Finding Your Happy Place, Episode 5: Victoria Garden City, VGC

Finding Your Happy Place, Episode 5: Victoria Garden City, VGC

Finding Your Happy Place, Episode 5: Victoria Garden City, VGC

14th April, 2022

2 minutes, 37 seconds read

Developed in the 90s, Victoria Garden City is a highbrow residential area that has remained an attractive place for Lagosians who aim to live in a serene environment. Located along the Lekki-Epe expressway, opposite Eleganza Gardens Estate, VGC seats beside the Lagos lagoon, a good location for nature, and easy accessibility to every part of the Island. VGC is a well-planned estate, and with approximately 213 hectares of land, it combines commercial and residential buildings for the comfort of everyone. Houses in VGC are mostly prototypes, this means that they were developed by the same developer at the inception of the estate.

With a good number of estates in Lagos today, one might want to ask why VGC? Well, the answer is not farfetched. As an estate that has been around for some time now, VGC is known to be highly secure due especially with the HNIs that live there. Asides from the security at the gates, there are patrol vans within the estate that ensure quick response to security threats or breaches. Visitors are well-coordinated and given a tag for easy identification with a clearly marked and differentiated entrance gate from the residents that help to manage traffic jams at the gate while visitors are being accredited.

The estate also provides basic amenities such as playgrounds and recreational centers for kids, schools, health care centers, religious houses, banks, supermarkets, and so on.

When it comes to architectural structures, the estate might not be the most appealing when compared with newer structures that have more modern and trendy designs, however, we cannot but recognize the well-organized structures and optimal layouts of the estate. Every road has a walkway, there is a well-established distance between houses, and the roads are an advantage that many settlements in Lagos state still struggle with due to poor planning and design.

The cost of properties in Victoria Garden City Estate runs well into hundreds of millions of naira as this is a highly sought-after location. If you are looking to buy or rent a property in VGC, you must have the willingness to pay the worth as prices are going up daily. With the market feedback and speculations from analysts, there is an expected surge in the prices of properties and this is expected in this considering that the Lekki-Epe area is in constant development. Some of the factors that make this more desirable are the Lekki Free trade zone, the upcoming Dangote Refinery, the proposed airport at the Epe axis as well as many other new businesses around the area.

Electricity and water supply in VGC are amenities you need not worry about. While EKEDC supplies the estate with electricity, there are also private power generators that supply power to make up for the less than 24hours public power supply. As for water, the estate authorities supply residents with treated water, and the water supply here is metered. VGC is a beauty to behold, the simplicity and well laid out vegetation stand out and give the estate a warm feel of nature.

There are a few downsides to VGC, despite having good layouts one problem that has lingered on for so long in the estate is the issue of the flood, especially at the entrance of the estate. Experts have said that this is due to the topography of the road which has some elevated parts thereby causing water to accumulate whenever there is a downpour. Asides from this, VGC is a great place to live or own a property.

So, if you are looking for a serene environment, secured with basic amenities, VGC is your happy place.



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17th May, 2022

4 minutes, 34 seconds read

Is the Nigerian Mortgage System really aiding home ownership?

All over the world, mortgage is known to be a viable method to owning a home, but several factors have made it difficult for most Nigerians to access mortgages. In developed countries, effective mortgage systems have aided many people to become homeowners but in Nigeria, there have not been many success stories recorded. We looked closely at mortgage models in Europe and America and found that a major enabler of their effective mortgage system is lower interest rates and longer repayment period.  

Two months ago, the U.S. Census Bureau announced a homeownership rate of 65.5% for the year 2021; and in England, the House of Commons stated that 65% of its population were homeowners as at the end of 2020. This is contained in its “Extending home ownership: Government initiatives” report. These countries have single digit Mortgage interest rates – 6% in the United States and about 4% in England. Kosovo, Romania, Hungary, Singapore and Croatia all have home ownership rates above 90% with mortgage interest rates falling below 5%.

These mortgage systems have proven to be very effective, giving opportunities to more  young people; millennials below age 30 to own homes. This is very important to note when you consider that generally, millennials all over the world are finding avenues to increase their incomes, encouraging the “gig economy”, innovations in tech and the benefits of remote work. In 2020, especially during the worldwide lockdowns, we read stories on Twitter about the increase in home ownership rates amongst millennials in countries like the US.

 When we looked at homeownership rates in Nigeria, we saw a sharp difference. According to the “Housing Snap Poll” data by NOIPolls (a Nigerian consultancy company) only 31% of Nigerians as at 2014 lived in their 'personal house' which they may have built, purchased or inherited. This has negatively impacted the purchasing power of the average Nigerian. While this is many years ago, it is arguably true that due to inflation and recession, more Nigerians are poorer today than they were in 2014, and this means that less people can afford to own houses.

But let's come back to the conversation. If mortgage systems have significantly aided homeownership in other climes, why is it different in Nigeria?

Reports say that “85% of people in Nigeria would consider a mortgage as an option for home ownership” but availability, affordability and access are a major problem. Interest rates typically from commercial mortgage providers range between 15% to 25% per annum and up to 30% in some situations. In a bid to provide some respite, FMBN Act 3 of 1992, established the National Housing Fund (NHF) with the sole aim of mobilizing funds for the provision of “affordable” residential houses for Nigerians. In its 5 years of operation, the NHF was only able to disburse to 5,938 beneficiaries. It is understandable that the NHF can only disburse as much as is available in the treasury, there is still a big gap to fill especially with the lingering housing deficit.

What are your thoughts on the issues of the Mortgage system in Nigeria? DO you have any stories or experiences with it? We would love to hear from you. Please send your comments/feedback to [email protected]  

Think we should keep this part for the next article and do more deep dive 

. The National Housing Fund, according to the Act is supposed to come as investments from –

 ·         Commercial banks/Merchant banks- 10% of their loan and advance portfolios

·         Insurance companies - 20% and 40% of Non-Life and Life insurance respectively

·         and contributions from the Federal Government.

 Unfortunately, these numbers fall short of expectations.

When we studied the income and mortgage data for Nigeria, combined with the typical loan requirements of the NHF and other providers within the country, we found that while mortgage is hard to access, millennials in Nigeria also have a much lower chance of homeownership compared to their counterparts in other countries. Steep interest rates, the method of credit rating and qualifying for a loan are major reasons.

The requirements for loan application by the NHF states that:

  1. The applicant must show proof of deducted monthly contributions remitted to FMBN promptly (At least 6 months contributions should be made).
  2. Passbook is expected to be updated by an employer and is transferable from one employment to the other.
  3. Yearly statement of cumulative contributions plus accrued interest. (The higher your contribution volume, the higher the probability of being considered).
  4. Apply through any accredited Primary Mortgage Bank(PMB).
  5. Applicants must provide satisfactory evidence of regular income.

 Looking closely at those requirements, the problems become clearer.

 Unemployment versus Employment in the new work culture

According to data from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, 13.9 million Nigerian youths were unemployed by the end of 2020. Unemployment and underemployment rates also form a combined 55.7%. 

This is not to make a case for granting mortgages to people without employment. When you dig into the Nigerian income data, you will see that most of the employed, especially millennials, are either self-employed, working freelance, in the informal sector or in startups where compliance to points a and b above is extremely low.

It is not only that employment and regularity of income as a requirement puts younger people at a disadvantage, the cumulative contribution yardstick (which naturally favors the older people who have worked longer) makes it even so much harder for Nigeria’s millennials to own a home through mortgages. This extent of being cut off hits deeper among the younger population who are mostly earning entry level salaries.                                                    

Overall, the problem is more structural and fixing it will need a policy focused shift. The guiding regulations are not adapted to current work trends and excludes the sect of those flourishing in other forms of employment like freelancing, start-up structures and such.  A number of lessons can be learned from Europe and America, and in our next article, we will be discussing how other countries have been able to secure mortgage inclusion for their young people.

Are there other innovative ways these issues can be fixed? We would love to hear from you. Please send your comments/feedback to [email protected] 

9th May, 2022

1 minute, 30 seconds read

Lagos Building Collapse - Another tragedy at Ago Palace Way Despite Structural Integrity Measures

Barely a week after a three-story build collapse that killed over ten people in the Ebute Meta area of Lagos state, another building collapsed in the Ago Palace way area of the state sadly leaving behind nothing for the occupants.

The unfortunate incident happened on the 7th of May, 2022 at Chris Agadi Street off Ago Palace way opposite AP Fueling Station.

 

Despite the Lagos State Structural Integrity Test, this menace continues to rock Lagos State and this is worrisome.

 

At the time of this report, the head of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency(LASEMA), Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu confirmed in a statement that no casualty was recorded.

He said; “On arrival, information gathered from the residents revealed that the building gave signs several hours before the building collapsed. Fortunately, nobody was trapped as all the occupants evacuated the area when the signs began 2 hours before the collapse. A headcount of occupants was carried out to ensure no occupants were missing and the remains of the building were cordoned off. The operation was concluded at about 5:23 a.m.” The statement read.

 

Taking learnings from this incident, we believe some questions need to be answered especially in educating the public in managing similar situations. 

What should be done when a building gives signs of collapsing?

Who should be notified and what safety measures should be taken to avoid casualties?

 

The agency added that the site will be handed over to the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Ministry of Physical Planning for further investigation.


While the government and its agencies are making moves on this issue, the big question still looms, “Which building is next to collapse?” “Is this becoming a new normal that we should get used to?”


In addition to the intervention from the Aside the government, real estate practitioners must take lessons rapidly on ensuring and maintaining the structural integrity of buildings. Should there be a nationwide structural integrity certification drive? Do practitioners need to involve an extra layer of testing structural integrity? We must begin to answer these lingering questions.