By Anu Adebayo
The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister for Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said that making home ownership an accessible dream for more Nigerians can only impact positively on our economy.
Speaking as she launched the first Ten thousand (10, 000) scheme on Thursday in Abuja, the Minister said “it will lead to the increased contribution of housing to GDP from the current negligible 3.1% of our rebased GDP to the high teens of emerging and developed economies such a Malaysia and the United States.”
She added that it will lead to more jobs being created and to greater economic inclusion. “It is estimated that for every new house built 3 direct and 8 new indirect jobs are created. Unlocking the housing sector will mean the creation of thousands of jobs for architects, builders, plumbers, welders, electricians, painters and other artisans in allied small and medium scale industries” she noted.
The Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) which was launched in January by President Goodluck Jonathan is to address the major constraint posed by poor access to housing finance to developing affordable housing market in Nigeria.
The President pledged that NMRC will become fully operational and Nigerians will be able to apply for mortgages that will be re-financed by third quarter of 2014.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala emphasized that “this is a serious scheme for serious people who want to own their own houses seriously. The government is determined to deliver on President Jonathan’s pledge to enable Nigerians to own their own homes through mortgage. But we must make it clear that applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria to qualify. That is the best way to create a level playing field and make the scheme sustainable so that more Nigerians can benefit.”
Speaking on efforts by the government to make home ownership accessible, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala added that key constraint to home ownership have been reviewed. She explained that to cut through the bureaucracy associated with the processes of acquiring proper documentation, “we initiated a Pilot States Scheme with some state governors and the FCT Minister who have committed to supporting the NMRC initiative and to collaborating with us towards creating the enabling environment for mortgage origination to be refinanced by NMRC in Property Registration; Enforcement of Mortgage Property; and Access to Serviced Land.
She explained that the “NMRC is set up as a re-financing vehicle set up to provide mortgage lending institutions with increased access to liquidity and long-term funds.” The NMRC will ensure greater access to finance for tenors of up to 20 years which is expected to accelerate the growth of the mortgage market for all income levels.
Speaking on how to be eligible to benefit from the scheme, the Minister explained that pre-qualification for a mortgage by a lender is key; “you are literally better armed and emboldened to look for a home to buy, within the limits of the mortgage provided.”
Any Nigerian interested in the scheme, has to be first time home buyer searching to purchase a home costing between N2 million and N20 million. Further eligibility requirements are found on the online portal created especially for the scheme – www.housingfinance.gov.ng.