When the first case of the coronavirus pandemic was discovered in Nigeria, there was apprehension about what havoc the virus could wreak on the country’s fragile economy.
Information about the virus was sparse then and it was not known if Nigeria’s healthcare system could contain it just as it did Ebola in 2014.
More than a year after, Nigeria is still reeling from the covid-19 shock with every sector of the economy touched. And for the real estate industry, the effects remain huge.
"The pandemic is one of the most significant events in Nigeria’s real estate sector in the last decade,” said Olaposi Lawore, the managing director of Dynasty Real Estate.
Rethinking and retooling processes
Lawore sits atop DRE, a member of Nigerian proprietary investment firm, VFD Group. Founded in 2014, DRE is proving to be one of Nigeria’s leading real estate companies.
With the industry slowly emerging from the pandemic-induced recession, , Lawore and his team are “rethinking” and “retooling” their construction processes and material sourcing. This is very important considering that ports’ operations are yet to return to ‘normal’ and so the importation of construction materials has become a very costly and herculean process.
“For us, one of the key things that came to mind was the fact that we needed to rethink our construction processes and material sourcing,” Lawore said. “We generally need to start looking at alternative ways of construction.”
For instance, DRE looked to sourcing its material locally except the ones for which local alternatives are not viable, focusing on the design of its buildings to heightened their efficiency and functionality, thereby reducing the cost of construction, and partnering with a mortgage bank to help uptakers with affordable payment plans.
“I know that there may be a gap when it comes to some of the materials that we use in construction in Nigeria in terms of production, but I think from a large perspective, the quality is improving,” Olasore said.
Technology is also providing leeway for some construction companies to stay afloat. Northcourt’s 2021 Nigeria Real Estate Market Outlook projects that the pandemic will further grow the adoption of technology in real estate development in Nigeria.
Tech tools such as Building Information Modelling and 3D printing are fuelling new ways of thinking, and for Lawore, these technologies are helping companies to manage construction and designing processes and strengthening efficiency and cost management.
Can the 2021 budget spur industry growth?
The Nigerian government recently listed some assets to concession to raise funds for the 2021 spending plan. Some of these assets include the government’s property such as the International Conference Centre, Abuja, the Tafawa Balewa Square and International Trade Fair Complex in Lagos. The government is also looking to sell Mineral House in Lagos.
Beyond these, there are several abandoned government properties in major urban cities like Lagos and Abuja that could be repurposed to bridge the yawning housing deficit in the country. And despite the knock the industry has received from the pandemic, Lawore insists it is primed to snap up abandoned assets and make them useful.
Taking such assets from the hands of the government will also save time and cost as developers may not need to start construction of buildings from the ground up.
“It is not every development that has to start from scratch; we can acquire these assets and repurpose them and put them back into the market,” says the First Class honours graduate of Architecture from the University of Lagos, Nigeria.
“In some instances, what we have done is to take advantage of the network we have within the governmental space in acquiring some of these abandoned properties. We recently acquired one or two of such abandoned properties that we are currently working on repurposing. We are putting them back into the market.”
The company he leads, he said, has grown in six years, consistently delivering projects using innovation and riding on the strength of its team. ‘The feedback has been positive,’ he boasted.
“There is a consistency in the quality project that we have been delivering over time. We have gotten positive feedback…we have gotten positive feedback when it comes to the quality of homes that we have delivered and supplied into the market, he went further”
“So, it is not a situation of we deliver a particular development and then people are complaining about it. We have been able to attain a certain level of consistency which, if you check records, a lot of developers tend to struggle with that. They do a good project today, tomorrow not so good job. But we have been able to attain that level consistently.”
Dynasty Real Estate (DRE) has developed, constructed and sold residences in Abuja and Lagos for the last six years and continues to execute more adventurous projects in these cities.