It is not news that the housing gap is growing by the day. Although it still hovers around 17million less than what is needed to bridge the gap. The government has been asked to provide an enabling environment to allow the private sector thrive. In pursuit of liberalising home ownership, Old Mutual, Afreal and Newhomes.ng are collaborating not only to provide listing for properties, but mortgages to enable people achieve their dreams. OKWY IROEGBU-CHIKEZIE reports The easiest way to get people own houses is to have a viable and virile mortgage system. This is what happens in advanced economies where people pay mortgages for up to 30 years. To stimulate home ownership in the country, Old Mutual, an insurance firm with over a century history, Afreal Limited, a licensed mortgage brokerage firm through their delivery vehicle, Newhomes.ng have collaborated to simplify home ownership. In a chat with The Nation, Afreal Limited Chairman, Prof Chris Ugbechie said the idea behind the robust collaboration is to create liquidity to deliver affordable housing by creating equity deposit, monthly repayment and loan to value packages to Nigerians. He said though the growth of the real estate in Nigeria is notoriously slow, the firm through their SPV, Newhomes.ng, has created a perfect solution to prospective home owners, adding that the programme will ensure real estate distribution and financial solution to home ownership. Afreal Managing Director, Maurice Okoli said though some developers are building houses on a daily basis the gap in the housing stock has not improved because they are not building for the need of the market. According to him, their product will bring potential home buyers to a pool of houses and payment options that will enable them own houses. He said the application process is tailored in such a way that a potential buyer will run a personal credit rating on himself and know the house he can afford depending on his income. Okoli revealed that they provide information to customers on the housing stock available and information on the off-take obligation. He said: “We match potential property buyers with off-takers. We also pass useful information to developers for them to know what is required in the market. If you visit major cities you will see many to let houses, but they are not taking up because most times what is built is not what the market required. It is packaged in such a way that when a buyer sees a house he wants, he will click the mortgage dialogue, check affordability status which is in line with the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), that states that a repayment should not be more than 1/3 of one’s income”. Earlier, Old Mutual Marketing & Customer Experience Executive, Alero Ladipo said: “This partnership signals our strong commitment to Nigeria and her growing industries such as the real estate markets. As Nigerians invest their hard earned monies and investments in bridging the huge supply gap in the provision of housing for the citizens, it is imperative to recognise the risks that threaten these investments and put a financial protection plan in place. This is where Old Mutual comes in. “We have taken it upon ourselves, as insurers with over 170 years of experience, to enter into this exclusive partnership with Newhomes.ng, to provide innovative technology led solutions aimed at delivering the right insurance services for homeowners in Nigeria and at the same time bridge the gap of access to basic financial insurance. “Our partnership with Newhomes.ng provides the customers (whether individuals, investors or corporates) access to an array of property and home insurance products at just a click from a mobile device or computer. In other words, from the Newhomes.ng platform, Nigerians would be able to calculate their premium in seconds, complete seamless transaction end to end and obtain their policy certificate, all from the comfort of their homes or offices.” She added that the collaboration serves as an opportunity for Old Mutual to provide insurance protection for property owners and homeowners. “Through the newhomes.ng platform, Old Mutual will be providing a Premium Home Insurance package to existing and prospective property owners with benefits, including building fire and peril, household goods and personal belongings, burglary, fire insurance, alternative accommodation cost in event of home loss, personal accident cover and personal liability cover,” she added.