The FSDH Research has said that a real estate funds are investment vehicles that can be used to address Nigeria’s housing shortage and encourage economic activities in the real estate sector.
FSDH Merchant Bank stated this in its report on ‘Real estate fund — Investment vehicle to address housing shortage in Nigeria.’ It observed that there was a significant shortage of affordable housing in Nigeria.
The housing gap is estimated to stand between 17 and 20 million units, it stated.
“This means that Nigeria needs to build between 17 and 20 million housing units to ensure that Nigerians have this basic human need,” it added.
The report said, in monetary terms, Nigeria might require between N170tn to N200tn to bridge the housing gap if each unit costs N10m.
It stated, “Given the rising population in the country, the housing shortage keeps increasing. Meanwhile, the developments in the real estate sector of the Nigerian economy, which is where activities that will close the housing shortage will take place, have not been impressive.”
Economic activity in the real estate sector had been consistently contracting since Q1 2016, it said.
In addition, it added, investors (both retail and high net worth) could create wealth in real estate through regularly investing in a Real Estate Fund without investing directly in the brick and mortar.
“REF is an investment vehicle that pools resource together to invest in real estate, therefore, allowing individual investors to partake in the benefits of the underlying properties,” it added.
In Nigeria, the report said, REFs were traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, just like stocks/shares.
They could, therefore, be purchased through stockbrokers, just like other stocks/shares.
According to the report, every REF must have a fund manager that manages the fund to ensure the best return to shareholders.
It stated, “REFs are real estate working for the investors. The holder of a REF will earn a share of the income from the real estate investment through dividends without actually having to buy, manage or finance any housing projects.
“REFs are required to distribute at least 90 per cent of their taxable income as dividend. As a result, it provides constant income for shareholders.”
The report said there was no minimum amount to invest in a REF, adding that it was suitable for all investors.
REFs have not gained much popularity in Nigeria in terms of the numbers available and their size relative to the size of the Nigerian economy.
The report said there were currently only three REFs listed on the NSE which are Skye Shelter Fund, Union Homes Real Estate Investment Trust and UPDC Real Estate Investment Trust.
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the total value of the assets of all three funds stood at N43.74bn as of 18 January 2019; this represents about 0.03 per cent of Nigeria’s total Gross Domestic Product, it added.
The FSDH Research noted that the assets had recorded weak growth over the last five years, perhaps due to the slow activity in the real estate sector in general.
The inadequate information on how REFs worked and how investors could take advantage of the investment opportunities in them might also explain why REFs were not growing as they should, the FSDH said.
It stated, “FSDH Research believes REFs can be used as one of the measures to boost activity in the real estate sector. As patronage for REFs in Nigeria increases, more funds would be available to buy and develop more real estate properties. Consequently, the real estate sector would begin to experience increased activity.”