Why are you in real estate?
We didn’t venture into The Address Homes to make money, even though every business is set out to make money. The real intention, for me, is to allow us to do something different from the way previous participants and players in real estate have done.
We believe there is a need to inject some integrity into the real estate business. We also believe atimes that quality was a bit deficient and there is a need to do things mostly to some level of international standards, irrespective of where you are. We wanted to come into the industry and put up structures that we can call homes, not houses. These are homes that will compete with the best that you can see outside of the country, and yet without making you break the bank in terms of being able to pay or affordability. We see people trying to relocate from abroad – Canada, the United States of America (US) and Europe. There is a minimum standard of living they have been used to. They like to enter a home and there are basic things they look to see, the environment they also like to see. We found that these are missing to some extent. We wanted a situation in which you live in the Address Homes and you are proud because of the little offer. That is what we believe in.
Have you done these things you are talking about?
We have done our best but we still believe that we will keep improving. I would share the story of a particular person, a client who relocated his family from abroad and bought a plot of land in Banana Island where he wanted to build. But while that was being processed, he went into one of our estates and he liked what he saw. The project was under construction and decided to buy one. While staying there to build his personal house, he moved his family there. The estate is our flagship – first project around Femi Okunnu area, which has a swimming pool, gym, security, recreation area with basketball, and his children fell in love with these. There are so many films now that are shot in some of our estates. So they fell in love with the estate and all attempts to relocate them to Banana Island failed. You know what; we still make the prices of our homes affordable.
How much did he pay?
I can tell you that we are more competitive in terms of price, but more importantly, we are very flexible. We allow people to dictate to us within the particular timeframe how they want to structure their payment during construction. Often time people asked us about the payment plan. When they discussed this and I would say what is important is for you to spread the payment through the construction project. Let us know what is convenient for you and tailor it toward that because your cash flow is different from mine, and we would work it out. We have had a situation where we completed the project and people have difficulty in making the final payment. They made a special request to us to allow them to move into the property without completing the payment. Of course, we don’t give them the title.
How do you hedge your risk where the buyer is yet to pay fully before moving into the house?
We do that by not allowing you to have the title document for the property. All these have endeared us to a few people who have had the opportunity to interact and enjoy the services we offer. So when I see those things, it makes me feel proud and that is what I set out to achieve. In doing that, we also succeeded in contributing to bridging the gap of housing deficit. Right now, we play in the middle market segment – middle-income people. Right now, we have both ongoing and completed over 250 units of houses, and still counting. I have mentioned why we are different. We don’t make noise and we don’t tell you must break the bank to access our services. In every single estate that we have built, we don’t just hand over the keys to you, we follow you with the addition of our facility management to make living in those estates very convenient and conducive. We also provided some guarantees of a minimum of five to 10 years on the structure so that if anything happens to the windows and doors, we take responsibility. We provide you with 24 hours electricity, CCTV, security, water and others.
Can we know some of the completed and ongoing projects?
You will see some of our flagship projects but two of our projects that are under construction now are the Luxuria on Alexandra Road in Ikoyi and Dan and Dan apartment on Banana Island.
Luxuria is a development made up of 58 units in total, out of which close to 50 are typical maisonettes. When I say maisonettes, there is a reason why we do things differently. First and foremost, we found out that people live in flats. Developers built flats but we also found out that when you live in flats, some elements of privacy are denied – you come out of your bedroom, enter your sitting room. People who lived abroad are used to multi-level structures. We chose to do things differently. I was having a discussion with an architect and he said what he has observed in this environment is that people would build blocks of flats and then put them on top of the flats penthouses. And I said it is those penthouses, which are very few in number, that are sold first. People are ready to pay any amount of money for the services. Why can’t we do a project where every single apartment looks like a penthouse. If you go to Luxuria, you will see the massive space that we have of two levels. It comes with two kitchens, which means that madam has a reserved house while allowing the chef to use the other area; two living rooms, a bar area, a swimming pool, etc.
How do you ensure standard housing construction in your estate?
We have a work plan. We also make sure that the plan does not emphasise more on the speed of finishing. It is a process; a quality assurance process is also involved and there are consultants (local and foreign) involved. We must sign on for every stage of the project and we would choose not to truncate any part of that. We are currently on the fourth floors in Luxuria. The approval that we have is for 14 floors and we are slow-steady but delivering a good quality job. We also have what we called Dan and Dan Apartments on Banana Island. We have one in Ikoyi Crescent, which is a joint venture with Wemabod Estate. It will be completed by the end of this year. We have other projects in the pipeline. There is a development in Ikeja GRA, which is yet to commence. We also have others in Ikoyi. That will be contributing about 101 housing units to South West, Ikoyi.
In terms of strategic direction, we have had comments that only the rich and the affluent can have access to our houses. We do have plans to move down a little bit to a slightly lower segment. In somewhere around Ajah, we have about 75 hectares of land to develop flats and terraces houses in order to allow people that cannot afford N50 million and N70 million to have access to their homes. The beauty of being a partner with Address Homes is that no matter where you find our estate, the quality of finishing is always the same, while the location is different.