In recent times, Nigeria has witnessed a massive migration of its citizens to developed economies due to the unfavourable economic conditions in the country. This brain drain has affected various sectors of the Nigerian economy, with many seeking better opportunities elsewhere. Josephine Ogundeji delves into how the real estate industry can provide opportunities for those who have migrated out of the country.
The trend of Nigerian youths migrating out of the country has given rise to the term "japa," which means escape. This phenomenon is a result of the economic hardship and insecurity in Nigeria, prompting many to seek greener pastures in other countries.
According to the Nigeria Social Cohesion Survey, seven out of 10 Nigerians are willing to relocate to other countries, making the japa syndrome a cause for concern. The country is losing skilled professionals, including doctors, nurses, tech experts, and teachers, among others.
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors reported that approximately 50% of Nigerian doctors had migrated to developed countries, and the University College Hospital Ibadan confirmed the trend, stating that over 600 clinical workers had resigned and left the country. More recently, the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital revealed that over 150 nurses had resigned to pursue their careers abroad.
The high rate of unemployment in Nigeria has been a significant contributor to the japa syndrome. In 2020, the country's unemployment rate was 33.3%, and KPMG projected that it might rise to 41% in 2021.
Olusegun Ladega, the CEO of Interstate Architects, stated that the mass migration of Nigeria's labour force has hindered the growth of skilled youths. However, the real estate industry can provide opportunities for those who have migrated out of the country, particularly in the areas of property acquisition, development, and management. By taking advantage of these opportunities, Nigerians can still invest in the country's real estate sector despite living abroad.
According to Adepoju, many people travel abroad without any plan, thinking that things will get better for them once they arrive. However, this is like gambling because he has had people overseas call him, wishing to come back to Nigeria. He believes that it is now the time to take advantage of the opportunities in the Nigerian real estate industry, as there may be nothing left upon returning from abroad. Those who remain in Nigeria will leverage these opportunities, while Japa (leaving the country) is not an escape route, but an advanced form of slavery. Adepoju advises that a cat in Nigeria cannot be transformed into a tiger abroad, and it is what you take with you that will manifest success. He believes that people like him, who have a resilient spirit, should be considering traveling abroad, unlike some young people who think traveling abroad is just for pleasure. He also notes that if one is not successful in Nigeria, there is no guarantee of success abroad.
Adepoju suggests that the money spent on traveling abroad could be invested in the Nigerian real estate sector, yielding better returns. He states that there are many opportunities in the real estate industry, as it is one of the industries where you do not need cash to start. His company recently sent the sum of N750,000 to one of their marketers because she sold and earned her commission on a transaction. The marketer only had to market their lands and ensure they got sold. Adepoju suggests that partnering with a credible real estate company and helping market their products could be a viable option.
Additionally, starting a blog on the industry and targeting those in the diaspora who want to invest in Nigeria could be fruitful. As long as integrity and consistency are demonstrated, people will trust you, as integrity draws people to want to buy what you are selling.
Adepoju recommends land banking, which involves buying land and keeping it for a few years. It could be ten acres, and the land will continue to appreciate in value because land never depreciates, and shelter never goes out of date. Collaborating with friends to buy plots of land together, getting valid documents, and leaving it for two to three years could also generate revenue. Co-investing with people you trust is essential.
Similarly, Adeyemo believes that there are numerous opportunities in the real estate industry, but most of the youth in the country lack the patience to explore them. The business of real estate is all about consistency, which is where most of the youth get it wrong. Consistency and patience are necessary to sell a plot of land to someone. Adeyemo believes that real estate can be started with zero capital by doing research on viable real estate investors, posting their lands frequently, and finding people to patronize. Once the land is purchased, you get your commission. To push the market, integrity and consistency are essential because people need to be able to trust you. Your brand may need to be authenticated by some people watching for some years.
According to Charles Chiemezie, a real estate practitioner, real estate is a gold mine that many people are too lazy to explore due to the time it takes to generate revenue.
In the pursuit of opportunities in the real estate industry, hard work is crucial, according to a real estate expert. He suggested that interested individuals can start as independent realtors by partnering with property developers to sell their properties and earn commissions. Alternatively, setting up a real estate firm that offers property sales, leasing, property management, rentals, and other services is also a viable option. Investing in personal properties for rental income or purchasing undeveloped land, developing it into an estate, and reselling it for a good return is also an opportunity.
To ensure sustainability, it is important to familiarize oneself with the necessary documents, according to a report by Mixta Africa titled "Real Estate in Nigeria." Working with reputable real estate companies with a proven track record, investing in areas with potential for development in the near future, avoiding environmentally toxic areas, considering the location's infrastructure to prevent flood damage, and exploring mortgage products to finance purchases are important considerations. Off-plan properties tend to be cheaper than already built ones, and diaspora investors can also consider alternative financing options such as rent-to-own schemes. Legal counsel is recommended during real estate transactions.
Therefore, instead of investing a huge amount in migration, one can invest in the real estate sector for a good return.