With a decade and international experience in architecture Femi Obasa, co-founder of Green Motif Real Estate Developers made the leap to real estate development to raise his market value, and to broaden his tentacles both for experience and profit.
Obasa says Nigerian architects are underpaid despite giving their best to their clients; and while technically inclined, they possess little to no business development skills, and so often paid lesser than the value they provide. Further, the constantly changing world where the line between architecture, construction and real estate become more blurred and interwoven, it is wiser for architects to spread their tentacles both for experience and profit.
Established in 2012, first as a real estate development consultant company, Green Motif kicked off full construction three years ago, and foresees further potential for expansion in the industry in particular Abuja, where the terrain is pleasing and land vast and virginal.
What is real estate development?
Real estate development refers to the profession and a process through which real estate developers create or recreate the built environment for value. Property in real estate development are acquired and developed into commercial or residential buildings, and can range from apartment complexes and single-or-multi-family homes to restaurants, retail spaces, offices and industrial spaces.
If you are not an architecture or involved in other part of the built environment, you must be passionate about it, because that will inform much of your projects or activities. In Abuja, most developers are lawyers who have funds and invest in real estate. Of course, they invest in the sector to make money, that’s the major reason. But beyond that, passion is key because one can run out of steam if investing solely for money.
An architect, going into real estate must have the zeal to give people the best they need besides making money. It makes you a better architect with rich, quality and solutions-driven design portfolio. For non-architects, you should be passionate about construction, or real estate as an industry. That will inform your impact in the field.
Real estate is not all about paying money to build, or buy a house or investing to make profit. There are many aspects to it. Real estate is also about solving housing problems. That Nigerians rent houses annually for a million and more is absurd. Real estate can be practiced in a way that people can rent spaces monthly even weekly or pay as they earn. That’s an area where real estate development should come to play and build houses whereby people can pay monthly, even weekly. They can take it a step further to come up with real estate development practice that enables people rent and eventually own the house. And there is market for smaller, mass housing for people who don’t wish to live in mansions, rather in a one or two bedroom spaces, or live in a functional space where everything or service, food, water is available and supermarket, gym and restaurants are close by, hence the existence of condominiums. We don’t see that here in Nigeria, but it is part of real estate development venture. Interestingly, the abovementioned also similar to service apartments are more expensive because they are high rent.
Real estate involves leasing aspect, where developers rent a property out for a number of years, say twenty or more. The lease can be renewed after that or rented to another for variety’s sake.
What are the inherent opportunities in real estate development?
Real estate development will thrive even further in Abuja than any other part of the country. Abuja gives one more opportunities to do more with the available virgin land and opportunities that follow the sector. The opportunities are endless. To be a professional in the industry, one can be an architect or as consultant, or a real estate marketer, landscaping, interiors etc.
How can Nigerians position themselves to benefit from the real estate development industry?
Whoever wants to get involved in real estate development must be passionate. Don’t just build death traps for people. If you don’t have the money to build, you can begin by working with the real estate development company to learn the nitty-gritty aspects of the sector. You can start from other states beyond Abuja and Lagos.
You can also start as an estate evaluator/valuer who values peoples’ properties. Of course, embark on self-development to acquire the skills you need to be relevant in the sector. Of course, Donald Trump’s quote that, “one of the attributes of a successful person is the ability to withstand pressure.” I say this because in real estate industry the pressure is times ten of whatever pressure one had before joining the field. Why? In foreign climes, one has the opportunity of acquiring unhindered loans either from banks or from mortgage facilities, and the protocols are not much. In Nigeria, to get a mortgage loan from a bank takes a whole year, talk more disburse the loan. In addition, the interest rates are killing, which at the end of the day, one would rather not take it. So, most times, developers would rather source the monies themselves.