The technical know-how put into what he does has indeed changed the face of real estate in this part of the world. His business acumen is audacious and has indeed attracted so many genuine investors both in the country and diaspora placed their trust in him having seen a developer with distinct expertise. Adekunle Abdul is the Chief Execitive and Managing Director of Metro and Castle, owners of Metro Homes, he has indeed carved a niche in the industry strategically reducing housing deficit in Nigeria by providing affordable luxury homes for many. This United States trained ECOWAS Youth Ambassador in chat narrated how Metro Homes has evolved in the last 5years and why Lagos State government may be justified in demolishing some illegal buildings.
I was a regular businessman in oil and gas, trading offshore. After sometime, I went to the United States to study Construction Management and General Studies. That’s where I got my expertise in construction and real estates, so I decided to come back home after I got my certification in 2018 to begin a proper housing scheme in Nigeria.
Starting Metro Homes
We came into the market to bridge the gap of housing deficit in Nigeria. We began the journey in 2018. Nigerians in the Diaspora then were always afraid to send money home for investment in real estate, so filling that vacuum was our priority. Our first five goals was to provide 300 housing units and three retail outlets. We have the metropolis square which is our retail arm. What we do there is supermarket. Because if you are doing community development, some things like supermarket, recreational or sport centers need to be provided. The area we based our estates is very good, accessibility to the road is perfect. We also knew then that Lagos State was already planning for the Free Trade Zone and the cost of the land was attractive for community development. We were conscious of the fact that our target was the middle class. At least, we have completed about 80% of our units, which is over 260 in number. If not for Covid-19, we would have met our 5-year target. Two of our retail outlets are fully functional and we are currently building the third one. I bought land in the area for N12 million but now it is selling for N70 million. And we are happy investors appreciate our development drive.
Super Eagles Stars As Clients
Popular personalities like the Super Eagles stars, Ahmed Musa and Olayinka Peters have invested in our housing scheme, buying sizeable numbers of units. Recently Olayinka bought a whole Metro Homes mini-court for his daughter’s birthday. Ahmed Musa bought 21 units in 2019, he acquired another 28 units in 2021. That shows he appreciated our job, hence, he came back to invest with us. This is the fifth year that we came into this area to provide affordable housing for people in the country. We are transitioning into the next phase of our development targets. We are hoping it will get to 500 in the next five years. Metro Homes is also building another sports centre. We collapsed the initial one sitting on a 1200 square metres and now building another on over 4000 square metres with three football pitches and other sports activities centres.
As at the time our ideas were conceived, a 4-bedroom flat was sold for over N30 million but so many factors have changed things. Even developers can’t differentiate what really is affordable now. The cost of building materials now is beyond our control. However, we are still affordable considering what we offer to other developers and our investors are aware of that. It might be a bit difficult for salary earners to acquire our properties at a go, even anywhere around Lekki, Ajah without any form of incentives. That’s why we give rooms for two to three years payment plans. Government need to give people access to funding with single digit interest rate so that people can pay back over a long period of time. If government empowers people with funding, it will translate to huge employment with manufacturers of building materials thereby reducing unemployment rate. House is not something people pay for in one day.
What Metro And Castle Represents
We symbolize community development, our goal is to better all other communities, even the Lekki Phase One , Ikoyi and others. The only drawback we have is funding. We practically depend on our internal strategy to get funds. We haven’t got any credit facilities from any financial institution except one, since we started. Our turnover in a year is huge, so we have to sustain the brand to make people trust us and thus invest in it. It was painstaking in the early years but we had to keep on going. Brand building and trust building are what has kept us. Till date, we do not have one single litigation against us because we do not promise what we can’t give. That is why investors and people keep coming. We are practically the only real estate development company whose office is in the heart of their properties. It will be difficult for you to access most MD’s of real estates but we are readily available. In Metro Homes, we have the capacity to build 1000 units in five years. We run on over 150 staff but the government hasn’t created the purchasing power for the consumers to buy and pay back little by little without much stress.
Real Estate Industry In Nigeria
Real Estates is one of the sectors holding the economy of Nigeria together. I will say that, because over 50% of our clients are in Diaspora and they repatriate dollars back into our economy. The industry has really boostef our economy, that is why the government must look inward to support developers as well as have in place policies to support consumers.
We do have corporate social responsibility that we do. When we got to the environment of our estates it was all bushes. We transformed the environment by engaging the local people on ground, we changed the transport system to make it more convenient and accessible. We bought buses and tricycles for some people which they use to work within. We did set up block-making industry for some people and most importantly half of our employees here live within or at the edge of the community. Our retail stores are filled with people’s children that live within. Like during the #Endsars, some people came here to attack us but the locals around stood up to them, they didn’t allow them to cross our main gate. They know the value of what has been created, so they can’t allow anyone to take them back to square one.
Nigeria And Eco-friendly Building
Though Nigeria has the best weather in building eco-friendly structures, however, the cost of building it is very huge and many people will not be able to afford it. Solar-powered or inverter-structure facilities arr not easy and for a whole community, you can imagine what it will take. When I did research on how countries abroad build eco-friendly houses I realized how much the government is involved in it. In the United States, if you generate electricity with your solar panel, they will buy it from you, so they are putting much incentives to make sure people go eco-friendly. It’s not something an individuals can go into.
Advise To Government
One of the first things is to strengthen the consumers. There is huge need for housing. If we keep on building and consumers aren’t coming how do you balance the market? Demand and supply have to be at equilibrium so that the market can work. There has to be government intervention just the way it is done in more advanced countries. When you meet a certain criteria, the government should be able to assist, especially now that our identity is more documented with the BVN. People that filled our forms on daily basis always asked how long will they have to pay for the house. The market is enormous, what people just need is a good and convenient time like 20 to 25 years to pay.
Omo-onile Issue And Land Use Act
Every country and states have their laws. Many people jump into real estate without knowing the law or what real estate is all about. For us, we make sure we obey all laws and we don’t fall prey of any wrongdoing, that is why our clients trust us more. For example, we built Metro Homes on a land with government approved town-planning layout. That’s where development starts from. Because Lagos State has a master plan, you see trains moving around now, the plan has been there for long. You can’t build on a coastal road or drainage and expect your building to stand. The laws of the land will catch up with you one day. Some houses on Abraham Adesanya will go down due to the 4th Mainland bridge that extends to the place. If you look deep, those houses can’t have government approvals. We have done our due diligence that’s why we don’t have a single issue with Lagos State government. You can even see people with C of O of properties allocated for police station or recreational centres but they have built residential houses there. At the long run they will lose the property.
Security At Metro Homes
When we got here, we made sure the locals were well engaged, because without them, you can’t have a proper security in place. Security is not a one-man show. Apart from the locals, we have the Nigerian Legion, an offshoot of Nigerian military. Many are ex-officers. Wee have the regular armed police force too as well as civil defence officers.