Affordability in the housing sector entails that, people are able to pay and acquire apartments with prices within their capacities. In the past, housing experts defined affordability as households spending less than 30 per cent of their budget on housing, including rents or mortgages, property taxes, maintenance and repairs as well as basic utilities.

Recently, the newer approach defines affordability as households spending less than 45 per cent of their budget on housing and transportation combined.

The dynamic nature of housing prices can complicate affordability analysis. In particular, increasing the supply of middle-priced housing tends to increase affordable housing supply indirectly as some households move from low- to the new middle-priced units and over the long-term, as the new housing depreciates in price and becomes more affordable.

With housing posing threats to livelihoods, the need has come for efforts, strategies and tactics to be put in place for the purpose of increasing housing affordability in Nigeria. Such strategies include:

A cost-to-design approach is necessary for low-cost housing to be achieved. Affordability must guide the designing of houses in the 21st century.

According to experts, the starting point for the design of affordable housing unit is to establish the affordable rent for the area in which the project is to be located.

Affordability through design also entails the determination of the best property development methods available to achieve cost reduction without compromising quality.

The design must also be sympathetic to both the physical and cultural environment. A good design should aim at achieving affordability, marketability and durability of the finished product.

An idea to housing development efforts in the African traditional setting is the pooling of resources to develop houses by members of a given social group for the benefit of their members.

Members contribute into a common pool for a pre-arranged order of housing development for members; this form of development strategy is most applicable among low-income earners for cheap, notwithstanding adequate low-cost housing.

The Government should encourage increased housing development by providing access roads, power, and water and drainage facilities to proposed housing development areas. The developers will then channel available funds to provide the house’s proper and thus quickly realize the houses.

The inability of the Government to enforce development control is one of the major reasons for the deterioration of housing and housing infrastructure in most urban areas in Nigeria. Development control should be implemented devoid of adverse vested interest, to ensure that good housing quality is maintained.

Apart from the above, there is large potential for affordable housing development, including moderate-priced development that becomes affordable over time, but such development can create local impacts (construction noise and dust, and increased vehicle traffic and parking problems), which lead to controversy and neighborhood resistance.

In Nigeria, a vibrant housing sector is critical to achieving inclusive economic growth. While addressing the problem of high unemployment.

Mr Ayo Ibaru the chief operating officer of North Court Real Estate, made the point tagged “Unlocking Growth in The Real Estate & Housing Market in Nigeria.”

Speaking on the recent Q4, 2020 gross domestic product (GDP) numbers released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), that showed that Nigeria had exited recession (0.11 per cent from -3.62 per cent in Q3,2020 and -6.10 per cent in Q2 2020), he described this as a good turn of events that had the potential of unlocking more potentials for the Real Estate industry.

According to him, the governments at the Federal and State levels must embrace housing as a tool for driving economic development and achieving shared prosperity.

He believed issues of titling with the reform of the “Land Use Act”, would enable increased access to land by operators in the real estate and housing value chain.

On the current Economic Sustainability Plan of the Federal Government, focused on “Mass Housing” the realtor emphasized the need for private sector participation, which would support the government’s target.

Ibaru highlighted his position that no nation has achieved the economic strategy of uplifting millions of people from poverty, without integrating the housing sector and its entire ecosystem.

He said China in 2020 achieved the development of 15m housing units, which speaks further to the need for the government in Nigeria to explore a robust policy on “Social Housing” that the private sector can key into.

He added, “With the deployment of technology, States can reduce the barriers to accessing land for citizens, and make the process more transparent and efficient”.

On the issue of data in the Nigerian Real Estate and Housing Market, he said there has been adequate information and research but accessibility, interpretation and application remained a challenge.

He cited the North Court 2021 Outlook report for the Real Estate industry, which noted that a positive economic recovery for Nigeria would signal increased activities and opportunities in the sector.

He identified Demand and Supply factors, Quality of Infrastructure and Security as some of the key factors for achieving affordable housing in Nigeria.

He emphasized the need for government to invest in infrastructure to improve the Real Estate and Housing market in the country and projected that, the healthcare, industrial, retail and residential segments of the market would continue to see notable growth.

He admitted also that there had been massive local investments in the Real Estate sector in 2020, with international investors willing to partner with small, medium, and large-scale developers.

For a country like Nigeria to achieve this great stride of affording housing, it must key into public-private partnership (PPP).

This allows the private sector to participate in the provision of affordable housing, it has been a notable feature in the recent past in terms of housing delivery mechanisms. PPP, a form of procurement originally entails the provision of public assets and services through collaboration between the government and the private sector.

The collaborative effort between this sector and the government is generally believed to be beneficial.

The advantage is that, it enhances government capacity to develop integrated solutions, facilitates creative and innovative approaches thus reducing the cost and time spent to implement the project, transfers certain risk to the private project partner, attracts larger productivity and more sophisticated bidders to projects while providing an avenue to access better skills, expertise and technology and also to produce an effective housing delivery to its citizens.

As a result of people relocating from rural to urban areas, there is limited availability of land to accommodate the increased population of urbanization, thus the government and the private sectors need to strategize to meet the increased demand for housing.

Some of the challenges to housing delivery are related to the economic and political environment, problem of high cost of acquiring land, youth harassment of developers (matching ground), affordability, poor remuneration and low minimum wages of workers resulting in low purchasing power that unattractive to developers, escalating high cost of building material, high profit driven attitudes of the private developers arising from high cost of fund or finance among others.

To redress this problem, the government must create an enabling environment for the private sector to act as the engine of growth in the housing sector. Such enabling environment as pointed out in the body of the research must necessarily include the reduction of interest rates and the creation of a viable secondary mortgage sector to cater for the need of interested mortgage loan applicants amongst other steps needed to be taking by government to tackle the problem of housing delivery in the state.

In addition, the government should create a bye-law to eradicate the social miscreants and anti- corruption practices on the land approval documents.

Source : Leadership