By Chinenye Anuforo, Lagos
Stakeholders in the property market have identified technology as critical to redefining the sector.
The stakeholders who spoke at the 7th edition of the West Africa Property Investment Summit (WAPI) tagged Property Markets Redefined pointed out that technological innovations make the delivery of construction services more efficient.
Specifically, Purple Group CEO, Laide Agboola said: ‘The market itself is evolving and things are changing. From our perspective, we see the future in technology, in fact, it is clear to us that it is going to be all about brick, motor, and cloud going into the future. But then brick and mortar are still important for everything that would take place but then we are hinging Purple in our own direction which is technology. We are obviously delivering the very needed mixed-used development and that we see the market taking shape. When we say mixed-used encompasses all the elements but then there are other opportunities within the market space, especially in the industrial space but definitely, there is work to be done.’
On his own part, Datum CEO Tope Runsewe also identified technology as critical to the sector. He said technology can be used to do some mappings, deploy drones to the sites among others.
‘But, most importantly, with the models being developed currently, technology makes it more efficient in the delivery of our construction services,’ Runsewe pointed out.
Speaking on the largest opportunity in the real estate market, Purple CEO said. “What we find as the most critical that would be the largest play is technology; Proptech and for us, that is where we are sitting on currently. For us it is not just about brick and mortar, it’s about solving the housing deficit and ensuring every Nigerian or African has a housing property in their portfolio no matter how small. However, it is a fact that technology is going to play a huge role in the future of real estate.’
On her part, Seun Eyitayo said that ‘at Landway, I don’t think we are redefining per se, we are more like responding to the perceived needs of the people. Shelter is something that is a constant need, as long as there is a population increase, there is always going to be a need for homes and real estate, so what we are doing is being innovative and becoming available products that we have seen that the housing needs of people are changing people are moving from mighty houses to smaller homes, we are responding to that and making products available.’
Eyitayo stated that Landwey’s largest opportunity is with the ‘millennials who are looking to purchase something compact, which I think is where the largest opportunities are, however, there are still people who are going to buy bigger homes but the bigger opportunities are with millennials and people who are just entering the market and take away the risk for them and help them to ease that process is what we are in to.’
She added that the biggest challenge of being in the real estate sector is with the construction workers and workforce in Nigeria.
‘The best way to solve these problems is for the government to create more policies and enforce laws. Construction workers need to play their part in making sure work is carried out easily and smoothly,’ she said.
Speaking on future opportunities, Runsewe said ‘the future is a combination of a number of things. First of all, is the understanding of where the majority would be needing houses and then their taste and in brick and mortar, I feel that developments that are able to combine the ability of the younger generation to live, work, plan and be enabled through technology are where the future lies. We would be seeing a number of developments coming up and we would also see technology playing a huge role in how those developments are used.’
Laide Agboola highlighted the challenges the real estate industry is facing which are ‘policy regulations and implementations, construction risks, urban planning, funding and human capacity problem.’ He also stated that the Chinese should not be solely responsible for building roads in Nigeria. According to him: ‘We are currently in a difficult situation. There is so much we need to do across the value chain to contribute our input to the system.’
In agreement, Runsewe stated: ‘Our locals need to participate in construction. Policies have to be put in place for foreign construction companies to engage the local construction companies where they are building. If we continue like this, in the next 50 years we will have them building everything in Nigeria.’
According to Femi Akintunde, Group CEO, Alpha Mead Group, the real estate sector is faced with so many challenges that must be solved with collective efforts. He stated that the real estate space cannot be redefined if demand and supply are not on the same level. He further hinged on the need for people to have houses before retirement including pensioners. He added that the government needs to cooperate with real estate developers so that housing will be better and accessible for civil servants. He stressed that civil servants do not need to wait to get their pension before they get their one home.
The WAPI Summit is the only regional real estate gathering that connects international money to local opportunities and players.