We Have A Plan To House One Million Low-Income Earning Nigerians in Ten Years -Gbadebo Olamerun, CEO, GAFFORD Property & Homes

We Have A Plan To House One Million Low-Income Earning Nigerians in Ten Years -Gbadebo Olamerun, CEO, GAFFORD Property & Homes

Gbadebo Olamerun

GAFFORD Property & Homes as an entity may be relatively young in the real estate and property development sectors; the same, however, cannot be said of its accomplishments in such a short period of time, as its accomplishments are evidently mind-blowing. The outfit is merely in its third year of incorporation, but one of the secrets of its success is that the brain behind it has far and way beyond three years of experience in the sector. Also, getting its priorities right and making integrity a hallmark of its operations are part of the trade secret that gives GAFFORD Property & Homes an enviable penetration into the real estate and property development business.

In this interview session, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of GAFFORD Property & Homes, Mr. Gbadebo Olatunde Olamerun, took time to explain the mission statement of the company, how much ground the company has covered, and the strategy adopted to ensure that the company is sailing high. The articulate individual with a high and commendable knowledge of the real estate and property development sectors speaks about the operations of the outfit and how integrity has been a major factor. While he speaks on the wish of the outfit to see every Nigerian own a home, he emphasizes the outfit’s commitment and intentions to liberating low-income earners by making them house owners, as well as its goal of building one million homes for Nigerians in ten years. In the course of the interesting discussion that saw Olamerun touch on a variety of issues, he commended the President Bola Tinubu administration for making a frantic effort towards creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the real estate and property development markets. In the same way, he extolled the virtues of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State for his leadership qualities and being a forward-thinking leader.

Could you let us into your world?

My name is Gbadebo Olatunde Olamerun, and I am the MD and CEO of GAFFORD Property & Homes. We are into the purchase and sale of land, and we do development, building houses. We build low-cost houses, and we build premium houses. We have been in business for three years. We worked with an organization for over eleven years before we started GAFFORD Property & Homes.

So what has it been like running GAFFORD?

It’s been absolutely phenomenal, and the experience has been intriguing. We are privileged to have built a formidable team that has helped simplify the worth ethics. And we want to say a profound thank you to our customers for their support and belief in our brand. In the last couple of years, especially 2024, the results that we have gotten have been particularly outstanding. We know there is a massive deficit in housing in Nigeria, and as a brand, we are committed to seeing how we can help the state, the federal government, and the local governments solve part of the challenges of the deficit in housing in Nigeria. We know that this is not something the state or federal government can do alone; it requires the contribution and support of private partners and professionals in the business, and our contribution over the years has been extremely phenomenal in reducing the number of people who don’t have homes. We are sure that the way things are going, in the next couple of years, say two, three, four, or five years, Nigeria should be looking at approximately a good number of Nigerians having access to affordable homes.

You talked about affordability; how affordable exactly do you mean?

Yes, our houses are extremely affordable. We are presently doing construction at Epe for one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom bungalows, and the prices range from fifteen million, seventeen million, and twenty-five million naira. We know that fifteen million naira is a lot of money for some people, so we introduced an avenue where you can pay in installments. For instance, I have a customer whose initial payment was one thousand naira (mild smile); the second payment was two hundred and ninety-nine thousand. The third payment she made was fifty thousand. In essence, the picture I am trying to paint is that it’s extremely convenient for her, knowing full well that there is a brand that understands the inflow of her income and that whatever money she has, no matter how little, can do something to build with us. Within twelve to twenty-four months, the house will be ready for her. We also have houses for the middle class; we are presently doing three-bedroom duplexes and four-bedroom duplexes at Ogudu. The price ranges from one hundred and twenty million for the three bedrooms, while the four bedrooms attract one hundred and fifty million naira. In 2022, when we started this project, a house was being sold for eighty million naira, but it has so much appreciated that the same houses that the same people would have bought for eighty million are presently priced at one hundred and fifty million naira, a massive return on investment.

What do you have for people at the top of the class?

Yeah, we also have four-bedroom duplexes at Parkview. We presently have six units, but sincerely speaking, the entire six units have been entirely sold out. Towards the end of the last year, we had only two units left, and each was sold for five hundred and fifty million naira. You know life is about class and capability. However, whatever your class is, GAFFORD Property & Homes has provided a solution with strategic partners to see how you can access the houses within a short period of time and conveniently too. We partner with mortgage homes so that you pay a certain percentage—about fifteen to twenty percent—for the home you want, and the remaining will be paid by the mortgage home. You can pay the remaining for as long as ten years, fifteen years, or twenty years. The initiative could be called a rent-to-own arrangement. A friend of mine lives in Ikeja. He pays 1.9 million naira annual rent, and I ask why you pay such an amount annually when you can come into a strategy with us, add some more money to that 1.9 million naira to make up for the ten or fifteen percent equity, join hands with us, and we will introduce you to a mortgage home that can bring the rest of the money and for the rest of the time that you are paying, maybe ten years or five years that you are paying the rent, and the house is going to be like your own.

Real estate and property operators usually have sweet stories until the public begins to see aggrieved customers come out to make various allegations. Are you different in any way from this narrative?

First, we are an organization that is big on integrity; whatever we say, we keep to it. Secondly, we don’t bite more than we can actually chew, and that is why we are extremely defined by the kind of business we delve into, which lays the foundation. Number one, we do our due diligence on the land we want to buy. There are lands on which the government has placed restrictions. There are lands the government has marked for agriculture, some for rail, some for schemes, and so on, so we do a thorough investigation on any land we are investing in. Secondly, we take our time to make sure that all the documentation the government requires us to do is done; we get involved in them despite the huge amount of investment that it requires to get those documentations. Again, whatever we are doing, we define it properly for our valued customers. Let me use this medium to say that on the 27th of this month, April, we will be doing the allocation of our Epe GAFFORD estate by the special grace of God. We started selling Epe in January 2024, and in three months we are doing immediate physical allocation for all of the customers that have paid, and we are looking at the end of April or May to do the allocation of Eleran Igbe land at Ibeju Lekki. So as we buy, we are doing the allocations, and our customers have the right to go on site and start their development, knowing full well that the more our clients develop the land, the more the land will appreciate.

Do you determine the structure that is erected on your land?

It’s a yes because we are trying to imbibe the culture of the classy people that come in. Our Epe land is free owned area. The first phase is a bungalow, and the second is a two-story building, so if you want to do a bungalow, we move you to the first phase, and if it’s a two-story building, we move you to the second phase, while Eleran Igbe is a mixed structure because the land is bigger than that which we have in Epe. It’s a facility where we will have a shopping mall, a place where, perhaps in the future, we will have a hospital.

Your agenda to help reduce the housing deficit seems to be wrapped around Lagos alone, or do you have estates in other states?

Fantastic! We have close to five hundred hectares of land at Ofada, and we have a lot of people pushing into that. We are also doing a lot with Ogun State. I just returned from Delta State a couple of days ago. We just acquired twenty-one plots of land in Delta State; we want to see how we can attract people from that region as well. We also have a lot of partnerships with friends in Ondo State, Abuja, for a start. Those are the states where we presently have something going on, aside from Lagos. In due time, we hope to spread across the length and breadth of the country.

Compromising the integrity of buildings has put some real estate operators in trouble. How do you handle that area?

In our team, we have professional builders, architects, and surveyors on board. For every piece of land we are building on, the first thing we do is do a soil test, and that will tell us the  height of the building you can put there, and we just reach out to the government to get approval. Our Ogudu project is just a one-storey building because we have to do piling, not rafting, not normal foundation, even for the one-storey building to stand. Ogudu is a highbrow area; land is expensive there, and people would want to build four or five-storey buildings there, but what the soil test tells us is that the land can conveniently accommodate one-storey buildings. We go all the way to be sure the soil can accommodate the structure we want to put on it, and we go that length because our brand has been embedded in integrity and sustainability for a long time.

What are your projections, and what statement is GAFFORD Property & Homes in a haste to make?

Thank you. We can confidently say that in five years, GAFFORD Property & Homes will be one of the leading firms in Nigeria. In fact, we have a strategy that, in ten years, we will have successfully built one million homes for Nigerians. This strategy is to concentrate on low-income earners. The message is that it’s not all about Aso Ebi; we are saying that if you join hands with us, you can be intentional with your low income, and in a year or two, or at most five years, you will have your own house.

Do you have plans to cater for people who become defaulters by not being able to go on with the plan they entered into?

The business is very dynamic, and at GAFFORD, let me share one of our trade secrets with you. We know that all fingers are not equal, so some people would default. For those that would default, the business has been able to calculate their investment and add an investment interest on it for those that may want to take their fund back. So we basically have the strategy that whatever you are giving us, interest will accumulate on it as long as the money has been paid over a year. If the money is less than a year old and you want your money back, we would give you the money less than the administrative cost. So their fund is safe with us if they are able to pull through, and their fund is equally safe with us in the event they are not able to pull through.

It has been noticed that some customers do sell off their allocations even after they finish payment. Do you have a structure for such at GAFFORD?

Yes, we have two major structures in that regard. I will give you an example: we started our Epe land at seven hundred and fifty thousand, and presently, it goes for 1.5 million naira. So if any of our clients want to sell Epe land today, they will get payment in one week because we have less than one hectare left from the third hectare that we have in Epe. So Epe is almost fully subscribed, and people are still buying into it. If a client who bought in January wants to sell now, he would get double what he used to buy in the first place. So it’s not that the money is only secured; there is also a return on investment.

What is your view of the Nigerian real estate and property development market?

I can tentatively say that the government needs to do a lot. In 2007, the deficit of homes was around seven million. I can’t remember perfectly now, and in 2023, we were in the neighborhood of about twenty-something homes in deficit. So even if the government decides to build one million homes every year, it will take twenty-one years for us to be balanced.

And you will be surprised that the last dispensation was unable to build ten thousand homes in eight years. I am excited for the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the trend they are putting in place. The opportunity for real estate and property development in Nigeria is enormous. The cost of materials is skyrocketing, but we also thank the government for nipping it in the bud.

Sometimes in December, we were buying cement for eleven thousand naira, but it’s now between seven and eight thousand. So it shows the government is committed to navigating the challenging period for us, the investors, and the people that are buying into it. There are no better investments as guaranteed as land. And finally, I want to expressly thank His Excellency, the governor of Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for his leadership and his forward thinking.