Nigeria’s luxury real estate market has taken a beating lately due to several fundamentals, which include stricter government regulations and economic factors. Developers’ over-exuberance and government crackdowns to check money laundering in the real estate sector combined to end the selling frenzy and leave developers, lenders and property investors battling to absorb the fallout. This backlash necessitated high vacancy rates and drop in values to over 60 per cent. Recent investigations by The Guardian In the past four years, the high-end market have fallen on an annual basis and peaked last year. This year, there has not been any sign that changes will come in the sector, according to real estate experts. The shift in the luxury market has been more pronounced, in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt markets. Demand for high-end homes is waning in large part due to changes in the government’s tax policies and fears of security agencies’ harassment, among other issues. The demand by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for estate surveyors and valuers to disclose large transactions has scared away investors. “This has created a situation where even those who have genuine funds are unwilling to invest in real estate for the simple reason that they do not want the commission snooping into their activities,” according to a report by Ubosi Eleh and Company. According to the report, the development of real estate for sale or lease has slowed down tremendously. While developers’ expectation they could sell thousands of homes as investments to the wealthy has been dashed due to less return on investments. In fact, the number of new estates by developers has dropped to more or less a trickle because there is a huge stock of unsold inventory of houses from previous development. Developers indicate that whereas sales were undertaken at the rate of five units monthly about four-five years ago, now it is more like one unit per quarter. Experts believe that stricter government regulations, changes in exchange rates can also dissuade foreign buyers in the high-end real estate markets, as diaspora investors account for a substantial percentage of transactions. The Managing Director, Alpha Mead Partners, Erejuwa Gbadebo said: “There is a glut and most are priced beyond the pocket of the consumers.” She listed the challenges hampering the growth of the luxury as too many regulatory charges; over-specification leading to overpriced building materials being used; poor state of the economy; no proper analysis of the market requirements leading to the wrong properties being developed for the current market; and difficulty in the ease of doing business leading to the downsizing of the firm’s that would ordinarily take up such properties as well as overpriced land. For the Chairman, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Gbenga Ismail, “demand for luxury property has fallen because it no longer has investment value. However, only those who want to purchase as occupiers continue to be the only effective demand. Values have dropped by at least 50 to 60 per cent.“You will, however, find a contradiction in the Banana Island submarket. Land prices have risen by 50per cent in 24 months because of the effective primary occupiers who have chosen this submarket as a preferred address.”But the Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Faculty of Estate Agency and Marketing, Sam Eboigbe is quite positive on the recovery of the market. He added that “some locations have tremendously been subjected to a high volume of activities resulting in an upward movement of property values. The growing rate of insecurity and banditry contributed to the increase of activities in these areas offering amenities and comfortable lifestyles.”Certain locations have tremendously been subjected to a high volume of activities resulting in an upward movement of property values. Apapa GRA has witnessed a massive decline in property values.” revealed that luxury home sales-or sale of homes priced above N150 million are worst hit and had continued in its downward slide. The sales response has been slow to non-existent. – GUARDIAN.NG

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