’s school, family, friends, place of worship and other socio-environmental facilities. This should help you narrow down a general region in which you wish to live.

To be continued…

CategoriesBlog Real Estate Uncategorized

THE WATERFRONT ADVANTAGE – How your view influences your lifestyle

There’s something unique about Waterfront properties that creates a standout factor to your real estate investment portfolio. Whenever you have an opportunity to invest in a piece of property that has anything to do with water, lakes, oceans, rivers, streams or even artificially created water features – you should take advantage, even if you are within view of it and not with direct access.

Direct waterfront access is however the golden standard. There is exponential increase in value (especially in estate/developments where it is in limited supply). Sometimes people waste time trying to negotiate a great deal- and negotiating is great, but never lose an opportunity to invest in a waterfront property if you can afford it. Also be ready to pay the premium because it always has a guaranteed exit. The demand and supply ratio will always make it worthwhile.

So when next you want make a property investment, you have to consider how big a difference choosing a waterfront position could make to your portfolio

We would share with you 3 main reasons why you should invest in Waterfront property.

Health and wellbeing benefits
Research shows that living close to water has significant benefits to one’s mental state, the theory being that water has a calming effect. Further research also shows that living by the water offers more fitness and recreation options. Also, conscious health and wellbeing is becoming a top priority for Nigerians, influencing how they commute to work, spend their leisure time and even where they choose to live. As result, it should become a major criteria for investors to opt for waterfront properties to facilitate a healthy lifestyle.

A rewarding investment

Waterfront properties accounts for a significant value in terms of return on investment. Waterside properties are normally scarce to find and as a result, it allows them to retain their value over a longer period as compared to properties in the city hub. Along with its excellent resale value, it can also be used for lease purposes. People want to lease waterfront homes for the same reasons that you want to buy one.

Demand for the water’s edge

Everyone desires the strong wellbeing and affluence factor associated with waterfronts so it’s always in demand. Research shows that a property on the water’s edge is on average worth more than those located inland, the more reason why a waterfront property in Banana Island (Ikoyi) is far more expensive than properties even within Ikoyi and also in high demand.  The reason for this comes down to the simple laws of economics. Properties which are genuinely on the water are few and far between. The exclusivity of waterfront properties often requires larger upfront capital, however the long-term capital appreciation will be far greater. Therefore, ensure your finances are in order so you can make an offer the minute you have an opportunity.

CategoriesBlog Real Estate Uncategorized

EXPLORING EKO ATLANTIC CITY

Eko Atlantic is arguably Africa’s most ambitious project and most significant real estate opportunity. The Fine & Country WA team had an exciting time exploring Eko Atlantic with Mrs. Ibiene Ogolo, MD, Eko Development Company.

Sitting on 10 million square meters of land, and 2km off the shore of ‘Bar Beach’ as we knew it, sits a jewel Eko Atlantic. Eko Atlantic is bounded by beautiful coastlines on the Western, Eastern and southern borders. The Great Wall of Lagos stands out as a shore protection wall separating Eko Atlantic from the Atlantic ocean. This new horizon city seeks to satisfy the needs for financial, commercial, residential and tourist accommodations in Lagos. The visionary project kicked off in 2002 and has made great strides since then. Eko Atlantic promises to be a self-sufficient city with a state of the art high-tech infrastructure with its own portable water Infrastructure and dedicated Power lines. Eko Atlantic resulted as a solution to protect the shoreline of Victoria Island and also to create a city that would be well-planned as well as developed in accordance with 21st century best practices. Speaking from the perspective of investment, this project is a critical part of the transformation of Lagos, Nigeria, and Africa at large.

 

In actual sense, there is a real dearth of knowledge about the  Eko Atlantic project and its impact on the Environment.  In keeping with one of the objectives of Our Refined Investor Series, (you can learn more about it here), addressing the myths and misconceptions, we delved in deeper to understand Eko Atlantic’s impact on the environment. At the start of the Eko Atlantic project, an Environmental Impact Assessment Report was commissioned and granted to Royal Haskoning, a leading EIA firm in consultation with the Federal Ministry of the Environment and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) as well as Lagos State Ministry of the Environment (LASMOE). The Eko Atlantic Shoreline and Reclamation Project seeks to provide approximately 1000 hectares of high-quality land for development within the heart of Lagos, and will indeed offer a long-term solution to the shoreline erosion problems at Victoria Island, Lagos but many people are unaware about the major positives. That’s why one of our objectives is to address the myths and misconceptions surrounding real estate in Nigeria. Fears around the Eko Atlantic are largely unfounded and relies on the assumption that all things Nigerian are fraught with a substandard approach.
To provide a bit of background, and include excerpts from the EIA report, The shoreline of Victoria Island has retreated significantly over the past century, and the main cause for this erosion began with the blocking of coastal sediment transport after the construction of two moles of breakwaters (between 1908 and 1912) at the entrance to the Port of Lagos. Coastal protection activity was frequently commissioned to reduce the erosion threat to Victoria Island, including several nourishment schemes, However, those attempts only temporarily mitigated the erosion and there continued to be intermittent flooding in this coastal area. Many would remember the erosion which culminated in 2005, when the protective beach disappeared with resultant flood damage to the road infrastructure and property along Bar beach.

The Eko Atlantic project adapted a two tonged approach to solve, firstly, the environmental threat of the intrusion of seawater and the damage that would have caused damage to commercial property along that axis, but even more so, providing additional strategically planned urban areas within Lagos, recognizing  increasing population growth and aspirations for greater economic development.

This project is certainly a focal point for investors capitalizing on rich development growth based on massive demand – and a gateway to emerging markets of the continent. Eko Atlantic presents a unique opportunity for the discerning Investor and is unarguably Africa’s boldest and most visionary project.

 

CategoriesBlog Real Estate Uncategorized

Interview with Businessday: Our key objective through RIS is to inspire confidence in real estate market’

Our economy is looking up once again having exited a 13-month crippling recession. But real estate is still lagging even when it is supposed to be a growth driver. How do you explain this?

Real estate is a solid asset class that mirrors the economy. It’s therefor unusual that it will be sluggish during a recession. It’s impossible for real estate to drive growth when the other fundamentals that drive real estate growth are not in place, including factors like monetary to economic policies, mortgages, and lower purchasing power. As much as housing is a necessity, it does not exist in a vacuum. People will take care of basic needs such as food and clothing at the lower end of the market, while at the premium end, corporates and high net worth individuals will attend to restructuring, in most cases downsizing their real estate requirements and budgets to suit a leaner business structure, as part of risk management. As such real estate will lag for a while, even as the economy recovers slowly. There are obviously more liquid and lower value assets that act as interim safe houses for investors including treasury bills and foreign currency hedges. Long-term, however, real estate catches up and overtakes the market, leading sometimes to what’s called a bubble. We are however a long way from any such heady investment climate, as bubbles are caused when there is excess liquidity and over confidence in the economy. 

 

In economic parlance, this sector is described as a laggard, always shifting after the economy must have shifted. How soon or otherwise do you think it will take for the sector to come around? 

As indicated earlier, real estate is best viewed as a long term asset and is not as liquid or easy to invest or dispose of especially in a developing economy. As incredible as the potential of the sector is, there simply has not been as strong an investment from all relevant stakeholders to ensure that it delivers the growth that it is capable of. Despite the NMRC which was established to stimulate private mortgages through the PMis at specific thresholds, is not yet delivering the impact. The Economic Recovery and Growth plan is itself a recovery plan, and as it takes effect, along with improved business confidence, we can expect to see it rub off on the real estate sector. In the meantime, the sector is in for a long haul of readjustments and needing reinvention across all segments but especially at the premium end of residential and offices, if it’s to deliver the growth expected of it. Serious real estate stakeholders are however not expecting to do business as usual, and that’s a good thing. It’s times of difficulty that brings out the best from those willing to adapt. I think better a slow reawakening of the sector with sustainable private investor strategies, regulatory structures, and policies than shallow growth. 

You and your collaborators, particularly BusinessDay, are perfecting plans to take Nigeria to the World early October. What story are you going to tell?

There’s so much that is positive about Nigeria while there’s a lot that still requires correction leaving room for growth and in some cases radical change. Our governance structures are a weak link and one that organizations such as ANAP Foundation and many other Non-Governmental Institutions are focused on building. That’s a good thing when we have private sector leaders who have no desire to play the ostrich just because they are not in full-time public service. They realize that the business climate and economy play a major role in their long term financial and corporate well being, but more importantly for the future generation. Real leaders think generationally. And so through this two-day event, we will we draw attention to and celebrate leadership, both in the private and public sector. We will highlight the fact that there are good leaders in Nigeria, have been and will continue to be. In addition, by drawing attention to various leading corporate brands not just in Real Estate, but home grown institutions, whether it’s Access Bank, Stanbic, First Bank, Seplat, Platform, Famfa Oil, South Energyx, Landmark, Crown Ltd and numerous others, we demonstrate that the story of Nigeria cannot be told without the private sector. It’s the leading brands, the selfless and visionary leaders in various sectors, and the innovative and astute real estate companies that champion change that we want to celebrate. We have to remember that most sectors of the economy interact with real estate and we have a story to tell about the real estate companies setting the pace and blazing trails even within the difficult terrain. The public sector, of course, cannot be left out, because to a large extent they set the temperature and climate of the economy. From security to education, infrastructure, health, housing, monetary policies, there are all relevant, and it’s our intention not to whitewash the reality of our painful pathway to development in all these areas, but we can’t focus only on the difficulties or deficiencies without identifying and celebrating what’s positive, no matter how incremental. The work of the Trade Minister and his team, representing our president, with the ease of doing business campaign and the progress made with investors being able to easier entry, the Lagos state initiatives around title registration, and some of the latest and exciting new cities and projects going on in Nigeria from Enugu to Kano, Abuja, Ogun State, Lagos, Port Harcourt are all areas to be showcased. Our aim is to provide accurate and current insight on the real estate sector and the economy as a whole. We want to help shape the narrative more accurately by sharing the positives as well as the areas of desired growth. No nation can survive if its nationals are not proud of their country. We have a responsibility to deliberately craft platforms that enable us to showcase the best stories of our nation, its people and its path to greatness. That’s why we are kicking off the Refined Investor Series with an Independence Celebration Dinner on Friday, October 6th. We want to celebrate our country, its people, both local and in diaspora and the initiatives, brands, and projects that are contributing to it positively.

Tell us more about this epoch event already scheduled for London where you intend to present the best of Nigerian real estate market to international investors. 

 

The Refined Investor Series (RIS) Event is a 2-day Series. An Exclusive Independence Celebration Dinner themed, I.L.E.A.D: “INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP, ENTREPRENEURSHIP ATTITUDES & DEVELOPMENT” will be hosted on October 6th Friday evening at the prestigious and historic Landmark Hotel, London. We will be celebrating Nigeria’s 57th independence, visionary leadership in projects and financial institutions shaping the Nigerian Real Estate sector while encouraging networking with private wealth clients and leaders in Diaspora. The full day Premium but Free Access Investor Series and exhibition will hold on Saturday, October 7th in the same location. The Exhibition and Seminar will feature an extensive exhibition from all our partners and stakeholders providing direct engagement with diaspora and international investors.

 

The Eko Atlantic City is one of the prime projects you intend to present to investors as Nigeria’s flagship project. How are you going to manage concerns about inclement weather conditions, environmental impact and all?

In actual sense, there is a real dearth of knowledge about the  Eko Atlantic project and its impact on the Environment.  At the start of the Eko Atlantic project, an Environmental Impact Assessment Report was commissioned and granted to Royal Haskoning, a leading EIA firm in consultation with the Federal Ministry of the Environment and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) as well as Lagos State Ministry of the Environment (LASMOE). The Eko Atlantic Shoreline and Reclamation Project seeks to provide approximately 1000 hectares of high-quality land for development within the heart of Lagos, and will indeed offer a long-term solution to the shoreline erosion problems at Victoria Island, Lagos but many people are unaware about the major positives. That’s why one of our objectives is to address the myths and misconceptions surrounding real estate in Nigeria. Fears around the Eko Atlantic are largely unfounded and relies on the assumption that all things Nigerian are fraught with a substandard approach. However, that premise is faulty and not supported by both local and international observers of this We have to remember that successive federal and state governments have been involved in certifying this project, including former Governors Tinubu, and Fashola, and now current Governor Ambode. It would take an incredible level of conspiracy to expect that every one of these leaders will turn a blind eye to something so significant. In addition, we have some of the most highly regarded diplomatic missions, and financial institutions already actively working on their new head offices and embassies at the Eko Atlantic. This simply wouldn’t be possible if they didn’t carry out the highest level of assessments themselves. The Refined Investor Series is a great opportunity for the developers of the Eko Atlantic who are being represented at the very highest level by Ronald Chagoury Jnr and his team to engage directly and address the misconceptions. I must say, this is unarguably Africa’s boldest and most visionary project.

 

Some people say that in spite of the situation in the market, there are still pockets of opportunities that investors can latch on and get good returns. Do you share this view? If yes, where?

I’ll restrict my comments to the opportunities for mid level to prime real estate in the residential and office market in a severely contracted market. Fine and Country’s main business is in the upper quartile, and we are very familiar with recessionary markets, considering our launch in 2008, the height of the market crash. We have, however,  always maintained that astute investors understand that every market not only has cycles but that within each cycle, real investors don’t look for last seasons opportunities. Astute investors engage a creative and intelligent process to unlock opportunities irrespective of the market cycle. 

With mid to prime residential, we believe that the top executives, mid level professionals and High Net worth Diaspora investors present a unique opportunity for residential developers. 25% of our clients in the last year has come from Nigerians based overseas. The main reason is the currency advantage that came as a result of the Naira devaluation. This is a largely untapped and confusing market for most Nigerian developers who tend to go after them sporadically without a well articulated and coordinated strategy for not just exposing their projects but creating the right narrative that resonates with their target market. Back home, the mid level entrepreneurial class (long standing business owners with some measure of liquidity and stability looking to downsize and relocate to more convenient locations) or to invest their capital in an inflation proof solid long term real estate, are a segment for developers who are willing to be creative recognising that their needs are unique. Good quality properties, in residential and office segment, is still not to be taken for granted. With quality, however, our view is that developers need to be mindful of balancing quality with ability and pricing, and with purchasing power significantly reduced, value pricing remains important while more efficient spaces and flexible terms have become important. The heady days of $1000 per square meter for prime offices have clearly taken a break, and prices are now at a more sustainable $500-650m2 for prime offices, with quarterly to bi-annual payments now becoming the standard. Although there are still long term leases being signed, those are few and far between, and typically pre-arranged.

Are there still opportunities for ultra luxury residential, the answer is yes if you have staying power, meaning long term funds, patient or legacy capital as I prefer to call it. The true luxury market will never really disappear, as luxury is a reward for extreme hard work and having attained a certain height in life. At this point, people don’t ask mundane questions. Perhaps, the thing to note is that most people who say the luxury market have disappeared, are really referring to the aspirational luxury market or the ‘white market’ of undisclosed source money who may be uncomfortable to invest in a more accountable economy. There’s a difference with real luxury level investors and it’s always been a tiny sliver of the market. In any case, real luxury developers who don’t have patient capital, shouldn’t be in the game. Invest in this segment only if you can afford to outride the market, while of course taking on board market feedback and ensuring you provide real luxury. The low to mid price point residential, office and retail segments remain the highest growth potential, but it’s a game of numbers and a race to slimmer margins that will benefit from higher efficiency in construction and customer service delivery. This market believe it or not is still anyone’s game and not yet dominated by any player. There’s an opportunity for an existing luxury developer to pivot in this direction with economies of scale and dominate specific locations. I could go on, but hopefully, you can see there are still opportunities. 

 

Let me take you back to the London event. The diaspora and international investors you are going to woo to Nigerian market are people used to mortgages as a means of buying property. But here’s is a country where mortgage is virtually non-existent. What argument are you going to present in this respect?

 

A: It’s true that the Nigerian mortgage infrastructure is weak compared to the highly structured mortgage frameworks in the UK, the US, and Europe, however, that in itself presents opportunities for Investors and Developers alike. Most developers offer flexible payment plans, and longer payment periods, which is an attraction for potential investors especially when tied to their cashflow. Indeed many projects in Nigeria have routinely been sold through creatively structured payment plans.

For buyers, even though these real estate investments may be capital intensive at first, there is the potential to save more than the total repayment sum of the mortgages which include the principal amount plus the interest especially in a high-interest environment. Investors also have the opportunity, to avoid the fees associated with mortgages by buying directly with developer flexible financing.

I think in working with the current weaknesses that surround the Mortgage Infrastructure, it is important not to overlook, the downsides, of the high-interest rates, and the overall increased cost influenced by interest rates. Despite these challenges, it’s interesting to note that there are banks who have become creative about Diaspora credit and this is an area that will be discussed extensively at the Refined Investor Series in London. We have one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, Access Bank Plc whose dynamic Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe is fully committed to engaging diaspora investors using Access Bank UK and its global footprint to tackle this effectively. Indeed the topic of Creative Diaspora Financing is at the fore front of our discussions at the upcoming event. 

 

For too long, the Nigerian mortgage system has remained a fledgling. Where do you think the operators are getting it wrong? What, in your opinion, needs to be done to get it right?

Ultimately, we agree that the best chance of Nigerian real estate playing a real role in economic growth is to have a viable and sustainable mortgage system and we can all agree that this currently doesn’t exit. We have to however, agree that this is not a mortgage operators deficiency, it’s a market deficiency. We don’t completely have the right enabling structures, although the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Corporation is an attempt towards stabilizing that sector. The real issues are more fundamental and go to our very economic, financial and legal regulatory framework. Transparency and enforcement of title remain a slow trudge. Double digit interest rate regimes nearing 25% due to the lack of liquidity, and long term funds, combined with uninspiring monetary regimes, are all factors. A lack of strong formal employee market means that it’s a challenge for mortgage providers to conduct an objective assessment of many applicants. The list goes on. This issue is one that requires a holistic review, otherwise, we may end up seeing  mortgage companies convert their businesses and become real estate development companies because at least they will not be subject to the stringent regulatory supervision, while they’ll be in a position to be more creative with buyers financing. 

 

Looking back to when you started this event (the Refined Investors Series), what impact do you think it has had on the Nigerian real estate market? What are the prospects in the years ahead?

 

Our key objective and mission through the Refined Investor Series has always been to ‘inspire confidence’ in the Nigerian Real Estate Market through providing a platform for good quality information, insight, and intelligence. As a company, we are on a quest to raise the standards in the real estate sector to international levels so that we become an attractive destination for our own citizens wherever they live, as well as international investors. We believe that limited transparency, access to current and accurate data, are major weaknesses of our economy and certainly the real estate market. Investors, whether local, diaspora or international go where they are confident. Confidence is inspired when people feel they have the right information and an understanding of the market. Our vision is to help investors invest more intelligently and confidently as a result of the Refined Investor Series.

 

The previous editions of Refined Investor Series held in Lagos has had in attendance over 1000 private investors over the past 5 years, with speakers and participation from notable personalities such as Mr. Atedo Peterside, Chairman of ANAP Foundation and formerly of Stanbic IBTC , Mr. Jim Ovia, Chairman of Zenith Bank and Quantum Capital, firms such as Elalan Construction, ANAP Business Jets Limited, British High Commission, Trustbond Mortgage Bank, YF construction, Lakepoint Properties, Urban Shelter Ltd, Famfa Oil Ltd, Total Nigeria Plc, Lagos Business School, Stanbic IBTC Bank, First Bank Private Bank, AM Facilities, Fidelity Bank, Palton Morgan Group, JLL, Energo Buildings , UPDC, LGV Gas.

Seeing top level investors, developers and stakeholders make decisions based on insight gained at the Refined Investor Series, is the proof of its impact.  Our ultimate objective is to shape the Nigerian Real Estate sector positively, so that we can unlock the real wealth that exists within it for many more investors, especially at the mid to prime markets. That’s our focus, and we intend to continue to scale this up using both technology as a way of reaching more investors with the relevant investment information. Next year just before the summer, the Refined Investor Series will debut in the US and Canada, with a Lagos and Abuja edition in February 2018 (The Economic and Real Estate Outlook Edition) in collaboration with our standing partners Business Day, and an ‘Astute Investor Seminar for High Network Clients in April, 2018.

We also have a gender focused Real Estate Series, the Finer Wealth Series, which helps to shape the way female investors tackle real estate and build financial security. This has been on for 3 years now and will formally launch the first female property investment club later this year. For now however, our 100% full on focus is on the London Series, as all roads lead to the Refined Investor Series, UK Diaspora and International edition at the Landmark Hotel, London on October 6th and 7th in a few weeks. 

 

CategoriesBlog Real Estate

GETTING MILLENNIALS ONTO THE PROPERTY LADDER. Secrets every Young Nigerian Should Know.

The Finer Wealth Series, a real estate investment and wealth initiative launched by Fine  and Country in 2015, aims to enlighten, encourage and equip more female investors get onto the property ladder individually and collectively to leverage the power of numbers.

The theme at this year’s edition which held on the 26th of May, 2017 at the Clear Essence California Spa and Wellness Resort was “BUILDING BLOCKS: Understanding the Fundamentals of Real Estate Investments”. It focused on engaging and enlightening younger female investors and their families with practical knowledge on investing in residential property.

We are pleased to feature below an account from one of the female guests, Joy Ehonwa a Lagos based writer and blogger.

REAL ESTATE SECRETS EVERY YOUNG NIGERIAN SHOULD KNOW.

I’m not wealthy yet, not by a long shot. Editors don’t earn much, and writers are paid even less, so when a client I have great respect for invited me to a real estate investment seminar last week, I wondered why.Perhaps she has seen into my future and I’m about to come into money! After all, investing in real estate is for rich, financially free people, isn’t it?

I gladly went, eager to learn something I could use in the not-so-near future.

It turns out I was wrong. Real estate isn’t just for the rich and established! Real estate is for me, a young woman in her 30s trying to build a career and raise a family. Real estate is for you, too. And we can start now.

The event, which held on Friday May 26th, was an introductory seminar, simply encouraging women to be bold enough to “consider a field” as the Proverbs 31 woman did, even if you’re not ready to buy the field just yet.

As I listened to seasoned professionals – Abigail Aneke, former United Bank for Africa (UBA) ED, Subu Giwa-Amu, MD/CEO FBN Mortgage, and the host Udo Okonjo, CEO of Fine & Country – share their real estate investment stories, my mentality underwent a major overhaul. MAJOR.

I cannot possibly share every single thing I learnt at this edition of Fine & Country International’s Finer Wealth Series – it would take 5 articles to do that – but here are just a few priceless nuggets:

1. The Starting Point For Anyone Who Wants To Invest In Real Estate Is Considering It And You Don’t Need Money In Your Pocket To Do That.

Being bold enough to consider it is the foundation.

2. It Is Possible To Invest In Real Estate Without Money.

Udo Okonjo told the story of how a book titled Nothing Down taught her this and changed her outlook, leading her to earn $100,000 on a single investment 18 years ago, without her putting any money down.

3. If You Would Like To Finance Your First Investment, You Can Start Saving For It Right Away.

This meant the most to me as a young person who has never invested in real estate before. Treasury bills were recommended (look this up if you’re not already familiar with it) amongst other low risk investments that can help you multiply your money. I already knew that saving towards a goal makes it easier and more enjoyable, but whereas I thought real estate investment too lofty a goal for me, I no longer think so.

4. Instead Of Thinking Affordability, Think Collaboration.

You don’t have to invest in real estate alone, or even save up for the investment all by yourself. People come together to acquire property all the time! Even if you don’t have any money now, check out this scenario: you and 9 other women save 100k every month. In a year, your group would be able to afford property worth 12 million that none of you can afford individually. And you already know that even if all you do is buy land and sit on it for a few years, it will appreciate and you’ll all be richer for it when you offload and share profits!  This is what Finer Wealth Circles are about.

5. The First Step To Making Money In Real Estate Is Research.

Know your location and ask lots and lots of questions.

6. An Unsuccessful First Venture Need Not Mean Failure.

Udo Okonjo, who is an incredibly successful real estate investor, shared the story of her first investment which was a disaster. According to her, such a thing can only be termed failure when you don’t get up, unpack it, and learn from it. Understand that you will make mistakes, even when you become astute. Learn to forgive yourself.

7. When Buying Real Estate, Control Is Key.

This was the main lesson Udo Okonjo learnt from that first disaster. Invest around where you are, and make sure due de-risking has been done. If you don’t know how, invest through schemes that have done the groundwork of securing the title and dealing with the baales and other such issues that can derail you.

8. When Investing In Property, The Title Is Everything.

This is why Fine & Country settles this first, before proceeding to anything else.

9. When Starting Out In Real Estate, Start Simple.

For instance, it’s always a good idea to house people. People are crying out for affordable accommodation.

10. Know That Real Estate Is A Long-Term Play.

It’s not liquid, and it takes time to extract liquidity from it, so don’t come at it with a “make it quick” attitude.

11. Even If You Can’t Do Anything Else For Starters, Buy Some Land.

Land is a great option because you can’t go wrong once you’ve secured it. Unlike developed property which you need to maintain, land increases in value on its own as time passes. You can even decide to lease it to a farmer, or rent it to a telecommunications company. Udo Okonjo quoted Mark Twain: “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”

I came away from the seminar feeling wealthier than I ever have, even though my account balance was exactly the same.

I may not be able to buy land right now, but I’m no longer ignoring real estate broadcast messages and ads.

The possibilities are endless if you simply open your mind to the fact that you, too, can invest in real estate. Once that can happen in your mind, it can happen in your life.

I missed the 2016 edition of the Finer Wealth Series last year (Mrs. Ibukun Awosika Chairman of First Bank shared her real estate investment stories, please cry with me) but I certainly don’t want to miss next year’s.

Neither should you.

CategoriesBlog Real Estate Uncategorized

Investors should recognize that there is always a cost to leaving buildings empty

For reasons ranging from unaffordability to over-supply and unmotivated sellers, many residential buildings, especially at the high end property market,  are vacant. UDO OKONJO, Vice Chair/CEO, Fine and Country West Africa, in this interview with CHUKA UROKO, Property Editor,  highlights the implications of this to both the buildings and the investors. She also speaks on emerging opportunities in the real estate market. Excerpts:
 
We are well into the second quarter of the year. Looking back to the end of last year to now, tell us about the state of the real estate market?
In the upper tier of the residential market which is our point of operation including Ikoyi, Victoria Island, the Oniru axis and, to an extent, Lekki, if you segment those areas, you see that in Ikoyi, for instance, 40-50 percent of the high rise buildings appear to be vacant. There is a very high vacancy rate in this area.
Some of the buildings that appear to be 100 percent empty are generally old buildings which appear to be completely abandoned. The question to ask here is who owns those buildings and why are they abandoned? I think that some of those buildings have the challenges of the tension between the federal government title and the Lagos State regularization.
We have, therefore, to recognize that lack of enabling environment is playing a key role in business people’s inability to create opportunities for people to own homes. In spite of the state of the market, especially at the high end, people still need quality properties that are well priced.
I continue to maintain that there is still market for good location, good quality and good pricing for properties. Old or new, if a property is over-priced because the owner is not interested in what the market is saying in terms of pricing, maybe because he is using it as a means of storing wealth, then for us at Fine and Country, that is not our market.
This is why we advise before we sell. Our strategy is to offer advisory service from the first stage. We prefer to start to give advice first because that enables us to determine the objective of our client. If the client is one that is not interested in what the market demands and requires, then such a client is not for us. We call clients like that unmotivated sellers and we advise buyers to avoid such sellers. These are also part of the reasons you see a lot of empty buildings in that segment of the market.
Investors should recognize that there is always cost to leaving buildings empty. Such cost comes in terms of maintenance, depreciation, decay, etc. It is always good to have people in a building.  Any serious investor recognizes that markets come in cycles and so make all the adjustments they want to make and when they do,  they bid their time and wait for the cycle to return.
For us, what is fundamental is how you acquire a property and why you are acquiring it because that will determine what you are going to do when things go wrong. If you are in for a long term which is what real estate investment is all about, the fact that there is a downturn should not make anybody feel that the world is about to end.
Given the state of the economy, do you still see people who are looking for houses at the high end market?
There are still clients looking for properties but the properties here are over-priced, but those that are adjusting to the market are getting results while those that are not remain where they are and this is happening in both rental and sales market.
We are now highly involved in creating market opportunities. These are real estate solutions and developments that speak directly to the market. This gives investors clear view and understanding of the kind of properties people want to buy and where they want them to be. It is no longer time for lavishness or supper luxury. At any point—whether it is upturn or downturn, the super luxury segment of the market is always a thin one because you don’t have many people playing there as buyers or sellers.
It is a tiny specialized market that is not for everybody. Our advice in the residential segment of the market remain the same: create products that people want; don’t over price the product; find a creative way of delivering convenience and luxury without breaking the bank because if you break the bank, you won’t get a return because people are not in a position to pay. Good quality remains a willing proposition any day but you need to find a way of delivering that quality at a sensible price. This is not rocket science but unfortunately a lot people don’t want to acquire it.
Even when the market was very dull last year, the low-middle market still upbeat with reasonable demand. What has changed in this segment of the market?
There are still first time buyers here including professionals, young families, returning professionals etc. Some of them are not necessarily first home buyers, but people who are investing in order to get rental income in what could  be called buy-to-let investment. In many countries, a lot of professionals create wealth through buying real estate which they rent out to tenants. But the buy-to-let market in this country is not going to flourish because we don’t have a viable and proper mortgage system that can offer single digit interest rate. At double digit interest rate, taking a mortgage does not make sense.
The winning proposition is for the developer to work with younger buyers and their cash flow. He has to structure his development to match that cash flow. This proposition is already catching on because there are a few developers that are already doing it. It is very competitive but there are opportunities there. Efficiency is key. The developer has to be mindful of how seeks building materials, how he develops and sources capital. The development has to be standard, otherwise there will problems.
Businesses have not fared well in the last 12-18 months because recession which has reduced uptake in retail and office space. Looking at the commercial market generally, what is the story?
Grade A office space is still a very small market. Most of the people who play in that space are institutional investors and ultra-high net-worth investors. These people generally have long term horizon because they are astute investors and so they know that the market is in a cycle which will not last for ever. Most of these investors are ready to adjust because they are astute. They recognize that the market is what it is and so they become more flexible and that is what they should be if they want their property to be let. They give out concessions and vary their terms of payment.
Some are, however, still constrained by virtue of their vision even though they try to be flexible. Their vision is not always their financial. They are always bent on attracting the sort of tenants that will add value to their property. So, the adjustment they make is only for the right kind of clients but for other people they will remain rigid.  There is however some sense in all of this because real investors don’t just adjust their vision because the market is down.
Where we see great opportunities emerging is the B-Grade and even below office space. If this Grade is within the range of $60 to $65 per square metre and above, there is still market for below $500 per square metres and this market is largely untapped and is now being filled by informal offices. But developers that build good quality, well finished and well priced, say within $250  to $300 per square metres, will find ready market.
There is a new wave in office space development that encourages small units of office space. What is driving that development and what opportunities are there for investors?
I think there is quite a number of emerging and interesting opportunities that are being driven by younger, more innovative investors and professionals who are riding on the wave of digital technology. Lots of companies don’t need as much space as they used to have. People are now renting smaller work spaces and converting their spaces into smaller units so that emerging entrepreneurs can come and take up those units. There is also big opportunity in that space created by informal investors. If there is a way investors can formalize and scale up that, there is an opportunity there.
Lekki, for instance, is becoming one big retail hub because people are renting houses and converting them into shops. There is a bit of a challenge here because this is a bit untidy and informal. I foresee Lekki becoming a bit like Victoria Island and most of the people living there now will, in future, start looking for residential enclaves or havens where there is sanity, order, orgainsed systems such as power, security, etc. These havens will never be  like government areas such as Lekki where anything goes.
The emerging residential havens like Orange Island, Imperial City, Gracefield Island, Mayegun Beach Resort etc, will begin to do better because people will come to Lekki to do business but will retire to those communities where life is organised. 
We at Fine and Country are very bold and bullish about promoting those enclaves because they are the future of residential development where you have virtually everything including schools, lifestyle, hospitals, retail shops, worship and recreational places, etc.
 
Since many people, especially young families and professionals, are no longer looking for large-size houses, where exactly do opportunities exist the most for investors?
We feel that opportunity now exist in smaller residential units because the young professionals we are talking about are no longer looking for 4 or 5-bedroom apartments because they can’t afford them nor do they even need them. What they need is one-bed and two-bedroom for those that are planning of getting married. These days, room-sizes are getting smaller because of the cost of materials such that where we used to get three-bedroom of 250 square metres, we now have between 250 and 300 square metres. It all now depends on design which makes such rooms efficient and functional.
There is now a good number of developments going on in places like Lekki where you get studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments targeted at young professionals and families. There was a project we did of recent that comprised just studios and one-bedroom and they sold out. Similar developments are now coming up in Victoria Island and Oniru axis.
We think there are opportunities for similar developments in Ikoyi which is a highbrow area. Families are downsizing and there are young families looking up to their parents to help them to buy properties in good locations such as Ikoyi where they have grown up. Currently however, these smaller units are being built in the outskirta of town but there is an opportunity for them in the city centre and also in the highbrow areas.
CategoriesBlog Real Estate Uncategorized

Taking Nigeria to the World debuts in Fine & Country’s Refined Magazine

The Refined Magazine is out!

The Fine and Country West Africa signature real estate magazine now available for download, features exciting real estate intelligence with a recap of key events in the past months. This Refined edition is focused on ‘’Taking Nigeria to the World’’ by spotlighting the megacity Lagos. Lagos will be 50 in May and we are convinced the Lagos Success Story must be taken beyond the shores of Nigeria.

Having earned its place as one of the most important cities in Africa, Lagos mirrors the challenges and the growth dynamics of African cities from a comparatively positive standpoint. The dynamics and challenges range from managing mega slums alongside mega city, Lagos being the first choice destination for the Fortune 500, Lagos holding its place as one of the 100 Most Resilient Cities in the world and of course, the future of Lagos were all painstaking analysed in the Refined Magazine editorial.

We at Fine and Country are happy to be a part of the Lagos Success Story hence, the Refined Investors Series holding in May, in the United Kingdom, is targeted at bringing Nigerians in the diaspora to come invest in Nigerian real estate in general, and Lagos real estate in particular. The need to invest now is critical going by the prevailing matrices and their interpretations as intelligent real estate indices. These indices are reflected in the choice of properties listed in the Refined Magazine.

Prominent amongst the featured properties is the Oakwood Residences on Cooper Road Ikoyi. These luxury residences comprise contemporary three bedroom and 5 bedroom apartments with a panoramic view of the lush Ikoyi skylines. The build quality and finish are the top of pack and the price point is relatively going 20% lower than market value. The window of opportunity of buying at the current price closes within a couple of days.

Call Ifueko on 08096000024 to buy an apartment!

Download a copy of the Refined Magazine here.

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