Battered by current economic recession, vacant property has increased tremendously in Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island neighbourhoods of Lagos and Abuja, New Telegraph has learnt. According to survey conducted by Bismark Rewane-led Financial Derivatives Company, while existing vacant houses, especially in prime locations such as Bourdillion road, Gerard, Victoria Island extension and Lekki road – all in Lagos don’t have buyers, new ones that are being added have remained vacant, giving investors some concerns.
However, it was gathered that some of the owners are now opting for rent or lease in order to keep the apartment busy. Financial Derivatives Company said the vacancy rate was increasing because of corporate mortality, financial squeeze, increasing building material costs and high interest rates, which are hurting developers.
Rewane described current rate of vacant property as the “highest level in a decade”, adding that hotel occupancy rates were down to 35 per cent from 65 per cent in 2015. He noted that housing has started low across neighborhoods in Lagos, adding that there were sporadic new office developments in select areas. Some owners of vacant properties in high-end locations in Lagos are now opting for letting/lease.
Many of the empty houses in Ikoyi and Lekki axes now have estate agents’ tags on them, beckoning would-be tenants to contact them through attached addresses and phone numbers on the billboards. To let/for lease ratio in these exclusive quarters is expected to increase, as macroeconomic headwinds continue to shrink cash flow.
Worried by high rate of homelessness among Nigerians despite a lot of vacant houses in major urban cities, experts in the sector said that only five per cent of existing housing stock in the country qualified as affordable. Speaking at a real estate forum in Lagos, the housing experts stated that high cost of housing units has deprived low-income earners the opportunity to have a roof on their heads, hence the huge housing deficit of 17 million units in the country.
Worried by inadequacy of houses for the poor, Lead Partner, Detail Commercial Solicitors, Mr. Ayuli Jemide, blamed the nation’s housing deficit on obnoxious land tenure system, stifling mortgage and outdated land titling and registration system.
He also blamed the situation on high interest rates, lack of foreclosure laws, absence of centralised credit history and low pool of affordable low to mid-income housing. The itemised challenges he lamented, have limited production of mass and affordable housing, while calling on both the Federal and State governments to do something urgent to reposition their sector and economy.