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Experts propose three-month processing time for NHF loan

NHF loan – As the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) ravages the world with its impact on economy and wellbeing of individual households, experts in real estate are seeing declining liquidity and prioritisation of consumption as major factors that may affect activities in the industry.

They also proposed a three month processing time for the National Housing Fund (NHF loan) to ease the delay in providing mortgage loans to subscribers.

They believe that this period presents a huge challenge to both consumers and investors in real estate, and therefore offer another opportunity for property developers, estate agents to think outside the box and come up with strategies, which should not be targeted at sustaining available consumers but value to make investors look towards the sector.

The experts who spoke during a panel discussion at the Mixta Africa’s Webinar series held recently, with the theme “Making Informed Investment Decisions in the Covid-19 Era: A real Estate Perspective”, said governments early response with policies and palliatives will enable the economy go through the cycle and recover quickly.

Panelists at the forum include Mr. Kola Ashiru-Balogun, Managing Director, Mixta Africa Plc; Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, Managing/CEO, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria; Mrs. Ude Okonjo, Chief Executive Officer, Fine and Country West Africa; Dr. Temitayo Oshikoya, Managing Principal, Nextnomics Advisory; Mr. Chinua Azubuike, Managing Director, CBRE Excellerate and Mrs Chukwunonso Onny-Ezeh, Chief Executive Officer, Asset-2-Sell Properties Limited.

Ashiru-Balgun, who was the moderator of the forum provided background on how Covid-19 is impacting the economy, including growing risk of sentiments globally, weak economic outlook, lower crude oil prices, which Nigeria is currently experiencing, and concerns of further currency devaluation. 

He noted that these have resulted in a slowdown in investment (both government and private) hinging it on anticipated strain on federal government receipts and consumer income.

Oshikoya stated that the situation provides opportunities in the residential property area, particularly for investors who want to take advantage of long-term opportunities.

According to him, pension funds and equity investors will find a great future in residential real estate as affordable housing will continue to be in high demand post Covid-19.

Looking at the opportunities in both residential and commercial properties, Oshikoya said while demand for real estate at the moment might reduce as households and individual are concerned on meeting basic needs, healthcare, job security while companies will be concerned with savings cost, limiting office space, and exploiting other ways of doing their job, may be from home.

Dangiwa, who spoke on efforts of government to increase access to affordable housing in the post COVID-19 era, said efforts are on to ensure inclusion of the informal sector in affordable housing schemes using FMBN’s Bank Verification Number (BVN).

According to him, efforts are also on to open up diaspora mortgage market, stating that documentation for this was being worked on and will be presented to the minister for further development. NHF loan 3 months processing time will also be fast-tracked.

Azubuike, spoke on how critical it is for the government to restart the economy with policy response as key in going through the COVID-19 cycle and launching to recovery. “We will see supply outstrip demand, and in the short and medium term, this will impact consumers,” he said.

Mrs. Okonjo who was upbeat on opportunities during and post Covid-19 said players should think outside the box, expand the market, and bring in Diaspora opportunistic investors increase liquidity in the sector.

She said players in the industry must digitalize their product offerings to provide convenience, varieties and consumer engagement in the new world.

Okonjo noted that there will be price adjustment to reflect the psychological and financial impact of the situation on investors and consumers, but the opportunities are there as there will always be long term investors. So, our responsibility is to create value that will be above inflation in the nearest future.

The panelist also discussed strategies on incentives, price cuts, rebates, tax holidays to assist investors, stakeholders, private and corporate buyers in the short-run.

Ashiru- Balogun concluded by saying ‘At Mixta, we believe that housing is the bedrock of the economy, it presents an opportunity for individuals to build their own balance sheet. The more people we can get on the property ladder, the better it is for the economy.

Credit: Guardian

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