Housing is very key to human existence. Marslows hierarchy of needs ranks housing as key on the needs of man.
Most people start off with the leasing accommodation and progress to home ownership. In fact, the level of home ownership in a country is an indication of its level of development.
Home ownership statistics indicate that in Nigeria it is less than 20% as against 84% Indonesia, 75% Kenya, 56% South Africa, 68% Canada and 63% United Kingdom.
The issue is that many Nigerians desires to own their own homes rather than face the challenges of renting with its many uncertainties – poorly built homes, high rents, uncertain and unfavorable lease terms etc.
The question of home ownership can be improved in Nigeria but this requires a concerted effort with good policies by the governments in power. Basically, the solution has to be one that is all encompassing and permeates the entire fabric of the Nations policies – social and economic.
Several things can be done to ease home ownership and these include.
– Improve access to land. Today all land in Nigeria is vested in the Federal and State Governments to administer according to the Land Use Act of 1979. This has made access to land tough, cumbersome and political.
A major solution would be to amend a lot of obnoxious aspects of the Act of 1979 in line with the realities and dictates of present-day Nigeria and its development goals.
– Provision of infrastructure. Once access to land is improved the Government must regard the provision of services and infrastructure as their responsibility to enable cheaper housing and view their investment in these as one that will be recouped long term. If land owners or developers engage in infrastructural provision it increases the cost of homes and makes it further out of reach of prospects. Research shows that provision of infrastructure and services in a new layout can account for 35 – 40% of home price.
– Availability of long-term finance – mortgages at reasonable interest rates. This requires a reworking of our financial infrastructure and growth in Gross Domestic Product to encourage and encourage more savings by Nigerians.
– Research into building cheaper housing – i.e. Cheaper, locally available materials with lower maintenance costs will make housing production cheaper and more affordable.
– With better access to land and the amendment of the Land Use Act 1979, access to title to land that actually secures ownership becomes easier and at the same time it is easier to pledge same with financial institutions for credit or mortgage facilities.
These are just a brief summary of some of the actions that can be undertaken by the Government to facilitate home ownership in Nigeria. As can be seen from this write-up the driver for such an objective remains, the Government and their introduction and implementation of people oriented policies which will in effect create the enabling environment for all round growth and development.