Nigeria Real Estate Hub correspondent was in an interview with the CEO of Tromville investment, Pastor Adeyemi Adeniyi A.K.A the Bishop of real estate. He shared six challenges he encountered as a developer in the built environment.
Read his interview below
NREH: We heard about your tremendous contributions as an employee in Property Mart and how you delivered 6 estates and was greatly awarded. Can you share that experience with us and how you started your company, Tromville investment?
Pastor Adeyemi: I worked for property mart which gave birth to grenadines and I happened to be the first to deliver the first fully finished grenadines homes. After that, Property Mart became a different brand and was called grenadines homes
Property mart now deals with the middle and low-class houses while grenadines is for luxury. It is this same property mart that gave birth to Tromville investment. I and two other persons from property mart were given the opportunity to kick-start Tromville investment.
NREH: With that experience, how can you advise millennials in the real estate sector who wants to bring on their A-game?
Pastor Adeyemi: Please permit me to go into the scriptures. The bible says by strength shall no man prevail. Everything I see as a success story today at all levels has been by the grace of God. John 3:27 says for a man can do nothing except it is given to him. There is nothing extraordinary that I did. I just put extra effort into what I was given to do and that was what brought out the extraordinary result.
For anyone who wants to go into real estate, my advice to them is to put monetary gain aside.
In real estate, there is a part that talks about how you can get the money in the business which may be temporal while the other part is the technical part which makes the business. The technical part is the part a lot of people are not interested in, but the few who are, make a lot of money from it.
When I was working, I went for the technical part which makes the business. I was not working as a usual staff that just wants to collect salary at the end of the month. I took my time to learn the technicalities of real estate. I will, therefore, implore anyone who wants to venture into real estate to go for the technical part.
NREH: Experience has shown that building plans take unnecessarily long in Nigeria. Are developers involved in any advocacy effort geared towards reducing the time it takes and its cost?
Pastor Adeyemi: Yes, Developers in the built environment are taking steps but it’s not strong enough.
For instance, the Lagos state government increased the price of survey early this year. They took a step sometime last year also that affected the real estate industry in a way by increasing some payments. Real Estate Developers Association Of Nigeria (REDAN) stood up to fight this but it was after the circular had been released. They are expected to have made such moves while they were still cooking up the idea to pass the bills.
I will say it is expedient to have an informant in the government, most especially the housing sector who can give us hints before those bills are passed so that it won’t come off to us as a surprise. That would give us a sense of readiness and help us know how to counter it.
However, blames cannot be traded because I don’t expect those at the management level in my organisation to spill vital information to junior colleagues. If they do, it would jeopardise my trust for them. So we can’t really blame REDAN for holding back such information from us. They can’t declare their intentions publicly until they are told to do so.
Going forward, more efforts can still be made because the amount you have to pay to get approvals and the time it takes to get them is bureaucratic in nature. We urge government officials to break the backlog of bureaucracy and reduce the timing a file should stay on a particular table.
NREH: How will you access the first quarter of the year 2018 and your forecast regarding the remaining year?
Pastor Adeyemi: The first quarter has been very interesting. Since the beginning of this year, the economic situation has affected a whole lot of real estate investors that used to work with us. What we have done, however, is to re-strategize and look at how to introduce products that are not expensive into the market. That has really helped us a lot.
We believe the year is still young and there’s a whole lot that can be done. So far, we have launched two products and by the grace of God, we are getting feedback.
NREH: If you were able to deliver 6 estates for the firm you were working for, how many estates have you been able to deliver since Tromville started?
Pastor Adeyemi: We started with Stonegate Estate Scheme in Agbara and by the grace of God, we started full operation with Tromville investment in 2014. Between 2014 and now, we have delivered 8 estates in total.
NREH: What were the challenges you encountered while developing these estates?
Pastor Adeyemi: Delivering eight estates is not a day’s job most especially for those of us working in a country where you don’t get support. Everything we have achieved so far has been with the help of God through a strong mind.
It’s so sad that mortgage in Nigeria is not accessible, unlike other countries where you just work into their mortgage bank and get everything done at ease. Sadly, it is not an institution that works here in Nigeria.
Here are the six challenges developers’ faces in the built environment
1) The issues of Omo-onile
You have to part with a lot of money to get land and be able to use the land. If it’s a country where the government has got full control according to the 1978 Land Use Act, we would get assistance from them as partners whereby they provide the land while we provide the houses. If we can get the cost of land out of the budget of housing, we would be able to sell them at a very reduced rate. But in a situation whereby we have to pay for the land, taxes and what have you, I’m sorry we can’t have the affordable housing we wish for.
2) Getting good people to work with
People are difficult to work with. A lot of them don’t want to work but want to get paid. To get the right people has always been difficult. A wise man once said you must earn your keep and keep your earn. There are still good people though. It’s just difficult to get them
3) Contending with economic policies
This is a big task. The government sometimes come up with policies that could send you back to your village but you have to be able to manoeuver your way around it and still find a way to comply. Some of these policies have killed so many businesses but nonetheless, the government still tries to introduce policies that would favour us. Although, most of the policies they came up with so far have crippled our businesses.
For instance, a house that you ordinarily want to sell for 40 million naira will have to be sold for as low as 20 million because you need off-takers to kick-start the business. When you get the money, you don’t look at the margin, you just want to build and deliver. At the end of the day, you would have lost a lot of money before you start selling at the original price.
5) Infrastructure development
In a situation where you have to provide your roads, drainage, poles, strings, transformers, light etc. there is no way you can regulate your price. Infrastructural development is a huge burden which has really affected this business a great deal because if you don’t have what it takes to provide all these, you will be out of the business
Trust has been abused by many developers. There are a whole lot of Nigerians in diaspora who wants to come back home and invest but they have been swindled by families and relatives. Their trust has been betrayed and they have become so hard to convince.
These are few of the challenges that I have experienced thus far. I’m sure if you ask other developers, they would also have a lot to say.
NREH: How do you balance your work life between being a bishop, a father and a businessman?
Pastor Adeyemi: It is the ability to differentiate between what is urgent and what is important. To a very great extent, I try to manage my time by making sure I don’t entertain time wasters. I try as hard as possible to be time conscious. There are some appointments that come up and you just have to delegate them to other staff. You can’t do it all
My family which is my second priority also needs my time. As I do God’s will, I take my family as important as my business also.
I see everything as a task and not as one those things that need to be done.
NREH: Thanks for your time sir
Pastor Adeyemi: You are welcome