In a desperate bid to raise funds ahead of February general elections, politicians seeking or sponsoring candidates for elective posts have started selling their property in major cities of the country such as Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
Investigation by Saturday PUNCH revealed that the development had crashed property market value as the politicians reduced the cost of their property by between 50 per cent and 100 per cent just to raise money for campaign.
In Rivers State, a Port Harcourt-based estate practitioner, who simply identified himself as Nonye, confirmed to one of our correspondents that many property, especially those in Old GRA, had been put up for sale by some politicians.
According to him, there has been a sharp increase in the sale of property by politicians, who ostensibly need money to woo voters for support.
He specifically said a former governor of the state sold some of his property in order to assist some politicians seeking elective positions.
According to him, the politicians’ desperation to sell their property began in August, 2014 and peaked the following month.
Nonye said, “There are many politicians who are selling their property. While some of the property have already been sold, others are still waiting to be sold. The rush to sell the property started in August and increased in October, 2014. These property are owned by politicians. The property are mostly in Old GRA and New GRA in Port Harcourt.
“One of the governorship aspirants sold one of his property while a former governor has sold about three of his houses to support a politician that is currently seeking election.
“The politicians selling their property cut across the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress.
“One of the governorship aspirants also put up his eight plots of land for sale in the Old GRA and an aspirant from Andoni Local Government Area has offered to sell a duplex in the New GRA.”
On the value of the property on sale, Nonye explained that while a two-story building could go as high as between N250m and N300m in a high-brow area like New and Old GRA, the same property could go for between N20m and N50m in other areas.
Another estate agent, Bright Osakwe, told Saturday PUNCH that more property were currently put on sale than in 2013.
Bright said estate agents observed that most of the property that were currently on sale belonged to top politicians.
According to him, some of the property go for as high as between N50m and N60m depending on the size and quality of the building.
He said most of the politicians have their buildings in places like GRA, Ada George and Shell Industrial Area.
Bright noted that the politicians would not show up to negotiate with would-be buyers until they were sure that serious customers had indicated interest in acquiring the property.
He said, “The politicians are selling their property now compared to what it used to be two years ago. We noticed an increase in the level of property that are put up for sales, though the politicians don’t show up until a buyer shows serious interest in buying such property. The property are mostly houses and you are aware that when you buy the building, the land follows it.
“Some of the buildings owned by politicians that have been put up for sale are around Ada George, Old GRA and Shell Industrial Area. Some buildings owned by these politicians are also located on D-Line. While some are put up for sale at N50m and N55m for one story building, others place the price of their property at N60m depending on the location, size and quality of the property. In fact, you can see property of N25m. It depends on the size and location.”
Real estate agents in the Federal Capital Territory told Saturday PUNCH during separate interviews that a lot of buildings had being offered for sale but there were “no buyers.”
The Chairperson, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, FCT Chapter, Mrs. Binta Ibrahim, said the coming elections were a major reason for the fall in prices of buildings in the nation’s capital.
She said, “The issue has to do with the economy, but politicians equally are selling their property. So, I will say it is both ways; the economy and the next general elections.
“If you go round Abuja, you will see that a lot of property are put up for sale, even those that are being put up for rent, people are not patronising the developers and owners.
“With the approaching elections, and the less circulation of funds as before, the politicians are desperate to come back and they have to sell off their property. So, if you look at it from the investors’ angle, you will see that the investors now have a good deal because of the way politicians are selling their estates at give-away prices.”
Ibrahim noted that the development was not favourable to fresh investors as would-be real estate dealers lacked liquidity to cash in on the sale of buildings at lower prices by politicians.
She said, “Because there is no money, the development is affecting both the politicians and fresh investors. For instance, you will see a property that you are supposed to buy for N100m going for N60m and people don’t have that N60m to take the opportunity.
However, a few persons are cashing in on this, but to majority of us, it is not a good time.”
Speaking also on the development, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Woods and Bricks Limited, Mr. Andy Elerewe, cited an instance where a politician from one of the northern states placed one of his houses up for sale and dropped the price by over 100 per cent but still could not find a buyer.
He said, “Somebody has a property to sell in Maitama, Abuja. As at about a year ago, he was saying he would sell the property at N1.4bn, but last November, the man said he was ready to sell the same property for N600m. And we have not even seen people who will buy the property.
“The man is interested in contesting in the next general elections. I can confirm to you that the elections are really making politicians to drop prices of their property.”
Another real estate consultant in Abuja, Mr. Ade Adenigbo, while speaking on how politicians have been offering their property for sale to raise money for election, agreed that events in the property market had shown that apart from the economic crisis caused by slumping oil prices, more properties are increasingly becoming available in the market due to the coming elections.
Adenigbo said, “Usually, about six months to elections, more property are up for sale by politicians so as to raise funds for campaigns.
“I can confirm to you that there is a surge in the availability of property that are offered for sale in the market now and the location of such property suggests that some of them belong to the politicians.
“If you go to some major streets in Abuja now, you would see about 10 property for sale before you would see three for letting. So, in Abuja currently, it is more of sale than for letting because of the politicians’ desperate need for cash.
“In places such as Asokoro, Wuse II and Maitama where politicians and wealthy businessmen reside, it may not be wrong to say that some of the property put up for sale in those areas belong to politicians.
“Out of 100 property for sale in the highbrow areas, more than half may belong to politicians, and maybe the rest for private individuals, developers, businessmen, expatriates, and so on, and most of them are finding it difficult to get buyers because of the cash crunch.
“In fact, somebody gave me a duplex to sell in Abuja few months ago, and ordinarily, that property would have cost about N180m, but the person told me to accept N100m if any buyer offers such.
“Two weeks ago, he called to say I should accept N90m if there is any willing buyer because he ‘needs money for election.’”
Adenigbo explained that some private individuals capitalise on the situation to own property they would not have been able to afford.
He said, “Some people specifically keep their money for a time like this to get good houses at a cheaper price, especially from politicians who spend lavishly on houses and are ready to dispose them quickly.
“There is a house in Gwarinpa that was to be sold for N170m sometime ago, for about three months now, the owner is ready to dispose of it for N100m because he desperately needs money.”
Another estate consultant in Victoria Island, Lagos, Mr. Bunmi Ajayi, disclosed that even though he would not be able to disclose the owners of some of the property that have been newly introduced to the market for sale, a number of them are on distress sale because the owners “need the money for elections.”
He said some people who had previously offered their property for letting had now put them up for sale to make quick money or raise some for the election.
“If you go to areas like Banana Island in Ikoyi, Ikeja GRA, Lekki Phase 1, and so on, you will see a number of property for sale there. Some of them have been there for a long time while some are new, but these are highbrow areas where only the rich and politicians can afford to buy property and their prices are falling.
An estate surveyor and valuer in Lagos, Mr. Stephen Eze, also confirmed that there were more property for sale in the market because of the need by some politicians who own some of them to raise money to fund campaign.
He, however, said there were few buyers because of the harsh economic situation in the country.
Eze said, “Don’t also forget that some of these aspirants would be affected by the fall in the price of oil, maybe through the contracts they would have secured from government. Since they need to raise money at all costs, selling their property would be an option, more so that some of them have more than one.
“That is also why we have many properties for sale in places like Ikeja GRA, Banana Island Estate, Parkview Estate, and so on. My opinion is that the upcoming elections have further worsened the crisis in the property market because of the availability of properties with no ready sellers.”
Many of the real estate firms in Ogun State were reluctant to talk about their clients who are politicians and who are opting to sell their property.
But after much pressure, some of them said politicians indeed sold their landed property during this election period.
A property consultant, who did not want his name mentioned, told one of our correspondents that a senatorial aspirant who lost in the primary planned to sell his plum property in Ibara area of Abeokuta for N50m.
The consultant said no buyer was ready to pay for the property because the price was high.
He said, “The politician is now ready to sell the same property for N40m.
He said, “The politician has spent so much money to fund his political ambition but he did not win the primary.
“Now he is broke and he is ready to sell his property to raise money.”
The Managing Director, Olushina Toki and Co, Ilorin, Mr. Shina Toki, said some politicians in Kwara State had been selling their property even before the political parties’ primaries.
According to him, more politicians are offering their property for sale in preparation for the next poll.
Though prices of property in Kwara State have been fluctuating, Toki said that it had gone up since the electioneering activities peaked.
Toki said, “There are politicians selling their property. It is not peculiar to Kwara; politicians do it even abroad.”