One big company that has been doing massive real estate projects in the Lekki/Ajah axis recently is 1st Homes, a reputable property company that has distinguished itself in the last few years. Chief Emeka Uzoeto is the Chairman/CEO of 1st Homes Limited. A company he floated a few years ago to tackle the deficit in the housing sector. And today, he has been able to provide enough houses for many people who dream of quality and structural strong houses. His area of concentration is Lekki axis and its environs. He has built more than 30 estates there in the last few years.
Who is this man? He is a Chief, but he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. His chieftaincy title is Ede. His latest housing estate is called West Bridge Garden, a mini-estate that was beautifully designed. It’s on Muritala Eletu Way, Osapa London, Lekki. It’s a set of 5 bedroom luxury, fully detached houses with Boy’s Quarters. It’s a tastefully finished 5 bedroom luxury, all room ensuite with a big dining area, with Turkish security doors, spacious bathroom with wardrobes and jacuzzi in the master bedroom.
Everywhere you turn, especially around Lekki in Lekki, you will likely to find one or two housing projects that belong to 1st homes. In spite of the challenges in the Nigeria economy and real estate sector, 1st homes has never relented; it has continued to provide firepower in the sector.
A few months back, City People spoke with the Chairman of the company, Chief Emeka Uzoeto, about the success of the company. In our conversation with him, he told us how he started real estate and what led him into the sector.
“Actually, I never dreamt of going into real estate business because it’s a very risky and stressful business. Before now, I have some properties such as Plaza and Shopping Malls, in some states, which I have developed in the past, believing that I would be making much income from them that would keep my life going, but when inflation set in and naira depreciated, that downturn development induced me to fully come into the sector and I have made an impact on the economy by employing so many people. Thus making life better for them.
I started with building shopping malls. I have many shopping complexes. I have always had it in mind that even when I get old, I could have something doing, but when the inflation came in, I had to dabble into building and selling of property business, employing people, paying people and contributing to peoples livelihood”.
He also told City People how bad economy is affecting real estate. “What drives the economy is financial power. If you don’t have financial power, where would you get the money to buy a property and moreover, the cost of house development has gone up. Wages for labourers, artisans and prices of housing materials have gone up. Price of cement has gone up. Before, we used to buy cement about 1,300 naira. Now, it is around 2,600 naira. At a point this year, we bought pieces of iron rods for 2 hundred thousand naira, but its price has gone up. The rising cost of building materials is not good for business, but we are also hoping for relief as the economy seems to be getting better. If the economy improves, real estate sector would benefit immensely from it. Whether you are into importation business, agriculture and other sectors”. Chief Emeka Uzoeto, says the government can do better!
He continues: Of course, so many areas in the sector need government assistance. Number one, in this country, we don’t have incentives, you are on your own, nobody cares. There are so many things the government needs to do. The mortgage banks are not lending us loans. Cement is very expensive because it has been monopolised by a single individual. The government should encourage people to go into the production of cement so that the grip of monopoly will slacken. The government should encourage us by pumping more money into the sector”.
Can you tell us what you have done so far?
“(Smiles) I have done much. Within a space of one to two years. I have been able to produce more than 500 houses, in the last few years”.
As I said earlier, the economy is not so good, if we are encouraged by the government, of course, I will do more”.