Mr. Stanley Obumneme Awaogu is the Managing Director of Grace Bounty Properties Limited, developers of Grace Garden Estate (Phase 1 & 2), Agbara and MacBerry Estate, Asaba. He got into real estate in 2007 under Realty Point Nig. Ltd. and later Wealteam Properties, both real estate developers, where the company is doing marvelous things today. In this interview, he x-rays what is happening in the property sector generally and what his company is doing in the sector.
The sector is one of the best sectors now in the country that has actually not had issues of downturn. Since I have been part of this sector, it has been a rising sector, an encouraging sector, where people find good trust in putting down their funds to recoup in a matter of time. There are people’s understanding of the scheme we present and what it actually means. Aside the tussle we go through from the people we acquired the land from, you have to create time to make the subscribers understand the scheme and how it will profit them.
Everybody is having their hands in property and it is becoming very hard to convince people to actually know that this one is going to be more profit-oriented in a short time than the others. A lot of property companies are out there at different locations. We are out there having this tussle because we are working in one market and want the same subscribers. But the greatest challenge is the ability to come together and speak with one voice on things relating to real estate.
The neighbourhood is not an estate, it is a neighbourhood as we call it. A neighbourhood is just like a little chunk of piece of land that you buy, about five to 10 acres of land and you sell per plot and owners build as they want. So we are not actually the sole administrator of the place. That is what we mean by neighbourhood.
Asaba property market
We are bringing a different thing into the Asaba real estate sector. Before now, what they had on ground were quarters. That is why you see the senior staff quarters, the federal housing quarters, this and that. We are bringing a different ball game. And what is the ball game here? In the estate, we are running it in three dimensional parts. In the layout, we have zones for the high dense parts, zones for the middle dense and low. In such way, we will be able to accommodate everyone who wants to invest within that environment because Asaba now is becoming much more stable in terms of peace and its culture is becoming so welcoming to visitors that every investment is now going there. So, to actually create an attraction to that MacBerry Estate, what we decided to do is divide the estate such that it can be affordable to everyone who wishes to own a plot in Asaba in MacBerry Estate. We are bringing installment payment over a long period of time into the Asaba property market, which before now was almost non-existent and offering everyone the opportunity to own a piece of property.
Right now, we have done bulldozing of the site and we will commence perimeter fencing and building of the entrance gate soon. We are looking at doing these at the shortest time possible so that the town planner can go in for marking out of the site.
The plots of land would be developed by individual subscribers at N700,000 per plot for the dense area and payable over 20 months. The middle dense is N600,000 per plot and the lower dense is N350,000 per plot. In the higher dense, the measurement is 80 feet by 100. The middle dense is 60 by 100 and the lower dense is 30 by 100. The subscription rate is encouraging. It is like a lot of people want to go down to Asaba now. We have sold approximately 30 per cent of the plots since we started selling this September and we have about 45 acres of land to sell. It is located at Ogwashi-Ukwu.
This estate is five minutes away from the metro city of Asaba (Okpanam), one minute drive from the Onitsha/Asaba Express, three minutes drive from the Asaba International Airport, Iron Steel Company, Asaba, Paint Company, Otulu Secondary School and Delta State Polytechnic and an upcoming private university. Perimeter fence, the gate, CCTV, randomly sited bore holes to enable easy water supply in the estates. Block industry so that every investor can have easy access to good blocks. We are also putting a police post in the estate for the security of the people. There will also be parks for relaxation as well as an events place.
We are looking at April 2015. We would have stopped selling and done allocation but as soon as we are done with bulldozing work on the site, we shall put up our own structures, which would be sold. In Asaba, we are looking at developing 50 units of three bedroom bungalows that will be spread across.
We have been able to show that to a very large extent. We did allocation at the phase one of Grace Garden Estate three weeks ago and it is ready for people to commence building and we are also there working and building on the site. We took note of some of these shortfalls from developers when we came into the sector and decided that our priorities would be one at a time so we won’t keep our subscribers in suspense. That is what we did when we took up Agbara in September 2013 and within 11 months, we have been able to get done with what we are doing there and allocated to individuals so whoever is ready to build can start.
In the raging controversy of whether this or that cement is the real thing, we have not witnessed any kind of fake cement in the course of our property development. I have not because we go directly to buy from the depot, the quantity we want to use and so far it has always been okay and in the same way we implore our subscribers and in order to avoid such, we buy on their behalf. We normally use PureCem, the 32.5 and 3xD and it has served us well. We really have not been able to factor them differently to check, but what we look at is the strength of the work when we use it. Once we are able to get the quality we want, that is our priority.
Alternative to cement
I think individual choices differ but in our Estates’ Covenant, we have been able to say this is exactly what we want. Not that the alternative materials in buildings are inferior, rather, we just decided to choose what we want. We have alternatives already. We have the pre-fabricated buildings other than the container. But it is all about taste. If one is in love with that, why not? It is what one is comfortable with. For cost effectiveness, I wouldn’t say cement because that depends on one, the structure you are setting in place and how you want to put the interior. If I am running a simple bungalow and you are running a complex bungalow with a prefab, it could amount to the same amount.
Like I said, we are not discouraging that idea but sometimes, you have to be unique in a place. Maybe in our next estate, we have to pull a uniqueness in some quarters and say, okay, this is what we want. They are all beautiful but we can’t mix them together because they might not give us the brand we want to see. But remember, alternative building is something you have to allow people buy into as time goes on.
Federal Government housing
I don’t see that affecting the private sector, rather, it complements it. I understand that the material cost for them might be lower, but coming into the sector, they are not coming into the sector with a mindset of taking out the private sector, which they also encourage, but I think they are coming to supplement our efforts and give us the conviction that we are on the right track.
Cost of building
In Economics, there are also such contingencies where the higher the supply, the higher the price. I think we are facing that right now. Government can only do more to encourage private developers. They should be able to look into some of the stakeholders that are handling building materials from the iron to cement, etc. They should be able to look at that sector and find ways to reduce their costs. With that, the individual developers will be more encouraged to stand out and be upright in delivering the projects they kick off.
Land Use Act
I have listened to one or two talks on that and the government is aware that the private sector operators are on ground. They are also trying to see other ways they can help the private sector. So I wouldn’t see them saying no to us. The private sector has been able to do a lot and touch zones that literally the government wouldn’t have reached. But the private sector has been able to drag the attention of government to those places, so it should be a collaborative effort between the two.
We have received calls from individuals in Anambra, Awka precisely. They want us to come and do the same thing and help draw investment to their state. But we focus on one project at a time so once we are done in Asaba, we shall look to Anambra.
Source : SunOnline