Kingsley U.N. Chikwendu
The economic hardships brought by the covid-19 pandemic may be a long-term problem and is already affecting millions of persons including mortgagees, tenants, homeowners and even some estate developers and may continue in the coming months.
As humans hoping for daily improvements of our lives, we may be optimistic for the new year but, we should not let ourselves live in self-deception by not acknowledging that due to housing problems faced in the past prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, coupled with the harsh economic conditions of today, the worst may still be yet to come. However, we are hopeful that it does not.
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The beginning of 2021 may be difficult for tenants because many may face eviction and forbearance issues, both of these may happen till the middle part of the year. In order to prevent this, the government and housing experts should focus on keeping the masses in their homes despite the construction of 300,000 housing units under the Economic Sustainability Plan being underway.
The question should be what is the government doing now to ease housing problems for the masses before the completion of the 300,000 housing project. Also, after that, will more construction of housing units take place thereafter? The government need to understand that the effects of this pandemic might not be short-term, it could be a long-term problem.
How the housing industry should work together to ensure affordability for Nigerians?
Providing solutions to housing affordability problems is not centered just to a group, it encompasses the general, everyone across the entire housing industry is involved. The private sector and public establishments have their key roles to play to create more channels for people to meet their dreams of becoming home owners.
Helping a large part of Nigerians especially the low income earners own their houses should be done at the regulatory level. Land regulatory bodies should ensure that land policies should be masses friendly, most significantly, emphasis should be focused on how lands are being allocated and the land use acts. Today, they have been made very dynamic and complex.
Housing stakeholders should think deep concerning this and proffer more solutions to more of these problems to keep the masses housed, it should be a priority.
The masses will really benefit with government revisiting refinancing policies
More friendly affordable loans should be made for intending homeowners and it should not just end there, the government should revisit refinancing policies especially in this pandemic era. Many mortgagors have lost their jobs completely, thereby, losing some means of income. This refinancing would help and in some cases, help borrowers rearrange their monthly payments.
Awareness for the need for more supply of housing should be enhanced because it is one of the biggest obstacle for not just the growth of the housing market but, a huge barrier for the growth of the economy. When we have demand for housing going up while supply is fixed, obviously, it will lead to increase in price and unaffordability of houses.