Can we meet you, sir?
My name is Henry Nwakanma. I am the founder and CEO of Mobilepoint Properties, which is currently one of the fastest growing real estate development firms in Abuja.
How Did you get into real estate, did you study it in school?
I didn’t study it in school. Real estate was more of a passion thing for me. It is something I love doing. I started out as a rental agent in the real estate sector about two decades ago. Then I graduated into a major player in the sale of houses, I gradually transmuted into an astute estate developer. I have been able to amass tremendous knowledge in the real estate sector and beyond, from the administrative aspect, to sales and marketing, the technical know-how, team building, people and leadership skills, the list goes on. I am also an avid learner. I believe so much in personal development, I see life as a learning journey, the moment you stop learning, ignorance sets in.
Why do you think people should invest in real estate?
Real estate is one of the major human necessities, we cannot do without it; we are currently conducting this interview in a building. Secondly, I am yet to find a wealthy man who doesn’t have a sizeable investment in real estate. It is one of, if not the safest and surest form of investment, and a good vehicle to creating generational wealth. Also, it’s a good hedge against inflation. There are enormous benefits to investing in real estate, the list goes on and on.
How can we address the national housing deficit in Nigeria?
I get this question a lot. In 1991, we had a housing deficit of about 7million. We currently have a housing deficit of over 22million housing units and counting, that’s a mind – boggling figure. The numbers have risen exponentially over the years. This matter has to be addressed swiftly. The last time I checked, Nigeria’s housing production is at 100,000 units annually. This is for a country of over 200million people with an annual growth rate of 3.5 per cent. If the right measures are not put in place, it will take us a lifetime to solve the housing problem in Nigeria. We need to be producing over a million housing units annually to stand a chance of saving Nigeria from such an enormous number in housing deficit.
To help mitigate these numbers, strong collaborations from both the government and private sector is imperative. Having the government setup policies & partnership to help facilitate and encourage the right individuals and institutions to take up pivotal roles in the industry to help mitigate this number in the near future. We need to establish and implement viable mortgage systems that will enable middle- income and low-income earners acquire houses. Providing tax incentives, or grants to credible estate developers will go a long way. Making funds available at single digit interest rate will help mitigate the cost of housing units and in turn make it easier for mid and low-income earners to acquire properties.
As a real estate developer, what are the challenges you have encountered in Nigeria?
The challenges are enormous, from funding, to fraud, exponential rise of building materials, to credible human resource, government policies; the list goes on, but I welcome them. The greater the challenge, the bigger the reward. I am not one to focus on the problem, I see it as a waste of my mental strength; I will rather focus on solving the problem. I am a solution-oriented person.
Real estate in Nigeria seems to be an all-comers affair, with several cases of massive fraud, how can this be mitigated?
True, very true. This is where I will advise the general public; before the purchase of any property, you must conduct your due diligence professionally and extensively.one of the basic problems of people generally is impatience. People are not patient enough to verify documents of properties the intend to buy. I encourage intending investors to go to all the relevant government agencies to verify these properties. From Area Councils to AGIS. Abuja has lesser numbers when compared to other parts of the country as the appropriate bodies, AGIS and all have done a good job in digitising and imbibing the right policies and structure to help mitigate fraud, although there is always room for improvement.
Since coming into the industry, there might be some specific issues you are not pleased with, would you like to address some of them?
That will definitely be the issue of substandard constructions taking place in the industry. This has a ripple effect on the image of the industry at large. At Mobilepoint Properties, integrity and quality are two core factors we will never ever compromise on. I habitually tell my team members that integrity will take you to the top and sustain you there.
It is often said that if one works hard, he should also play hard, how do you relax?
I try to travel abroad on vacation. Also, I read in my spare times, I think and spend time with my family. These are my major ways of relaxing.