The real estate market in Nigeria is a lucrative one. But not many pride themselves in building with a purpose. Veritasi Homes and Properties plans to be a game-changer in that regard, founded by a 30-year-old who has shown that if one door closes, you can buy another one and open it yourself.
When you think about luxury properties in the world, places like London, New York and Dubai come to mind. However, it is one man’s dream to bring Lagos Nigeria on the same luxury list.
Thirty-year-old Adetola Nola has a big vision for the real estate market in Nigeria. “We think that we can actually bring something that’s not really in the Nigerian luxury space,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
He founded Veritasi Homes and Properties almost six years ago, and since then has achieved what many only dreams of before the age of 30. Making it on some of the worlds global lists such as the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list the 2020 Most Influential Young Africans list by Avance Media, he has set his eyes to the sky.
“Initially, in the real estate business when it comes to affordable homes, they prioritise functionality over aesthetics. So when you buy a cheap building it just has to be functional. However when you come to Lagos, they prioritize aesthetic over functionality,” he says.
Through Veritasi Homes, Nola aims to rebrand the company providing premium housing in Lagos proving that luxury and affordability do go hand in hand. Over the last years they have been able to learn from the best locations of luxury and architecture such as France, Dubai, England and New York to bring his vision to life in some of the most affluent neighbourhoods in Lagos.
As a result, Veritasi Homes is rebranding its identity to reflects its growth over the last four years and also as it upscale its housing development into new areas like Ikoyi, Lagos and Asokoro, Abuja. Reports show that in recent years many of the documented cases of building collapses in Nigeria was due to the use of defective or substandard materials with staff that have little to no technical knowledge.
To counter these issues of development and infrastructure Veritasi aims to partner with iCreate Africa, a skills development organisation founded by Bright Jaja, an Under 30 list maker from 2019, to be able to train painters, carpenters, masons and more to become skilled at their craft.
Nola also attended an architecture program in Dubai, known for being one of the world’s most fascinating architectural landmarks, and learnt that the key to a stronger home is less iron and the use of tension slabs as this avoids a lot of weight being placed on the building. “This is a big danger because sometimes 1000 people stay in a space and the building is tilted, and it can fall off anytime,” he says.
Infused with technological advancements such as voice control features and fingerprints the luxury that Nola speaks of offers both functionality and aesthetics from the lights down to the basement parking. “It’s about not knowing the difference between when you are in your house and when you are in some of the best hotels in the world. If you can achieve that then I think you can say that you have developed luxury, and that’s what we are trying to do,” he says.
“Usually, three or four years ago people would think that these were very hard to combine, but we now make sure that you can make your home smart and it can still be affordable,” he says.
Apart from overcoming the infrastructure development issues in Nigeria, the other challenges faced by property development companies is the political and economic challenges in the country. All this from getting the right land documentation, working with policies and artisans are mountains sometimes difficult to move.
“These are the problems we face from money problems, government policy, artisans and political instability. These are some of the things that happen in Nigeria and you can wake up one day and hear that Twitter is banned. This sends wrong information to investors like, ‘is this really where I want to go?’,” he says. But instead of running away from the problems, Nola stands firm in his decision to be part of the solution to Nigeria’s infrastructure.
“There is never a right time to do anything. You want to make the time right for yourself,” he says.
“As an entrepreneur, I have tried my hands on several businesses early on in my life and a number of them failed. The failure from these businesses brought in important business lessons that will eventually come in very handy in running Veritasi Homes with my team,” he admits.
By the time Veritasi Homes was founded, it was his eighth business and everything fell into place which he is extremely grateful for.
Nola carries the spirit of American civil rights activist John Lewis who once said “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Looking beyond the horizon, Nola plans to grow the company expanding it into countries such as Accra, Ghana.
“As a company, we want to scale and we want to grow. We are trying to go public, not only in Nigeria but also on the New York Stock Exchange” he says.
Despite being one of the youngest in the industry and having failed businesses along the way, Nola and the Veritasi Homes team are proof that there is no blueprint to success.
They also plan to venture into launching a mortgage bank in the future.
Creating Better Living In Lagos
A home is a valuable possession and asset that provides financial stability and security for investment-savvy buyers.
And Veritasi Homes in Nigeria understands that dictum, priding itself in its rebranding as a company providing premium upscale developments to clients in choice locations.
“Our business is out to solve real estate problems and we realize that there’s a need for well-built premium residential development. There’s also an issue relating to the housing deficit. Not just out of supply, but also credit, a component that affects demand,” Tobi Yusuff tells FORBES AFRICA.
Yusuff, who is also a partner in the business, is the head of marketing and communications in charge of building the brand’s presence and coordinating marketing and communication strategies.
“The tagline we coined following our new brand identity is ‘Creating Better’,” he says, “to mean a commitment to be excellent within the industry we play. Our ‘Creating Better’ ranges from better projects and delivery, better quality, better services, the list goes on,” he says.
In the last four years, the company has evolved from site and service into housing developments to provide homes for first-time home buyers and an interesting rental income for seasoned investors.
It has identified key upmarket areas in Nigeria such as Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island in Lagos and Asokoro in Abuja.
One of the main areas the company has made a huge impact in is the Camberwall Estate, an affordable housing project in Lagos to address Nigeria’s housing deficit.
“We specifically designed our Camberwall project to be affordable, not just in the size of the house or the design and function, but also in how people can access credit to facilitate the transaction through a mortgage which is usually a challenge.”
To enable that, Yusuff says the company is in partnership with a mortgage bank to make the process hassle-free for clients.
“To recommit to our resolve of providing homes for the mass market as we continue to upscale our developments, we set up a subsidiary company named Eystone Development that will cater to the mass market, you know, low-cost, affordable housing, sale of land, sales of bungalows, that people can easily take on based on their finances,” he says.
To explain the idea behind the new brand identity, the new Veratisi logo symbolizes “unlimited access to opportunities” and also features the “Red Arc” that represents a shield against uncertainties.
“So if you look at it closely, the logo looks like a key, and a key signifies access… So that’s what we’re also looking to do for everyone that does business with us. We will be able to give access to opportunities that they were previously not open to,” says Yusuff.
Veritasi is looking to take on its newfound opportunities in the luxury market with beautiful architecture that covers functionality and aesthetics infused with technological
advancements such as voice control features, fingerprint access and other smart technologies in the development of Sloane Apartment; its new and prestigious luxury development overlooking the Lagos Lagoon in Ikoyi.
Clients will also be able to view their listings online using the virtual inspection suite recently launched on the company’s website. The technology is customer-focused as clients can view the listings from the comfort of their homes, thus limiting outdoor interaction in a Covid world.
As a company with big dreams run by a team of young and bright people, Yusuff says that they are here to break boundaries and set new standards within the industry.