Nigerians in the disapora have narrated their ordeal about real estate’s investment in the country,  urging stakeholders in the sector to hold their members accountable for their actions.

Apart from problems associated with documentation/titling, exorbitant costs, and time consuming processes, lack of trust has been adduced among other factors as a reason Nigerians in the diaspora are hesitant to invest in real estate back home.

However, one of such instances is the case of Mrs Titilayo Abiodun, a United States- based in who is yet to receive her allocation after one year of full payment for some plots of land in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

Rather than deliver on her promise, Abiodun said the developer has been making excuses and demanding extra fee which was not part of the agreement.

Narrating how she came about the developer, she said she first saw the promo of the estate in Ibadan during one of her visits to Nigeria in January 2021.

On returning to the US, she decided to have some real estate investment in Nigeria and called a staff of the company to help out.

According to her, after several discussions, every arrangement was made to pay N2.4 million down payment for three plots of land in Oleyo area of Ibadan, Oyo State.

She was quick to send the money due to the fact that the same person, had at one time helped her sister in-law to purchase some plots of land in the past.

Abiodun said she later instructed her husband in Lagos to follow up with the developer after the final payment was made.

According to her, over one year down the line, the agent has not been able to deliver the land as promised.

“It has been from one excuse to the other,” Abiodun’s husband lamented while narrating his ordeal to Nigerian Tribune.

“Upon full payment, the developer asked me to meet her in Ibadan for the allocation paper, only for her to insist on additional N1.2 million, which was not part of the agreement/bargain.

“As I am talking to you, we have ordered the arrest and the case is with the police,” Abiodun’s husband said.

This is one case out of many Nigerians in the diaspora that have fallen victims in the process of real estate’s transactions back home.

Disapora Nigerians’ views

Speaking about the worrisome issue when interviewed via a social media platform, United States based, Yinka Ibitoye, explained that most Nigerians in the disapora were scared to invest in property due to general dishonesty that has pervaded the society.

“So many stories of fraud and even killings filter in every day. It’s just sensible to be really careful,” he said.

The US- based Nigerian said many of his colleagues were hesitant because they have been duped before.

“Many have had their fingers burnt,” he said.

According to him, two factors were primarily responsible for a decision to own a property in Nigeria, mentioning hope to return to the country and investment’s worthiness.

“The first is the willingness and hope to return to Nigeria someday. The second will be if they have the means or if they count it a worthwhile investment.

“All these vary from person to person.”Most Nigerians who have some connection to the country will like to have a property in the county. I however don’t think having a property for rental or commercial purpose is popular due to rate of return compared to having property for the same purpose in western world,” he said.

On factors they would consider before investing in the real estate, Ibitoye listed risk, safety, cost, affordability and return on investment.

To regain the trust of investors in the sector, he said this could be made slowly by showcasing previous project through friends and relatives, exhibiting high professionalism, patiently explain all legalities, breaking things down to simple components and making payments affordable.

Also a London-based Nigerian, Abayomi Olaleye, said that people in diaspora were of the opinion that average Nigerians could not be trusted.

“As much as there are genuine business minded people out there, you also have to be wary of the dodgy ones who also pose around as real,” he said.

According to him, the news of experiences suffered by people in the diaspora who have fall victims that spread like wild fire has not helped matters.

Olaleye advised that whoever wanted to invest in Nigeria’s real estate to be on his toes and do enough research.

He urged that they should do the risk assessment of the business proposals and the conveyors of such businesses to know it’s risk level before venturing into it to avoid investment opportunities turning out to be investment misfortune.

International Housing Finance Expert, Kunle Faleti, said that Nigerians in diaspora viewed the real estate sector as an opportunity for investment, especially given the exchange rate advantage.

Rather than fear, he explained that diaspora Nigerians could be said to be hesitant in investing in real estate.

“This can be alluded to challenges associated with real estate’s acquisition in Nigeria such as titling, exorbitant costs and fees, time consuming processes, to mention a few,”  he said.

He affirmed that many of them have been defrauded over the years and that the instances of fraud are still there, but added that with technology, social media and enlightenment, there have been less cases of fraud today than 15 years ago.

Way out

For any Nigerian in the disapora who would like to invest in real estate for personal or income generation purposes, Faleti enjoined them to engage the service of professionals.

“Caveat Emptor – Buyer beware. Shine your eyes. Nigerian in diaspora who want to invest in real estate for personal or income generation purposes should engage the service of professionals.

“They should not rely on family and/or friends. They should not try to cut corners. Engage the services of a real estate professional, a lawyer and a banker/financial advisor. They will also provide checks and balances for their respective service,” he said.

To guide against activities of fraudsters in the sector, he urged that the Federal and State governments along with industry stakeholders to have major roles to play.

On its part, he urged that government should ensure land is safe and secured, “ensure right to transferable title is guaranteed, and create an enabling environment for accessibility to land records and recordation of same.”

According to him, stakeholders must hold their members accountable for their actions, adding that they should embark on joint advocacy efforts targeted Nigerians in diaspora.

Mortgage products

While calling on financial institutions to start re-developing sustainable mortgage products for Nigerians living abroad the experts recalled that  banks like UBA, Union Homes and Afribank offered mortgage products to Nigerians in diaspora in the past.

He noted that countries like Ghana, India, Pakistan, South Africa, The Philippines and Zimbabwe have local mortgage products for their citizens living abroad.

“Inflow from Nigerians in diaspora is the heart of the relationship between migration and national development. A lot of Nigerians in diaspora have substantial financial assets over and above their income – these include savings, retirement accounts, real estate, investment in stocks & bonds,” he said.

Source : Nigerian Tribune