Emmanuel Odemayowa, the Chairman and Group Managing Director of Cavalli Business & Investment Group tells Bennett Oghifo the luxury real estate market in Nigeria has great prospects

As a big player in the real estate industry, what is your view on the recently signed Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority law as regards regulating, sanitising and monitoring the activities of the industry?

It is a welcome development that the Lagos State Government is putting various mechanisms in place to checkmate and monitor real estate projects and practitioners in the state. In recent years, there have been so many cases of fraudulent activities which do not portray the real estate sector well in Lagos. There is the need to eliminate impostors, fraudsters, sharp practices connected with persons who claim to be real estate developers but whose sole objective is to defraud Lagosians. The Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority law has the mandate to monitor and sanitize the industry.

As a professional, what can be done in the short and longrun to reduce Nigeria’s housing deficit?

I have been hearing about the Nigeria housing deficit for over 10 years now. Recently, I heard it was 22 million and it doesn’t seem to be abating, rather it seems to be escalating. So, at Cavalli Business & Investment Group, we have massive projects where we have several housing units, and we try to help the market with our projects. We try to do projects where people pay in installments up to like three years or more. We also try to make our projects affordable and we always come up with the best prices. We believe that this will go a long way in closing the gap. We are also reaching out to the state government and also the Federal Ministry of Housing in Abuja for partnership and see how we can close this gap. We understand that it is always not so easy for private developers to do so much when it comes to social housing without government input and it should not stop at the process of giving land to the developers. We have the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company; these organs of the government have to work in much better ways to encourage private developers like us. We are doing a lot already, but we need to do so much more because the housing deficit is growing and our population is growing as well.

Talk us through the projects of Cavalli Group and its subsidiaries

Cavalli Group is a holding company for different sub corporations. Its major sectors are Real Estate, Facility Management, Construction, Infrastructure and Energy. Cavalli Group is majorly into the business of sales and development of luxury homes and apartments within Lagos in particular and Nigeria in general. The group has gathered a lot of experience in the construction of luxury homes and apartments through our wide range of luxury homes portfolio- from small apartment buildings, mixed-use buildings, terrace houses, high-rise apartments. As a group, we are committed to client’s satisfaction, quality workmanship and best service delivery. We have the following members namely: Deluxe Residences is an urban real estate development, investment and management firm which focuses on luxury residential apartments in upscale locations.

Global Property Partners (GPP) as a member which specializes in the acquisition, development and management of commercial properties. GPP developments range from office, retail, industrial and mixed-use developments. Cavalli Projects & Designs is an engineering construction company with vast experience in delivering engineering projects across Nigeria. CPD provides designs, engineering, construction and maintenance of civil works. J&B Facility Management is a leading full-service facility management and smart integrated property company with a fast growing portfolio in real estate assets management services.

Cavalli Group aligns more to the luxury real estate sector in Nigeria. What informs this strategy and what are the gains? As a group, we apply the knowledge that we have gathered over the years in the luxury real estate space to acquire real estate in areas that have substantial upside appreciation potential. Luxury developments have key factors which include location, design, space, comfort and the amenities. As a leader in the industry, we cover all these aspects in the projects we develop and deliver.

We take pride in our abilities to locate and acquire economically sound high yield investment and development properties. We have built a strong reputation of offering affordable luxury housing and we are being measured by the sustainable business value we offer our stakeholders. These have helped us in achieving optimum results in the marketing and sales of all our developments.

Compared to the global scene, how will you rate the luxury real estate market in Nigeria?

The investment rationale of owning luxury real estate remains attractive and has continued to grow. There is a significant boost from the increasing number of wealthy individuals who seek to own multiple luxury homes. Even with the Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals saw the need for better serviced homes with access to facilities that encourage work from home (WFH) policies such as steady power and Wi-Fi connections. The rise of insecurities is also driving

the demand of more home seekers to look for homes in secure, well gated environments. The expectations of home buyers are very much matched to that of global standards. Many developers are aware of the needs of these millennial, as we have a lot of buyers from Nigerians in the Diaspora who are keying more into real estate investment opportunities due to the gains of the dollar over the naira. The luxury real estate market in Nigeria has continued to grow both from the supply of developers who are stepping up with offerings that match the demand and expectations of the end users. The Luxury real estate outlook remains positive.

What are the challenges Cavalli Group is encountering operating in the real estate sector in Nigeria?

Apart from the issue of access to land, especially from the government, getting titles like Certificate of Occupancy, Governor’s Consent for subsequent transactions and some other things has really affected the housing sector in Nigeria. We have this bureaucratic bottleneck, and it slows down the processes. The processes are good, but they are not meant to frustrate people, are they? And then again, access to finance for both the developers and the end-users. For the developers, it is always there; at least every developer is always out there trying to look out for funds for projects. Then the end-users, there’s National Housing Fund (NHF) but I will say it should be strengthened and expanded. The population we have in Nigeria is tending towards 200 million right now, so when you have such organizations working to cater for housing for this number of people, then their capacity needs to be enlarged. There must be bridging of gaps in getting finances to the end-users, so they can get loans and get mortgages with a single-digit interest rate.

There is a dearth of facility management culture in Nigeria with an increasing situation of completed projects rotten away after a few years of completion. What are you doing differently?

The issue of facility management is indeed a serious problem in our country. Many national and private monuments that were once the pride of Nigeria are today standing in almost total ruins. We must imbibe the maintenance culture, and this is important that it is included in the project design, execution and delivery phases. At Cavalli Group, we have the J&B Facility Management arm which is a leading full-service facility management and smart integrated property company with a fast growing portfolio in real estate assets management services. J&B Facility Management have all the expertise and requisite experience to manage and maintain all kinds of projects in compliance with the global available standards.

In terms of global standardisation, what advice will you give to government, stakeholders and operators in the Nigerian property and infrastructure industry?

We currently have strong policies regulating the industry but what is really expected of the government is to ensure implementation and continuous support of the various stakeholders in terms of reducing the bureaucratic bottlenecks associated with access to lands, C of O and other necessities. For operators, we must adhere strictly to professional ethics and create satisfying value to end users.

Tell us about yourself

I had my first degree at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) where I studied English and Literature. I had my MBA at London School of Business and Finance (LSBF). I also participated and completed the Chief Executive Programme at the Pan-Atlantic University (Lagos Business School) and IESE Business School of the University of Navara in Barcelona, Spain. Although I grew up in a real estate environment, I did not start out my career in real estate.

I worked briefly at the presidency in Abuja and also with a private sector organization in Abuja. My uncle who I was with in Abuja is an engineer and he was part of the people that built Abuja in 1985. From 1991, I started travelling to Abuja and when I graduated, I had my youth service there.

I left Abuja after working briefly for about two to three years and moved to Lagos. In Lagos, I was living with my cousin who was also into real estate and construction. I worked with him for a while and eventually, I had to branch out. Prior to that time, right in Abuja, I was supervising some projects but not really on full time because as at that time, I had not made up my mind that I was going into real estate. When I am off work during the evenings, I try to play golf at Ikoyi Club where I am a member. I also watch a lot of football. I am a Chelsea fan.

Source : This Day