How Sane Is The Craze About Ibeju-Lekki Properties?
The Ibeju-Lekki axis appears to be having the fastest growth of real estate development in Lagos in the last one decade. The reason for this housing and properties growth on the axis is obvious. The establishment of economic and infrastructural projects on that axis that are expected to create massive economic outburst in the area, has driven up development of housing estates there.
The economic projects in Ibeju-Lekki are enormous. There is the mega-size Free Zone, with a deep seaport for very large ships calling. The zone has already attracted over $10 billion investments. There are on-going and proposed industrial developments such as the Dangote Refinery which is expected to be the world’s biggest single-train facility. The refinery is expected to double Nigeria’s refining capacity, largely to accommodate the pressing demand for fuel and export to foreign markets in and out of Africa. A fertilizer plant is also included in the refinery complex, to fully utilize the raw materials released from the refinery.
There is the Lekki International Airport project which was initiated to lessen the pressure on the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMIA) in Ikeja. All these projects are estimated to create about 300,000 jobs and these workers would need housing.
There is also the Pan-African University, the Lekki International Golf Course and Eleganza Industries. The area also hosts several tourist centres, making it easy to take over as the next economic nerve centre of the Lagos Megacity.
However, there are now so many property development firms claiming to have housing projects there and bringing such projects to the market. This has left a mark of some crazy sales and rush for housing investments, amidst an economy on the verge of another recession. Even now, there is the critical need to ensure that every investment decision is the right one.
So, we ask, how justified is the zeal among many Lagosians to invest in properties on the Ibeju-Lekki axis. Is it a good deal? How can estate developers ensure that slums are not inadvertently created in the Ibeju-Lekki area, since buying land there is now an all comers business? How can people watch out for dubious developers?
There are already empty properties in Ikoyi and Victoria Island begging for occupancy. Won’t this growth on the Ibeju-Lekki axis lead to excess supply of properties? How competitive is the pricing regime of lands on the Ibeju-Lekki axis?
Also, concerns are already brewing over poor road networks in that axis. With the massive economic programmes on the axis, there is only a single carriage way connecting the area to the state’s current business hub, Victoria Island. As a breeding port city, now is the best time to nip in the bud a similar problem as now being experienced in Apapa.
Ibeju-Lekki properties, good deals
But with glaring road network problems, experts say Ibeju-Lekki properties are great deals. They say Ibeju-Lekki is the “new Lagos.”
“Property in Ibeju Lekki will always be a good deal, especially now. Ibeju-Lekki is the future of Lagos State because of economic establishments in the area such as Dangote Refinery, the Deep Seaport , Airport and the Trade Fair Complex, among others,” says ESV Niyi Olagoke, of Niyi Olagoke Consulting, a firm of Real Estate Surveyors and Valuers.
“The area has great future prospects. The huge industrial revolution taking place in Ibeju-Lekki means that the area is about to experience population outburst,” says Alams Chukwunonso of Conquerors Homes Limited, one of the real estate development firms currently building estate and selling lands in Ibeju-Lekki.
According to Chukwunonso, a good estates developer believes more on value creation and that is what will make the difference between Ibeju-Lekki and Apapa, Lagos premier port city now wrecked with permanent traffic gridlock that has seen property values dwindled in the area in the last 10 years.
The Ibeju-Lekki development brings a unique opportunity for low and medium income earners to own properties, as they are able to key into the opportunity early. However, many of such investors run the risk of subscribing to estates that may not exist. Some developers trying to play smart could be marketing estates for which they have not acquired land, or perfected documentations. Past events are evident about such moves backfiring sometimes. Realtors advise real estate investors to always go for developers with strong and proven track records.
“People should know the estate development company well before buying lands from them and this requires they must not be in a hurry to sign up. Our company, Conquerors Homes Limited offers our investors every necessary information and we are available to take them to the estate site whenever they are ready. Any developer who has a genuine project should be able to show their subscribers who they are paying for,” Chukwunonso explains.
ESVs must lead the Ibeju-Lekki real estate market – Mutiu Balogun & Co
Estate Surveyor and Valuer Mutiu Ogenetega Balogun, Managing Director, Mutiu Balogun & Co says real estate investors should deal with developers with good repute.
He says, “People wanting to buy lands in new developments on the Ibeju-Lekki axis should not patronize developers because they printed fliers and are sharing on the streets, no. Investors should deal with people with track records.
“This is why I keep calling on Estate Surveyors and Valuers to take charge of the Ibeju-Lekki property market. There are so many people not trained getting involved and we will just be followers if we don’t get involved first and take the lead.”
Describing the Ibeju-Lekki as “the new Lagos,”Balogun adds, “A lot of middle class Lagosians are pulling to buy low-cost housing. If ESVs take the backseat, it’s a problem. These other people who are not professionals are up and doing, going to the banks and obtaining loans and mortgages. They go to “omonile”and do the needful, perfect the titles and make it an estate and invite us to come and sell it for them. No, it should be the other way round.”
Inadequate planning always leads to growth of slums in areas with high economic activities. There are fears that slums could develop on the Ibeju-Lekki axis with the current rush. But the experts say with strict enforcement of regulations by the state government, the “new Lagos” can have clean neighbourhoods all through.
“The government will have to be strict with regulation, monitor developers and make sure that they obey regulations. Everything has to meet set standards. That is why involvement of experts is very important. All building experts need to come in—and this also includes the town planners and the surveyors,” says Balogun.
ESV Olagoke also adds, “Developers must follow all planning laws and regulations to the later. Subscribers must consult experts that will guide them in the process of buying land so as to know if it is unencumbered.”
A call to government to open the roads
As good as the Ibeju-Lekki property market sounds, there is a clear problem crying for a solution. The road to Ibeju from Ajah, measuring about 40 kilometres remains on a low status with single carriageway on both ways. For a budding city to take the status of “a new Lagos,” a true highway will need to run through the Ibeju Lekki Axis. This will also ensure that the mistake in Apapa is not repeated in Ibeju-Lekki.
“We must maintain the road network from Lekki Phase 1 all through to the end of Dangote Refinery. A good road network is key to development and easy accessibility,”Olagoke notes.
“The government is trying to do palliative works on the road. The fact is the road to Ibeju-Lekki has a lot of setbacks and is currently not sufficient. It badly needs to be expanded as we have from Lekki to Ajah,”says Balogun.
As the frenzy of investment continues in Ibeju-Lekki, amidst the obvious prospects of fast development, it will require all players to make the city a clean habitat. While the real estate firms developing estates in the area must obey regulations, the public sector would have to see that these regulations are clear and enforced. It is also heavy on the government to build the required size of road infrastructure to take the weight of the development now growing on the axis.