What was the starting point of Landmark, and how did you become a leader today?
Landmark Corporate Reality was created to bridge a housing gap. Real estate developers were performing below international standards in terms of quality. Another factor is the government's failure when it comes to housing. In other developing countries, governments have intervened in the real estate sector. However, in Nigeria, the government is neither helping nor contributing. As a result, it is up to the private sector meet the shortfall. Companies come here, build low-quality buildings, and then leave. People also lack a vehicle for complaint. I did research and wanted to bridge the gap among low-, medium-, and high-income housing. Once people have adequate shelter, other social advances become possible.
How did you raise the funds to start these operations?
Raising capital was difficult, as financial institutions charge double-digit rates on loans. How can you provide accommodation when taking out a double-digit loan? The price of the property would be too high. I started small with some friends, eventually moving to our own office after having seen gradual growth. We started with six apartments, and then one acre; before we knew it, we were creating large estates, all without government backing. We revert to borrowing money from banks, but today we are still essentially floated on internal equity and have become a large company. To date, we have provided housing for over 1,500 people who pay over a six-month period.
What major projects are you working on now, and what is in the pipeline?
We have several major projects right now. One major project is in Lekki Skim and has a value of NAR10 billion. For 2Q2020, we will be introducing another major project, the Quart Lansing project, a 25-story high rise featuring offices and apartments. The architect is from Dubai, and we are still working on designs. The project will be affordable luxury. Though we are increasingly targeting high-net-worth individuals, we are still working to address the housing crisis. We notice that many people are coming to work from the mainland to the island. We are trying to solve this issue whereby people can live and work in the same place. Lagos is on its way to becoming the second-largest city in the world. We have to plan ahead to cater to the population as there is not much available land in Lagos. Therefore, we are focusing on using the full potential of the land by building high rises. However, we do not want to pass our projects off to consumers at high cost.
Is it profitable to target the low and middle class?
It is profitable, but we are not here simply to maximize profits. We prefer to find a profit point where we can still provide housing for middle-class people in a win-win scenario. The more projects we do in different areas the more people will buy.
How do you find the sector in terms of competition?
Indigenous companies are on the rise, as is competition. However, Landmark is not focused on its competition. For us, there are two real estate companies: Landmark and the rest. We are focused on affordable housing and bridging that gap.
What is the pace of change in bridging this housing gap?
With time, high costs and poorly constructed houses will be phased out. There will be serious massive developments, and people will embrace what Landmark is doing. We want Lagos to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and we have a positive outlook on the industry.
What are your key priorities for the year ahead?
For 2020, my priorities are for every individual to own a house and have a shelter overhead. We want to solve the housing deficit and take people out of these uninhabitable accommodations. We want to solve the housing deficit in Nigeria, and I am optimistic we will get there.