INTERVIEW: How FG can regulate the real estate industry, says Segun Abolaji, Leisure Court MD

With over a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Segun Abolaji, managing director of Leisure Court Estates, has advised the federal government to regulate the sector to make housing affordable for Nigerians. 

In an interview with TheCable’s SAMAD UTHMAN in Abuja, Abolaji said the government has a lot to do in terms of land access for the industry and a working mortgage system for the masses. 

TheCable: How did your background influence your career

Abolaji: I am from Osun state, Ikirun to be precise, Although I was born in Lagos. I grew up in Lagos, my life. Growing up in Lagos taught me a lot of things, including challenges.

I didn’t grow up in a wealthy background. I came from a very humble background. And that has always been a guide in my life. I do tell people, just like Nasir El-Rufai in his book ‘Accidental civil servant’. Coming out from secondary school with very good grades, one of the best in school and then at the end of the day, you find yourself in a very tight corner writing JAMB here and there. At the end of the day, it didn’t scale through. Someone told me, “why not think of this Building Technology course instead of doing Electrical and Electronics Engineering, we don’t even know what those courses entail”.

That’s why I always tell people that mentorship is very important in education. I know that the same thing applies to the business world, where some people jump into a business without knowing about it and the challenges therein.

The course — Building Technology — formed the basis of my career and business from that time, and I’ve never regretted it.

TheCable: How did Leisure Court start?

Abolaji: Leisure Court started after my university education. It started as a result of moving from an agent on the street of Abuja to a professional builder.

As a professional, I infused my knowledge in building construction into the property market and that gave birth to the real estate company.

Talking about Leisure Court itself is a whole different story. From getting an appropriate name for the business, talking to my lawyer and visiting the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Leisure Court gives a better description and understanding of pleasure and an estate or group of houses where one can come and relax after a stressful working day.

TheCable: What are the challenges facing the real estate sector in Nigeria?

Abolaji: When you’re talking about business environments in Nigeria, we all know what is obtainable. There is no enabling environment for businesses in Nigeria.

Land disputes formed an integral part of our challenges in the real estate sector. If land issues are solved, you have solved virtually 50 to 60 percent of the real estate problem in Nigeria. Most often, the issues in real estate are basically due to enabling government regulations or provisions.

Most real estate companies buy properties from third parties, which involves extra costs. It is also difficult to get loans from the banking sector to grow your business. We cannot do it all alone, we hope government come to our aid and make things easier and better for us in the sector.

TheCable: How do you think government can come in?

Abolaji: As I said earlier, one of the four things is to provide land. The government has done this in the past, but it got into the wrong hands due to corruption and inadequacies.

It doesn’t even get into the hands of developers at the end of the day. And then the developers will have to buy from those appointed homeowners, and then the costs increase. If the government can allocate land to the developers, not politicians, not cronies or families, it would be a lot easier and then give us an enabling environment.

The mortgage bank should function better to provide mortgage loans. It is effective in every other part of the world.

Sometimes we have to take advocacy to some of these civil servants to tell them that they contribute to the National Housing Fund and that the money is there. You know it’s your right to apply for it, and most employees will retire without knowing they’re supposed to benefit.

So we should make it easier. In Nigeria, it looks like the only people that can assess mortgage loans are civil servants, but it should be everybody, every citizen. And if adequate support is given to the developers, it will be a lot easier.

TheCable: What was your share of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Abolaji: The pandemic dealt with everybody, and the real estate sector was one of the worst hit. How do you talk to someone to buy a land or a house when they are struggling to eat or have health concerns?

The sector is gradually picking up. Apart from COVID-19, the country also fell into recession, and we have an economic crisis. So all these are factors affecting the sector.

For us, we do more affordable housing, the kind of housing that goes around and touches ordinary people in society. The affordability of our properties made us cope with some of the economic challenges.

TheCable: Apart from federal mortgages, what is the real sector doing to increase home ownership in Nigeria?

Abolaji: As I said earlier, we’re more into affordable housing. Although affordability is relative but when you’re talking about price, we have landed properties that you can get for even as low as a million naira or even less. We presently have offices in Abuja, Lagos, Osogbo, Akure and some other offices coming up.

In Osogbo, we have land for as low as a million and even less than a million in places. These properties are located in places where people will ordinarily think they would be about 5 million. We have acquired some other properties as low as 400000 where people can easily contribute and pay in instalments.

We also have flexible payment plans within which you can pay. We have some that are six months payment plans, one-year payment, 18-month payment plans and so on. That’s affordability and our ways of helping the government to allow more people to become homeowners.

Yes, we have a total of about over 10 estates in Abuja. We have in Idu, Apo, about five different estates on Airport road and virtually all of them are affordable.

TheCable: So in the next five years, or less, what is the target of the company?

Abolaji: The company’s target is to provide more housing solutions for the Nigerian populace. We are proud to ensure that a lot of people have been taken from the status of being a tenant to landlords. So our target is to build over 10,000 houses — presently, we have achieved about 3,000 in eight years of doing this business.

TheCable: If you have the power to change something about the real estate sector. What would that be? 

Abolaji: Well, if I have the power to change anything, I think regulation. The real estate industry is not adequately regulated.

I will say the government should put proper checks on the activities of real estate companies — in terms of quality, better administration and value for money.

Ibeju Lekki: Lagos hottest real estate investment location

Ibeju-Lekki is the fastest-growing commercial and residential hub located in the Epe Division of Lagos State, Nigeria. Ibeju-Lekki is undoubtedly one of the hottest locations to invest in Lagos as it offers the perfect escape from the rowdy, crowded parts of Lagos. Ibeju-Lekki gives you just the perfect living environment; allowing you to explore and experience a better work-life balance, access to great outdoor activities and, cheaper living costs. Here are some of the benefits of living and investing in Ibeju-Lekki:

  • Beautiful Scenery and amazing beaches

Ibeju-Lekki is home to one of Nigeria’s most palm-fringed beaches. Its beaches, landscapes, and lagoons make this area a prime tourist spot. Most of the indigenous people make a living from fishing. It’s quite common to see children swimming in the ocean or the grown-ups cozying to a bowl of special fish soup.

  • Infrastructure

Most of Ibeju-Lekki is connected to Lekki and other areas of Lagos by the Lekki-Epe expressway. It’s easy to move around Ibeju-Lekki using public transportation or a private vehicle. In the coming years, Ibeju-Lekki is going to be directly opened up to many other parts of Lagos through the 4th Mainland Bridge. With this development, we are looking at the price of properties along the Ibeju-Lekki axis doubling within a year and could cost 5 times more upon completion of the 4th Mainland Bridge.

4th Mainland Bridge: Lagos selects 3 companies in final stage, contract to be awarded in March 2022.

  • Low Crime Rate

Ibeju-Lekki has lower crime rates compared to other areas of Lagos. The possibility of robbery and other crimes is relatively low. Life on this side of town is more peaceful and generally calm. If you intend on raising a family in a serene and tranquility, then this is the pristine region for you.

  • Job Opportunities

Ibeju-Lekki has attracted massive industrial projects like the Dangote refinery and fertilizer plant at the Lekki Free Zone area, a petrochemical and power plant, a deep-sea port, the fourth mainland bridge, the New International Airport, a blossoming tourism sector, and even the Pan-African University all make this area the new commercial hub of Lagos. Ibeju-Lekki is also one of the locations for the Lagos Smart City deal with Dubai. With the actualization of this blueprint, this region would become a central hub for business, manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics and will create many job opportunities.

  • Endless Entertainment and Shopping Options

Ibeju-Lekki is a growing town and has attracted a good number of hotels, resorts, and lounges. This budding town offers you a wide array of fun activities. You can visit the white-sandy Eleko beach or give your family a treat at Funtopia, Tickle Bay, Omu Resort, La Tropicana, and many others. Many shopping centers are located across Ibeju-Lekki to cater to the shopping needs of the residents.

  • Investment Opportunities

Even if you don’t intend on moving to the Ibeju-Lekki region, it is an ideal location for investing. Leisure Court Estate, Ibeju-Lekki gives you a perfect opportunity to own properties in the axis with massive expected return on Investment. Leisure Court Limited also has Estate developments at Eti Osa, Lekki Conservation Centre, Orchid Road, and parts of the Lagos mainland.

READ: Magnificent Off-Plan Property Deals In Nigeria

Mercy Aigbe

Leisure Court Limited Unveils Mercy Aigbe as Brand Ambassador

Award-winning and super talented actress, filmmaker and producer, Mercy Anuoluwapo Aigbe has signed as the new brand ambassador to the renowned real estate firm, Leisure Court Limted. The event which took place at the headquarters of Leisure Court Limited in Abuja saw the award-winning actress signed to one of the fastest growing real estate companies in Nigeria. Speaking at the event, the MD/CEO of Leisure Court Limited, Bldr. Segun Abolaji praised the new brand ambassador for her work ethics and how she is an upright role model to the coming generation. He emphasized on the importance of relationship, how the Mercy Aigbe brand and the Leisure Court brand can both work together to achieve big things. Responding, Mercy Aigbe who was wowed by the reception, thanked the management of Leisure Court Limited for finding her worthy of this feat. She promised to give this new role her all and help showcase the company to the world. She stated the relationship is going to go beyond just business, as she’s now part of the big Leisure Court Family.

Magnificent Off-Plan Property Deals In Nigeria

The term “off-plan” is certainly not alien to smart investors in the real estate industry, especially those with interest in the Lagos and Abuja markets. How are the rich getting even richer? Do you ever wonder how they are making so much money without commensurate stress? You might have heard it said that real estate is the cornerstone of wealth. One of the secrets of the wealthy in major cities in Nigeria is knowing how to work the opportunities they spot to their advantage. And off-plan estate buyers consistently rake in millions as profits within a short period of property appreciation – massive enough to afford them plots of land in other parts of town, flashy cars, expensive trips and even other pricey investments.

An off-plan property (also known as a pre-sale property, a pre-sale or a pre-construction) is a property you buy below the market value, when it is still undergoing development or construction. During the infancy of a real estate project, developers tend to reduce the cost of properties, offering early adopters a great opportunity for gain. Most investors would even want to monitor the projects they are keying into while making their payments by installments, to ensure that building and finishing materials are of Grade A quality and that the blueprint is carefully followed. At this stage, they can also influence the design and style of their choice houses. Only off-plan deals can give clients room for such flexibility.

Buying pre-constructions is about the cleverest way to put money into real estate, as an off-plan property you acquire for ₦35M could eventually sell for ₦50M on completion. Take a moment to consider these investors: Investor A and Investor B both have ₦50M to put into real estate. Investor A gets informed about a newly rising estate in a well sought-out location, with multiple housing units each of which the developer is willing to sell for ₦35M at the stage of development. Investor A quickly seizes the opportunity, keys into the project, and saves ₦15M off his initial budget of ₦50M, while still having the option to gradually pay certain percentages of the ₦35M over a stipulated period for the property. On the other hand, Investor B goes looking for a completely built or developed property and succeeds in getting one for ₦50M, with the condition that he has to pay the total price of the property at once. Being able to afford it, Investor B acquires the property but later finds out that the housing unit or building which Investor A had purchased for ₦35M is similar to the one he bought at ₦50M. What if Investor B also later discovers some building defects in the fully developed property he just acquired? That would mean that he, after spending an extra ₦15M for a property he could have afforded with ₦35M, also incurs additional cost of repair or maintenance of his defective property. Investor A obviously would have more cash flow, the financial capacity for more investments and profits, and less maintenance fees to worry about than his counterpart, who did not even have the opportunity to ascertain the quality of the materials used in constructing his choice property. This is a typical illustration of the difference between someone who understands the potential of off-plan properties and someone who doesn’t. Indeed, when considering what kind of property to buy with certainty about value and huge profitability, the best decision to make as a shrewd investor is to secure an off-plan property deal and monitor the advancement of the project. Provided this sort of real estate investment is undertaken with a developer who has a reputable history and culture of excellence, it is certainly a meaningful venture.

Jason's Court 2, Lekki
Jason’s Court 2, Lekki.

Leisure Court Limited, the developer of Leisure Court Estates & Leisure Lifestyle Homes have their uniqueness in the home market: at the inception of each estate development and off-plan marketing, the company presents a clearly detailed prototype of the estate to buyers, including 3D diagrams, site overviews, site plans, unit plans, and floor plans. The word “prototype” refers to the original sample of the building on paper, which shows the view and vista of both the structure and the environment. The amazing reality is the excellence with which they reproduce prototypes! It goes without saying that their off-plan strategy is rather a goodwill to both investors and householders, not at all an elixir to property development financing.

The Leisure Court Limited’s off-plan sales strategy is a long-term purchase plan which allows investors the chance to make capital gains from their investments by paying for their choice property within a period of 18 months. The payment terms stipulate only 20% of the price of a property as the initial deposit. For instance, if the price of a unit of luxury 2-bedroom apartment in a competitive location in the city is 45 Million Naira (₦45,000,000), the periodic and convenient off-plan payment system requires an early investor to pay only Nine Million Naira (₦9,000,000) as a subscription amount, which is 20% of the price of the property. The balance is spread for one and a half years in this manner: the buyer would pay 20% of the total price after six months, 20% after another six months, and then 40% on completion. This is to the benefit of the buyer, because once there is a signed agreement and a contract of sale, the terms of purchase cannot be compromised by the seller or developer even if the market rises within the period of off-plan purchase. When planning to buy off-plan property, an investor needs to carry out due diligence to guarantee the worthiness of the estate they intend subscribing for. As much as it is certain that a property will appreciate in value with time, there is also a possibility for a market to fall. This is particularly the case when property locations are not well researched to ensure that investors get a huge return on their investments. Location is a major stimulus for choosing an off-plan property, properties do not appreciate at the same level in different communities. For this reason, when purchasing off-plan properties with the aim of making huge returns, the major concern of an astute buyer should be selecting the ones sited in prime locations (and this is ascertained through the landmark facilities within close proximity to it, such as schools, banks, event centres, government offices and agencies, private corporations, parks, and so on; basic infrastructures in the neighborhood of the estate such as airports, seaports, access road into the estate, waste disposal systems, water purification plants, electric utility facilities, etc.; history of the place which tells whether the environment is notable for peace or violence, and several other markers). A property standing in a good location will always rise in value in the real estate market. So, location should be well ahead considered by an investor, while also checking other factors such as the reputation of the developer, trust, and conformity of construction to standard practices.

Jason's Court 2, Lekki
Payment Plan for Jason’s Court 2

Leisure Court Limited is reputable for situating impressive estates in exceptionally strategic locations among which are Airport Road, Lugbe and Dakibiyu in Abuja; Alaka (near Eric Moore Towers, National Theatre and National Stadium Surulere), and Lekki (in the neighborhood of Sky Fall, Lekkki Conservation Centre, Elegushi Beach) in Lagos, with more estates springing up. Because of the high potential of these estates to skyrocket return on investment, there is a torrential demand for them as we have witnessed in both Lagos and Abuja. The quality of the residential developments the company has under way is gaining renowned accolades all over major cities, and raining profits for a wide spectrum of investors within and outside the country. Notable among its achievements is that, without compromising building codes and the standards of materials, the Leisure Court Limited is at the middle point of the realty market, satisfying both high-end buyers and middle-class buyers. The company has thus far stood out and weathered every storm in the industry, having provided a system that has proven to be a reliable investment vehicle to many Nigerians, and above all, having never engaged in any substandard or questionable practices which could undermine its accomplishments of many years.

With a verifiable history, good reputation, and many years of success in the industry, the Leisure Court Limited has the answer to every investor’s need. Buildings are developed in estate communities with gates and perimeter fencing, street lights, good drainage, constant electricity, and recreational facilities and security. Apartments fully fitted with AC, heat extractors, microwave ovens, gas cookers, refrigerators, DSTV dual connections, washing machines, and kitchen cabinets. With these properties strategically located, the appreciation in value will surely be on a geometrically progressive level. Who doesn’t want a house whose value multiplies on a daily basis? Upon payment of only 20% of the property’s price as initial deposit, you are offered a contract of sale that is quite lucid and devoid of loopholes, with legal protection well enunciated and all aspects of documentation taken care of at zero cost to the buyer. And given a flexible payment plan that guarantees your “breathing space” in about 18 months, you can secure the best properties in the major cities, courtesy of the Leisure Court Limited. What a joy and convenience it is to embrace this enriching approach to real estate investment. Buying off-plan properties is a millionaire’s investment strategy. You can access housing funds by joining the Leisure Court Multipurpose Cooperative Society.  Remember: you will never go wrong with the right association.