Lady Realtors Demystify Real Estate Investment For Womenfolk | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Lady Realtors Demystify Real Estate Investment For Womenfolk

Posted: Aug 4, 2015 at 1:03 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Nkasiobi Oluikpe,  Lagos


Not too long ago, Deloitte, one of the largest global professional services network, published that in 2014, Nigeria attracted N780 billion in real estate development. Corroborating this statistics, the Africa Housing Finance Yearbook of 2014, recorded that Nigeria represents a potentially huge market for housing developments and mortgage.

But according to statistics and glaring evidences, despite accounting for more than 50 per cent of the population of the country, the percentage of women keying into this progressive development as against their male counterparts is unimpressively low. Though not limited to real estate investment alone, women are said not to be aggressively brazing up to the much publicized marginalization outcry in their favour.

While concerned observers are of the opinion that the Nigerian government is not doing enough to assist this set of mortals,  who have been historically placed at the background by cultural restrictions, private organizations, individuals and groups, had in their various capacities putting up training programmes to uplift them.

One of these training programmes was recently organised by The Lady Realtors, sponsored by the Assist-2-Sell Properties Limited and proudly supported by the US Consulate General in Lagos, (which has been at the forefront of assisting the girl child), and in association with the African Women in Real Estate.

The theme of the programme is: Demystifying Real Estate Investment for Women. The programme, which presently runs on a monthly basis, was initiated by Rhonda Watson, the Public Diplomacy Officer of the US Consulate.


Concern on gender matters

As a way of getting participants ready for the programme, through the slides, Chimamanda Adichie, a prolific award winning writer, stated that because there was a great injustice to gender matters everywhere in the world, it is high time to begin to dream and plan about a fairer world.

In her address to participants, the Acting Consular General of the US Embassy, Dehab Ghebreab, explained that in the United States, owning a home is a great part of the culture. Right from college, students begin to plan to own a home. Nigerian women, she stressed, should aspire to own their own houses, as well.

One of the speakers, Ibiene Ogolo, the Chief Responsibility Officer of Eko Development Company Limited, spoke on the topic ‘Which Investment Property Should a Woman Start Off With’.

According to Ogolo, because different types and locations of real estate investment appeal to different income levels, starting up from the suburb and growing into the urban might be a wise decision. This, she defined as progressive investment.

Advising women to be truthful to themselves and trim down the excesses of their spending culture so as to be able to contribute to the bottom line, she remarked: “A woman financially independent, is a nation independent.”

For Ifenyinwa Ighodalo, who spoke on the topic ‘Acquiring Real Estate with your Spouse’, understanding your spouse and sharing your vision with him is very fundamental in marriage.

Ighodalo advised participants on understanding their long and short term investment plan, as well as setting aside their investment capital, save and limit their liquid cash to necessary expenditure.

She also added: “Decide on whether to buy jointly or singly as a couple. Just decide on what is better for you and gives you peace of mind. Try to understand the nature of the property you are investing on.

“Do not shy away from legal/consultancy fees, even with a bona fide property. Find out if liabilities exist in the property. Conduct a physical inspection of the property; file documentation with the state government and appoint an investment manager, if the investment is for rental.”

Explaining further, she said it is never too early or too late to start, and it’s never a total loss as long as it is not dud property. However, as marriage is a partnership, so also is investment! “Talk, share and plan!  Invest and do not leave your money in the bank. Always have a ‘can do’ attitude; do not rent, when you can buy. Be a partner, bring a lot to the table and leave a legacy,” she concluded.

The only male among the speakers, Kunle Carew, a legal practitioner by profession, pointed out that men who frown at real estate acquisition by their spouses are myopic and unconscious of the massive improvement that womanhood has recorded.

He categorized the reason why men would frown at real estate acquisition by their spouses into three subheads, namely psychological factors, religious misunderstandings and cultural factors.

Explaining religious misunderstanding, he disclosed that people have always used scriptural justifications to promote individual actions. The Holy Bible and Holy Quran portrayed women as the weaker sex and enjoined them to be submissive to their spouses. The term submissive, he remarked, have been misinterpreted as suppression by most men.


Clamour for financial independence

According to Carew, when a woman sees financial independence, the man sees loss of power, abdication of authority and control. “They know their weaknesses and allowing women to help them in that weakness, most times, amount to challenging their ego.

Cultural factors, more than anything else, he indicated, has played the greatest role in discouraging real estate acquisition by women, as they were expected to look up to their husbands for everything they needed. They are not considered human enough to have proprietary rights and some women in the ages past, were considered as properties to be confiscated to offset family debts.

He stated further: “Happily, western education and enlightenment has now evolved the world to a point whereby women are now seen as equals with men; they are even said to be a stronger gender than men.  Educated husbands now realize that the financial freedom of their spouses ease their own economic burden.”

However, he admonishes thus:  “I believe that the woman needs to demonstrate great patience with any husband that now frowns at her acquisition of real estate.  Pre-discussion is advised before the investment decision is made and suggestion of joint-ownership of intended acquisition may assuage the frail ego of such a husband.  Above all, feminine charm, cunning and gentle persuasion, particularly in the matrimonial bedroom, would forever work the magic with men, in the way they did, over the ages, for women of note like Delilah and Queen Cleopatra VII Philopator of Egypt.

The programme, which started in June, is billed to run up till November, 2015, with a target to train about 1,200 women in real estate, both as a career and as business; helping them to achieve financial independence and empowerment.

According to Chukwunonso Ume-Ezeoke, the Chief Executive Officer of Assist-2-Sell, also a legal practitioner and former banker, the next edition will focus on training women on how to make the money for real estate investment. Subsequently, up till the end of the programme, different aspects of real estate topics will be treated.