There is a need to inject integrity into the real estate sector — Onasanya
The Address Homes is changing the face of luxury property development in Nigeria by offering homes that combine high class contemporary architectural design with high standard finishes. The company’s Founder/Chairman Mr. Olabisi Onasanya spoke to selected property editors about what the company does differently, its products and other ongoing projects. DAYO AYEYEMI was there
Why are you in real estate?
We didn’t venture into The Address Homes to make money, even though every business is designed to make money. The real intention, for me, is to allow us to do something different from what the previous real estate players and players were doing.
We believe it is necessary to inject some integrity into the real estate industry. We also sometimes felt that the quality was a bit lacking and that it is necessary to do things mainly to a certain level of international standards, regardless of where you are. We wanted to get into the industry and put in place structures that we can call houses, not homes. These are homes that will rival the best you can see outside the country, and yet without breaking the bank in affordability or affordability. We see people trying to move from overseas – Canada, the United States of America (US) and Europe. There is a minimum standard of living to which they are accustomed. They like to enter a house and there are basic things that they look to see, the environment that they also like to see. We found that these were lacking to some extent. We wanted a situation where you live in the address houses and are proud of the small offer. That’s what we believe in.
Have you done these things you’re talking about?
We have tried our best but we still believe that we will continue to improve. I will share the story of one person in particular, a client who moved his family from overseas and purchased land in Banana Island where he wanted to build. But while it was being processed, he went to one of our estates and he liked what he saw. The project was under construction and decided to buy one. While he was staying there to build his personal home, he settled his family there. The estate is our flagship project – first project around the Femi Okunnu area, which has a swimming pool, gym, security, recreation area with basketball, and its kids in have fallen in love. There are so many movies now being shot in some of our areas. So they fell in love with the estate and all attempts to relocate them to Banana Island failed. You know what; we always make our home prices affordable.
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How much did he pay?
I can tell you that we are more competitive in terms of price, but above all, we are very flexible. We allow people to dictate to us within the time frame how they want to structure their payment during construction. Often people have asked us about the payment plan. When they discussed it, I would say what is important is that you spread the payment throughout the construction project. Let us know what works for you and adjust accordingly, as your cash flow is different from mine, and we’ll fix it. We had a situation where we finished the project and people were having trouble making the final payment. They made a special request to us to allow them to move into the property without making payment. Of course, we don’t give them the title.
How do you cover your risk when the buyer has not yet fully paid before moving into the house?
We do this by not allowing you to have title to the property. All of this endeared us to a few people who had the opportunity to interact and enjoy the services we offer. So when I see these things it makes me proud and that’s what I set out to accomplish. In doing so, we have also succeeded in helping to close the housing gap. Currently, we play in the middle market segment – middle income people. At present we have both underway and completed over 250 units of homes, and still counting. I mentioned why we are different. We are not making noise and we are not saying that you have to go broke to access our services. In every estate we’ve built, we don’t just hand you the keys, we follow you with the addition of our facilities management to make living in those estates very convenient and conducive. We have also provided warranties of a minimum of five to 10 years on the structure so that if anything happens to the windows and doors, we take responsibility. We provide you with 24 hour electricity, CCTV, security, water and others.
Can we know some of the completed and ongoing projects?
You will see some of our flagship projects but two of our projects that are currently under construction are the Luxuria on Alexandra Road in Ikoyi and the Dan and Dan Apartment on Banana Island.
Luxuria is a development consisting of 58 units in total, of which almost 50 are typical maisonettes. When I say playhouses, there’s a reason we do things differently. First, we discovered that people live in apartments. Developers have built apartments, but we also found that when you live in apartments, certain elements of privacy are denied – you walk out of your bedroom, into your living room. People who have lived abroad are used to multi-level structures. We chose to do things differently. I was having a discussion with an architect and he told me what he observed in this environment was that people were building apartment blocks and then putting them on top of the penthouse apartments. And I said that it is these penthouses, which are very few, that are sold first. People are willing to pay any amount of money for services. Why can’t we make a project where every apartment looks like a penthouse. If you go to Luxuria you will see the massive space we have on two levels. It comes with two kitchens, meaning Madame has a reserved house while allowing the chef to use the other space; two lounges, a bar area, a swimming pool, etc.
How do you ensure the construction of standard housing in your development?
We have a work plan. We also ensure that the plan does not place more emphasis on speed of completion. It is a process; a quality assurance process is also involved and consultants (local and foreign) are involved. We must register at every stage of the project and we would choose not to truncate any part of that. We are currently on the fourth floor of Luxuria. The approval we have is for 14 floors and we are slow but delivering good quality work. We also have what we called Dan and Dan Apartments on Banana Island. We have one at Ikoyi Crescent, which is a joint venture with Wemabod Estate. It will be completed by the end of this year. We have other projects in the works. There is development at Ikeja GRA, which has not started yet. We also have others in Ikoyi. This will contribute about 101 housing units in South West, Ikoyi.
In terms of strategic direction, we’ve had comments that only the rich and the affluent can have access to our homes. We plan to drop a bit to a slightly lower segment. Somewhere around Ajah we have around 75 hectares of land to develop apartments and townhouses to enable people who cannot afford access to their homes. The beauty of partnering with Address Homes is that no matter where you find our estate, the quality of finish is always the same, while the location is different.