In our previous article on the Nigerian Mortgage System, we looked at some of the Mortgage systems in Europe and established that the low interest rates and long repayment periods are major success factors to their homeownership statistics with a growing ratio of millennial homeowners. Conversely, the relative growth rate in Nigeria is not as rapid due to low accessibility and affordability of commercial mortgage facilities.
The Federal Government in 1994 had instituted the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria as the apex Mortgage institution in Nigeria and through the National Housing Fund (NHF) charged it to mobilise funds for the provision of “affordable” residential houses for Nigerians. While the macroeconomic indices are a major culprit for declining purchasing power in Nigeria, the questions then arise – Is NHF fulfilling affordable homeownership? How many young working Nigerians/Millennials stand a chance to benefit? Does the NHF generate sufficient funding to galvanise its key objective? What is the forecasted funding demand of Nigerians compared to the maximum funds possible from the 4 sources, is there a projected deficit or surplus? How accessible are these funds? What criteria determine eligibility? What flexibilities are built into the system to make the NHF easier and faster to access than the typical financing options?
The NHF act instituted that funding will be generated from –
● Mandatory contribution of 2.5% of monthly income of Nigerians earning N3000 and above per annum
● Investments from Commercial banks/Merchant banks - 10% of loan and advance portfolios at a 1% premium on interest payable on current accounts held by banks
● Investment from Insurance companies - 20% and 40% of Non-Life and Life insurance respectively
● Contributions from the Federal Government
Obviously, every earning/working Nigerian earns above N3,000 annually. With a minimum wage of N30,000 monthly, 40 % of which is estimated as basic salary, it is assumed that the NHF annual mandatory contribution should be a minimum of N3,600 per contributor. According to the WorldBank, Nigeria’s labour force in 2021 was estimated at 64.4 million people. If NHF gets a minimum of N3,600 from 64.4 million Nigerians, it will have generated a minimum of N232 billion annually from 1 of its 4 sources of funding.
Commercial banks in Nigeria lent out ₦18.9 trillion in May 2020 and typically lend an average of ₦15 trillion MoM according to the June 2020 monetary policy communique of the Central Bank of Nigeria. If 10% of N15 trillion is invested at a 1.1% rate of return per month (1% + current account maintenance charge of N1 per mille), it brings to about ₦198 billion potential annual contribution to the NHF from commercial banks alone. While details of investments from insurance companies and the government are sketchy, from the information above there is a potential minimum funding pool of +N430 billion annually.
Compared with these forecasts, the actual annual realised contribution is much less than 20%. The Managing Director of FMBN reported that the total contribution realised between 2017 and 2021 was an average of N54 billion annually between 2017 and 2021, a significant improvement on the N232 billion that was mobilised from NHF contributors over a 25-year period at an average of N9.28 billion annually. In 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria reported that an estimate of N21 trillion is required to fund Nigeria's Housing Deficit of 20 million homes. This was based on a population estimation of 200 million. With Nigeria’s growing population and inflation, this estimate will have grown geometrically. In a nutshell, the funding gap is very clear.
The funding requirement is far bigger than the funding supply. What this implies is that the National Housing Fund does not have a sufficient fund pool to provide affordable housing funds to meet everyone’s need. Of course, as with other economic resources, scarcity brings about the need for prioritisation and choice. The NHF has put in place a set of criteria/ requirements for loan application which are:
- The applicant must show proof of deducted monthly contributions remitted to FMBN promptly (At least 6 months contributions should be made).
- The applicant's Passbook is expected to be updated by an employer and is transferable from one employment to the other.
- The applicant’s yearly statement of cumulative contributions plus accrued interest. (The higher your contribution volume, the higher the probability of being considered).
- Application must be through an accredited Primary Mortgage Bank (PMB).
- The applicant must provide satisfactory evidence of regular income.
Looking closely at these requirements, young Millennials in Nigeria have a much lower chance of accessing funding for homeownership compared to developed countries. The requirement of income regularity and updated passbooks put younger people at a disadvantage. There have been reports where employers had deducted contributions from staff salaries but not remitted to the NHF. Also, contribution volume as a basis of consideration (which naturally favours the older people who have worked longer) makes it even more difficult and further difficult for the growing portion of millennials who are self-employed, working freelance in the informal sector or in startups.
With the economic status of the country, many millennials are unemployed and hence are unable to fulfil the eligibility requirements. According to data from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, 13.9 million Nigerian youths were unemployed by the end of 2020.
Overall, the NHF framework provides a very efficient vehicle that can help Nigeria close the housing deficit. The success of this however is consequent on some policy shifts through continuous consultative process to inculcate changes in demographics, income scales, economic indices and industry trends. We can learn from thriving Mortgage Systems like the examples in Europe and America on inclusion for their young people.
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