Mr. Kunle Adeyemi, the CEO of sterling homes Ltd was in an interview with one of our correspondents, Rianat. He opined that developers need to create a mortgage system that works since the one we have is not accessible.
Read his interview below.
NREH: What influenced your decision to go into real estate considering your background in sciences?
Mr. Adeyemi: What informed my decision to go into real estate is my passion for a good and ideal environment. I was born and bred in the slum, Mushin to be precise. Just about 2% of those I grew up with are considered to be successful today because they are a victim of environment. Your environment influences the way you think and the way you think automatically defines you.
If you want to be a better person, a better society, a better community or a better nation, you must pay attention to your environment. So growing up in the slum and successfully coming out of it has helped me to understand that over 90% of those I grew up with are vulnerable and they probably would have succeeded if they grew up in a good environment. That informed my decision and later became a passion for me to be part of the people that would create and build an ideal and conducive environment that would help the nation.
NREH: Kindly share your experience as a developer and practitioner in the real estate sector based on the years of your experience you’ve had
Mr. Adeyemi: I’ve been around the industry for over a decade and my experience as a developer has been a great one and quiet challenging because we probably would have done better if things are in place.
One of the things that I feel ought to be in place that would have enhanced our productivity or my productivity as a developer is to have a structured repayment plan for developers; a single digit facility that enables developers to access facility and pay back over a reasonable period of time. Having access to funds has been a major challenge to developers in this part of the world. The housing deficit is said to be about 17million with 87% of household population of Nigeria still living in rented apartment; that’s excluding the slum. This shows that the homeownership in Nigeria is very minute compared to what we have in Singapore, United States and even in some African Nations. In a bid to bridge this gap, government can’t be the key players. Private real estate institutions like ours should be empowered and given an enabling environment to operate by having access to single digit facility that can help us deliver and reduce this housing deficit.
NREH: Do you have any of such the facilities in place?
Mr. Adeyemi: We don’t have anything like that again in place. Before now, there used to be something similar to that but a lot of people could not access it and I’m not sure we have anything like that again. The housing deficit we have as a nation is huge and the reason we have a lot of negativity most especially among the young folks is that a number of them are victims of environment. If we can create an ideal environment, we going to raise a real man and a real man make a good community and thus make a good nation.
The second thing is basic Infrastructure. When we have to provide the infrastructure that government ought to provide, it would increase the amount we are going to roll it out to whoever is buying into our project. We lack basic amenities as a nation and it is affecting developers in getting their jobs done.
The third one is to provide accessible mortgage facility to subscribers. A lot of Nigerians wants to become homeowners but they do not have enough capital to build. If they can have a mortgage system that works and is accessible and also allows them to pay over a long period of time like we have in other developed countries, it would be a plus to us as a nation.
The fourth one is the unnecessary bureaucracy towards processing title documents, C of O, building approvals and everything that has to do with real estate. It’s unnecessarily stressful when you have to wait agelessly for title document which is a pre-requisite for developing your property. The turnaround time is just too poor. It can be improved.
These four cardinal issues need to be addressed to bridge the gap of the housing deficit we have as a nation.
NREH: What challenges have you encountered so far in your practice?
Mr. Adeyemi: Asides the ones I have mentioned earlier that affects us the developers, it’s disheartening as a realtor when you find it hard to get a competent person to employ. The incompetence of our graduates is heart-wrenching. You see the so-called professionals who don’t even know the elementary and fundamental things in their respective fields. It’s amazing and also frustrating. How do you explain an engineer who does not understand basic construction principle or a surveyor or an accountant who doesn’t understand basic things?
It’s not peculiar to the real estate sector alone; it’s a general thing and the main reason for the mediocrity we have around. Yet, our university keeps pumping out more half-baked students and you wonder how some of them come up with first class and 2-1 that they can’t even defend. It’s a major challenge for us.
Another challenge I have in this business is people. My greatest assets are people and my greatest problems are people. I’ve had people who are fantastic and I’ve also had people who are terrible. I think this too is a general phenomenon not peculiar to sterling homes alone. We just ensure we try to strike a balance at all times.
Another major challenge at the moment is the prevailing economic situation. The purchasing power of an average investor or an intended subscriber has drastically reduced. One thing is to be willing to be a player in the real estate sector either as a speculator or as a consumer. Another thing is to have a purchasing power. A number of people can’t afford our services because of the economic situation. Despite our different pricing policy, our installments, option and plans and upper sales policy, people still find it difficult to partake in the offers we have. The purchasing power has drastically reduced and it’s having a great effect on us.
NREH: We know a lot of buyers are very skeptical. How have you been able to create a positive sentiment around your products and service offerings judging from the negative bias of undelivered projects, off-plan sales gone badly and issues of non-performance?
Mr. Akinyemi: Thank you so much Rianat.
For me, you cannot imitate what does not exist. The reason we have imitations or fake is because there is an original somewhere. The fact that something is called fake is an indication that there is an original somewhere.
Out there, we have 1001 self-acclaimed realtors who are out not to deliver, whose practice is considered to be very sharp. They are incompetent and not professional but that does not discountenance the fact that there are few of us who are doing it right. The edge we have over them is consistency. We have been consistent over the years in terms of delivery, professionalism and customers’ satisfaction. This has been our driving force and our trademark. Only fools doubt proof. The best way to convince any man is to provide proof. We have catalogue of individuals, organisations, associations both home and abroad who have done business and are still doing business with us. They have good records and testimonies about this organisation. That has been our track record for marketing our services. The surest way to authenticate our Genuity is to be consistent in that thread.
To the reader, always look out for the original ones. They must be a member of the real estate developer’s association (REDAN). That is one of the criteria to know the original ones.
NREH: We know real estate in capital-intensive, judging from a developer’s angle, how do you think the present funding gap can be reduced to the nearest minimum?
One of the ways the gap can be bridged considering the capital intensitivity of real estate is making the basic raw materials available and affordable.
In the real sense of it beyond lip service, we need to embrace public-private partnership (PPP). Developers should start considering joint ventures. There is a limit to what I can do and what another developer can do. That is the only way to bridge the gap between housing deficit and funding of affordable housing. Joint ventures must be encouraged.
NREH: In your opinion, how do you think the re-enacted land use charge will affect the real estate sector?
Mr Adeyemi: I said earlier that one of the major challenges is the prevailing economic situation. Any form of review or amendment whatsoever is not helpful. I don’t support the land use charge in any way whether as a decree or an act.
NREH: What’s your philosophy of life?
Mr. Adeyemi: I have noticed that people’s philosophy is based on their perception. For me, life is meant to be progressive and once life is void of progress, it becomes a burden and not worth living.
NREH: How do you balance your schedule between being the CEO of sterling homes, other businesses and still find time to relax?
Mr. Adeyemi: it’s been challenging I must say. I believe in structure and system. If it has to work because I’m there then the structure is not in place. I can’t be present at two different places at a time. I make sure that most of my organisations are auto-pilot i.e., they don’t require my presence to work.
Beyond that, I give my attention to my family as much as I give to my business. Some people find it odd when I say I go to the Spa to relax. I don’t drink, smoke or club so going to the Spa to do my pedicure, facials and relax for hours helps me unwind.
NREH: Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Adeyemi