Housing experts are of the opinion that investment from Nigerians in the diaspora is one of the major factors sustaining the Nigerian real estate sector, despite the present economic challenges.

According to them, Nigerian real estate has been easily attracted to diaspora investors due to readily available funds to invest back home.

Professor of Estate Management Science at the University of Lagos, Gbenga Timothy Nubi and the past President of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Mr Chucks Omeife, made this disclosure to Nigerian Tribune, when interviewed in Lagos.

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Professor Nubi pointed out that one thing going well for the country is that an average Nigerian, especially an average diasporan loves the country so much.

According to him, whoever travels today has a mind of coming back, adding that the “home sweet home” is on the lips of every Nigerian that no matter how long, they see every other place as the farm but the home as a resting place.

“So you see Nigerians preparing for where they will come back to and that’s why young and old, they always invest, they want to have home here so that anytime they return there’s always a place for them to stay,” he said

This day, the professor of housing, said that investment opportunity has made it possible that if one is not around, there won’t be any need to lock the house up, but let it out in exchange of money.

“That’s actually an incentive. Gone are the days that you have the house and only use it when you come for Christmas or any ceremony. Now if you have it, you can always lease it out, short-let and all the rest.

“So that actually explains why there are more people that are interested in having properties here,” Nubi said.

According to him, the cultural value, passion for neighbours, and the need to have something homeland constituted driving forces that made the diaspora to be interested.

“I want to say, we have to appreciate them because I am in this sector and I know that for many years now, the economy and the construction industry have been fueled and sustained by this form of investment.

“The local economy has been struggling for many years, you find out that many people that have the purchasing power ,those are the people from diaspora. There’s no way we can say that their contribution is insignificant. It is actually seriously significant instead of seeing them as people fueling price and all the rest,” he said.

According to him, Nigerians should see people in the diasporas as a sector that is complimentary and sustaining real estate sector as they are bringing their money through remittance, while people are buying or building for them.

“They are not in anyway responsible for high cost. If there’s anything, there’s drop, as the prices are increasing so the ability to actually invest back, and as the money is actually loosing it value here, it is challenging for them to really put their investment here.

“Let’s say you buy a property for N150 million, that’s about 100,000 pounds, and then you are expecting a return with the depreciated naira value, it is so very unattractive for them now because whatever you earn, by the time you convert it to pounds for them to really feel like they are having return on that investment, you just find out that it is just nothing,” he said

For Omeife, Nigerians are easily attracted to diaspora investors because they have readily available fund to invest.

Besides, he said that Nigerians were also exploiting the fact that people in diasporas were not conversant with prices of building materials and could increase their profit margin in such transactions.

“The fact that they are not on ground to mount pressure on the developers gives the developers an advantage to work at his own pace. Some diasporians allow developers to manage the properties after completion which is an added income,” he said.

However, the former NIOB president noted that Most properties prices across Nigeria are over-priced.

The reason, he said was based on the notion that “when something is expensive, it translates to original.”

He said “The reason basically is because Nigerians have penchant that what is expensive is better, and this may not be necessarily so.

The major reason for rising prices of housing units, Omeife said was hinged on the aftermath effect of the exchange rate between the local currency and the foreign currencies.

“Those in Diaspora compares cost of housing development in their country of residence with that of Nigeria,” he said

According to him, the diasporians took advantage of the weakness of the local currency, brought in some foreign currencies and got so much naira that they could afford the seemingly high cost of properties.

“The other reason is that due to very bad experiences suffered in the hands of trusted relatives, friends and crooked contractors, they will rather buy off the shelf completed buildings and take possession.

“Those in diaspora will buy any property despite the cost if they can afford it and in a good location. It is this attitude and readiness to buy that has continued to push up the properties prices within the country,” Omeife said.

Nubi, meanwhile, said, “We have been to several part of the world, you will find out that they even have more information, they know about happenings in Nigeria more than those of us living in Nigeria 24/7, they have information, they have cross-checked from you, Oh! we heard this thing is happening in Ibadan, we heard this thing is happening in Abuja, is it true? It will be like those of us living here don’t even know so much. What am I saying; Nigeria is a lucky nation that people are so passionate about, they love the food, they love the culture, they love the weather, so Nigerians always carry Nigerians along with them anytime they travel and they can’t wait to come back.”

“So no matter how long you stay over there, according to our culture, we will always go back to be buried in our place and among our kindred and that’s not too far away from the scripture, from the bible where Joseph, Jacob, Abraham demanded that when they die, they should be gathered with their ancestors in their home. That’s exactly the pattern of an average Nigerian. I’m just saying this to prove that we love Nigeria, we want to live in this country. So you see Nigerians preparing for where they will come back to and that’s why young and old, they always invest, they want to have home here so that anytime they return, there’s always a place for them to stay,” Professor Nubi said.

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