Kunle Adeyemi, the Managing Director of Sterling Homes Limited, a real estate development and management firm is committed to building affordable homes for Nigerians both at home and in the Diaspora. Their target audience ranges from the high income earners to the middle and low income earners. According to Adeyemi, they have projects that are actually targeted at different cadres in the society, and this is something, he said they are very passionate about in this interview with Happenings
Please tell us about the establishment of Sterling Homes?
Sterling Homes was established as a company on 24th of June, 2010. Ever since the establishment of Sterling Homes we have been committed to reducing the housing deficit we experienced as a nation. We started our focus on the base of the pyramid which are thought to be the low income earners who are also considered as the majority. We roll out projects and products which are targeted towards these calibre of people within Lagos State, Ogun State, Ibadan, Abuja etc. We started with land scheme and housing scheme. We have land scheme around Mowe called Villa Park and Garden, it was targeted towards the low income earners. We have some bungalows and building built that are rolled out for sale.
It was well-embraced by the society because it addressed the major challenge we have as a nation. We as an organization, we are advocate of good environment One of our founding philosophies as a company is that environment, to a large extent, influences the way we think. If we create the right environment it enhances our thinking pattern. If a man thinks well, of course, his chances to survive will be very high. We are passionate about creating the enabling environment. For example, a child born and raised in Ikoyi is chances to survive is high than a child born and brought up in Mushin, where I was born and brought up and I am so proud to be a product of that environment.
It is very rare to see someone with such background succeeding because environment influences the way we think and the way we think determines of chances of survival in life. We have a project for the middle income earners at Ikorodu, Agbowa, Atan, Agbara etc. We also have POCKET PIECE PROJECT that are targeted towards the upper middle class, and the high income earners. We have some the houses built in Abuja, Lekki. A number of projects also coming up on the Mainland- Yaba, Surulere and other areas. We look forward to moving to Pothacourt very soon. This are part of what we do as an organization in a bid to address the menace of housing deficit we have as a nation by creating the right environment for people to live at an affordable rate.
What gives your company the competitive edge over your contemporaries in this field?
Aside the fact that we are very consistent as an organization, we also hold in high esteem our core value which is integrity. We promise and delivered all our promises. We have had catalogue of clients both at home and in the diaspora who have done businesses with us. They have bought into our housing and land schemes and some other services that we rendered. What makes us stand out from every other organization is our excellence culture among others, we don’t celebrate mediocrity, we don’t give room for average. If it is worth doing, is worth doing well. We go all out to ensure that our project is well-executed, we cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s and we ensure that we deliver on time. For those who bought into our land scheme or housing scheme allocation is almost instant. You buy our house now, we allocate to you without delay. Unlike others that probably take ages before people get their allocations. This is one of our unique selling point as an organization amidst other after sale services. After purchasing our land and housing schemes, we don’t just leave you, we also have fantastic after sales services we called it STERLING AFTER SALES SERVICES (SASS). We put this together to ensure that our customers and those who subscribed to our housing schemes enjoy the facilities that we provide within all our estates.
What are the modalities for benefiting in your housing programmes?
This is one of the things that differentiate us from the lot. We have an instalment pay option that is zero interest. We realized that our mortgage system as a nation is not working, so we feel there is a need for us to come up with something that could cushion the effect of that on the people. Not everyone will have 10million Naira to buy a home, 2 million or 100 million Naira to own their dream home. But what we do as an organization is to give you an instalment pay options that allows you to pay at an instalment with zero interest within a period of time. If you want something elongated we can even introduced you to our mortgage partners who can give you something at a much stretchy level, but probably with an accrued interest. For us as an organization, we believe everyone deserves to have a home and that is our driving force. Like I said earlier, we are advocate of good environment, because we believe environment influences the way people think and if we can make people think right, we will have a better society and a good nation.
What package do you have for those people who do not have regular income?
Another interesting thing about Sterling Homes is beyond our pricing policies that we have captured on all our materials. A group of people or an individual with such peculiarity we give them a tailor made paying plan. As a matter of fact, it is expected that 30 percent of what you earn is what is expected to go into servicing your mortgage. But in this part of the world imaging the minimum wage some people are paid here, subjecting that to 30 percent. The 30 percent can’t even get you a rented apartment let alone owning a home. So what we do for those with such peculiarity – businessmen and women that don’t have a structured income flow, like a steady income flow. We have a customized-tailor-made payment option for them. Because it makes no sense that in a bid to get a home and you can’t pay your children school fees, it makes no sense that you can’t put food on your table because you want to own a home. It is considered to be the basic need of life, however that should not jeopardize other basic needs of life, which of course, food tops that priority list. Beyond other plans we have, we have a tailor made structured plan for such individual.
Talking about Nigerians in the diaspora what package do you have for them?
One of the major challenges Nigerians in the diaspora are facing over having a home in Nigeria is that a number of them have had their finger burnt. We saw this gap many years ago, that is why we initiated a programme called REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN NIGERIA. We have the maiden edition of that programme in 2011 at Atlanta Georgia, USA. We were privileged to have the Ambassador of the United State endorse such a programme. After that we have had series of meetings with Nigerians living in the diaspora, particularly in the United State of America. Sterling Homes has become a household name, a name many people has come to identify with, particularly in the United State of America. A lot of people have given their money to relatives, friends and relations to help them build house in Nigeria, but they have pathetic stories to tell. So we came in to bridge the gap. Interesting about 45 percent of our clients data base are Nigerians in the diaspora. That shows that over time, Nigerians in the diaspora have confidence and believe in us.
We have a catalogue of Nigerians in the diaspora that have done businesses with us. Some have bought houses from us, we have built houses for some of them, and we are still building houses for some other people. As I speak, we have many Nigerians living abroad on our clients list who are professionals some are doctors, nurses, tax consultants, some work with the government over there in the USA, even students etc. Because we have been tested and trusted over the years. We have been approved by the authority in the United State of America. We have fantastic offers for those that live in the United States of America, and other places abroad in a bid to make them have homes here in Nigeria, we came up with that initiative called REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN NIGERIA (REION). What do a lot of talks, sensitization, campaign that is in form of educating and enlighting people about real estate opportunities in Nigeria. You can be abroad and have home back here in Nigeria that will be making money for you. Beyond building house for people we also manage the facilities for them here in Nigeria. We can also help people in the diaspora to own a home, rent it out and still live in it if they come back to Nigeria. Another area I also need to stress is that some already own a home in Nigeria, but they are looking for investment opportunities back home here in Nigeria, we also have a platform where people can invest, and we give them good returns on investment. These are among others things we offer Nigerians in the diaspora.
What are the challenges your organization is facing?
As an organization our number one challenge is documentation, this is on the part of the government. Few government have made it easier by digitalizing like Lagos State Government, I hope others will align with that. But in other states where we operate, it is an uphill task. It is subjected to a whole lot of bureaucracy. They don’t digitalize their process or procedure, so one still goes through the conventional way which delays the process. Another challenge is poor basic infrastructure. Some of our projects would have been far cheaper if the basic infrastructure are put in place. For instance, we are responsible for powering our estates, we are responsible for providing basic needs in our estate which includes water, road, drainage etc. If we have infrastructure already put in place by the government, that makes it a lot easier for us. This will also ensure accessibility of our people to enjoy mortgage facilities. That is what is obtainable in other part of the world where people enjoy mortgage facilities and pay back over a long period of time. That system is not working here as a nation, and it is a major challenge we have. Otherwise people would own a home and pay over a long period of time without feeling it from their income.