Over time, the real estate sector in Nigeria has evolved as a response to opportunities and challenges in an economy that was once valued at $510 billion through a GDP rebasing exercise.
At various levels and in different sub-sectors, investors have deployed capital to do developments that have provided products and created jobs which have had direct and indirect impacts on households, the environment, and the economy, leading ultimately to growth in the real estate business.
In consonance with the swings in the economy, the real estate sector has gone through what could be described as boom and burst. The boom, at a time, was the reason for the revolution that defined activities in the office space and formal retail sub-markets in the sector.
The burst, which has been quite frequent, has always come as a defining moment for both the sector and the players. This explains the rise and fall of many otherwise big developers who have been shoved aside for good and some of their developments left to rats and rodents as owner-occupiers.
At the same time, the burst has helped to throw up resilient and focused players with never-giving-up spirit who have remained in business, not only surviving but also thriving. These are the ones that are changing the narratives, redefining the landscape and skyline of the country’s major cities and, in the process, creating jobs and driving growth in the sector.
At the forefront of these players who, like the sector itself, has evolved over time is Palton Morgan Holdings. This is a real estate investment and development firm whose evolution has been quite phenomenal, giving rise to its subsidiaries that comprise PropertyMart, Grenadines Homes and Oceanna.
Palton Morgan is constantly scaling up its operations by acquiring the required resources and capabilities along the way. To achieve this, it remains focused on its primary lines of business in acquisition, sales, construction and marketing of prime residential properties and superior client advisory services.
The group is, arguably, the most successful real estate development and investment brand led by Nigerians and international teams who delivered the most iconic projects in different parts of the world. The company’s drive for success has apparently led to unswerving knack for detail and uncompromising desire for customer care and satisfaction, in addition to the adoption of cutting-edge technology.
But the authorities of Palton Morgan are worried about the dearth of low-cost housing in Nigeria. They believe that there is something that could be done that can make the delivery of low-cost housing possible contrary to popular views. “Affordable housing cuts across all the segments of the market—high, middle and low. What we did to address these different segments was to break our company into three. We have the one we started out with, that is PropertyMart, still playing at the bottom of the pyramid,” Adeyinka Adesope, GMD, Palton Morgan Holdings, explained to Business Day.
Continuing, he said, we also have the Grenadines Homes and Oceanna as subsidiaries of Palton Morgan specialized in development and construction. Grenadines Homes caters to middle and a bit of high end; Oceanna is in the high-end segment, but we have democratised it to a point where customers who have been with us could have a place there.
The downturn in the economy of Nigeria has put many entrepreneurs, including estate developers, on edge. It is such that, according to close market watchers, an entrepreneur that can sustain a business successfully and profitably in Nigeria under its kind of business environment must be a miracle worker.
“In Nigeria, something must be driving you to remain in business. Then, to grow and continue to expand without being frustrated or discouraged by the contradictions you find in our policies and economy, something more substantial must be driving you,” Adesope explained.
He explained further that, for them as a company, something substantial that is driving them is job creation. “I will, therefore, say that it is creating jobs, redefining the landscape of Nigeria and beautifying the skylines that are really key to some of the things that are driving us as a company,” he said.
Alone, the company knows it cannot create all the jobs or change all the narratives, but it can inspire the movement and sell the right culture which is what they have done with the Oceanna—an iconic development located in Victoria Island, Lagos with breath-taking architecture and arresting façade.
Adesope recalls that before this development, many high-rise buildings in Lagos were like council flats in the UK, but people would call those buildings luxury developments just because they are on 15 floors and located in Ikoyi. Buyers even paid a lot of money to acquire them.
He enthused that with the architecture of Oceanna, they have been able to change the narrative such that, “now, when you come into the market, you see good architecture; people are redefining the skyline with the kind of development we see.”
Most times, in strict economic parlance, the relevance of a business enterprise is measured directly or indirectly by the degree of impact it makes on people and the economy. In this connection, Palton Morgan’s impact has been quite significant.
Given that over 56 lines of trade are involved in the building of a house and that over 500 people are involved in the processes leading to the development and delivery of a single building, the Group Managing Director sees the real estate sector as the largest employer of labour or provider of employment, not Agriculture as most people assume.
“Unlike Agriculture, there is nothing like ‘small scale’ in real estate. A man can decide to set up a farm and manage it with the help of his family or close friends and still produce something substantial. With real estate, there is no such thing as small scale.
There must be an exchange of value as you can’t do it all by yourself. You will be required to employ the services of other people to deliver the simplest minimum valuable product in real estate,” he stated. “We have trained other developers that are doing developments and employing people; we work with big companies like Cappa D’Alberto, BCL, HOK, ALICO, and ECAD as our architects and contractors and you can imagine the number of people working with them; we have over 100 permanent staff and, at our sites, we have countless number of workers,” he noted.
“I can confidently say that only a few companies in Nigeria have come as far as Palton Morgan (Parent Company of PropertyMart, Grenadines Homes and Oceanna) has come. Looking at the entire group, by my last check, we have over 7,000 families that have benefited from the housing and land schemes we have sold to customers. Many of them bought from our serviced land and I can tell you that this is one of the ways through which the housing deficit in Nigeria can be resolved,” he added.