Real estate practitioners are seeking enabling environment for the implementation of accessible and affordable mortgage rates in Africa.
Speaking at a Pan-African Real Estate webinar series 2024, entitled; Cross border collaboration in promoting real estate practice across Africa, organised by the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Lagos branch, the practitioners made case for future relevance and implication of Artificial lntelligence (AI) in real estate practice, sustainable real estate development in Africa and removal of other critical impediments to free movement of trade and real estate services across the regions.
They called for collaboration on a number of issues affecting the growth of the sector in Africa.
They pointed out that in most countries in Africa, the real estate market challenges are similar with majority of lands without titles, high mortgage, difficult in travelling and getting permit to set up real estate firms in another Africa country and general lack of trust among professionals.
Leading the pack, Mr Chudi Ubosi, the Principal Partner, Ubosi Eleh and Co, a real estate practitioner in Nigeria, called to the professionals in the continent to help governments provide enabling environment for affordable mortgage as issue of high mortgage appears to be a general development in Africa.
He decried the situation whereby mortgage in Nigeria is limited with the way it’s being presented as commercial loans, with rates within the range of 30 to 35 percent and fewer number of years.
He emphasised the need for a change, through collaboration and advocacy by the professionals alongside government to make housing accessible to the citizens as witnessed in advanced countries.
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Abri Group of Companies (Ghana), Mrs Vicky Sampah, observed that mortgage loan in the country is also unaffordable for many, as only those working with the government and private sector benefit while the informal sector is locked out to suffer.
She disclosed that mortgage rate in Ghana is within 12 to 20 percent based on dollar and the local currency (Cedis) rates.
Sampah also said that practitioners in Africa must embrace Property Technology (Proptech) and Artificial intelligence (AI), which she said would enhance real estate agents in listing property and help in proper description of available homes for purchasers.
She added that the technologies will give extra service to make the industry better and won’t threaten available jobs.
Sampah, however, warned that there must be ethical considerations in deploying the tools in real estate activities.
According to her, there is a need to engage in regular discussions, collaboration and actions that are critical to grow Africa real estate sector as well as learn from experiences from the global market. To her, one crucial way to remove impediments to cross border transactions in the sector is through education and advocacy with relevant stakeholders.
Chairman, Governing Council, Real Estate lnstitute of East Africa, Uganda, Mr Vincent Agaba, explained that cooperation, building trust among professionals is key to grow real estate service, adding that this would further help the continent to develop momentum for harmonious legislation that will deepen real estate in Africa.
He lamented the high mortgage rate of 10.5 percent (for foreign currency) and 22.5 percent for local currency) in Uganda.
Vicent said that Uganda has witnessed some growth in Proptech in the area of using the tool to lock out tenants who refuse to pay
According to the Managing Director, Lansdowne Property Group, South Africa, Mr Jonathan Kohler, when politicial landscape in Africa makes it impossible for property investors to travel to do business, it will discourage growth of real estate business and services in the continent. He, therefore, called for easy access to visas for travels, building of relationships and trust among professionals to enhance real estate industry.
He observed that the penetration of Proptech is very high in South Africa, especially in marketing real estate products, property management and cash flow statement. However, he said, people still prefer physical inspections and one-on-one transactions of property.
President of NIESV, Mr Johnbull Amaevbo, expressed concerns that most countries in the continent have refused to sign the AfCFTA agreement on service aspect of the treaty, which seeks to enable free movement of professional services, but agreed to the trading component. He lauded the Lagos branch for organising the forum and the panelists for charting out path to enhance real estate industry in Africa.
Earlier, chairman of Lagos branch of NIESV, Mr Gbenga lsmail, had said the essence of the forum was to enhance cross border relationships among real estate professionals and grow real estate practice across the continent.