“How ATCO Homes is pushing the frontier of real estate investment” – Mr Bartholomew Egbochie, GMD, ATCO Group
Mr Batholomew Egbochie is the Group MD of ATCO Group and CEO of ATCO Homes, a real estate firm, with sprawling properties in the Lekki, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki axis of Lagos. He speaks about the development in the sector, the opportunities in Ibeju-Lekki and the firm’s real estate investment portfolios.
Q.According to data released by the NBS recently, the real estate sector posted a 3.85% growth in the second quarter of the year 2021. Compared to the slump in the market during reduced activities occasioned by the COVID-19 induced trade restrictions, does the sector renewed growth trajectory portray investors’ confidence in the market?
A. Much like it. The real estate market provides a high-yielding investment opportunity for shrewd investors, especially in Nigeria. The lull experienced in the market in 2020 does not reflect the value status of the market. As you would attest to, almost every sector, except for the big tech firms, felt the impact of the reduced trade activities occasioned by the restrictive COVID-19 protocol guidelines. Despite all that market disruption which reduced household income and purchasing power, it was clear to keen-eyed market analysts that a rebound was somewhere around the corner. The partial return to normal business activities in the latter part of the preceding year around the globe fueled renewed investment interest in the real estate sector. Individual and corporate investors began to raise capital to deploy into the sector to build a strong investment coffer for the future. The future can be vividly captured. Nigeria population is projected to grow exponentially within the next 40 years. Looking at the bourgeoning demography of young people in the country, a whole new set of people would need housing, places to serve as trade hubs, schools to cater for a fresh set of kids, leisure centres for play amongst others in the nearest future. This overriding demography spread demand scaled infrastructural upgrades which make real estate an attractive investment proposition right now.
“The partial return to normal business activities in the latter part of the preceding year around the globe fueled renewed investment interest in the real estate sector”
Q. How is ATCO Homes positioning its real estate portfolios to help investors make the best of the sprawling investment projection in the real estate market?
A. ATCO Homes is expanding its real estate market footprint especially across the Ibeju-Lekki axis which has been tagged ‘the new Lagos’. For now, we have about 15 gated estates in Lagos. The accessibility to our estates guarantees our off-takers 60% to 65% annual return-on-investment. The drivers of these new upscale real estate investment propositions include the Dangote refinery projects, the Dangote mini seaport, the Lagos state jetty, the different beaches that are scattered around the area, and the proposed International Airport to be located within the hub. We are a customer-driven business. We prioritize our clients’ investment needs and that is why we work daily to create investment opportunities that tie into their aspirations.
Q. What investment and ownership structure are ATCO Homes putting in place to encourage the lower-end and middle-class segments within the national socioeconomic strata to tap into its real estate offerings as well as ensure the investment advantages spread across?
A. We have consistently conducted our business in a way that spreads opportunities across the different levels of the economy. We put in place a rare affordability real estate purchase investment structures. These structures include an affordable initial deposit for low-income earners and an instalment payment option that is spread across 24 months. We have also consistently gifted our clients cars (Toyota Corolla) fully insured by our trusted associate, Consolidated Hallmark Insurance. These vehicles help to ensure consistency in the repayment option, eg. Hiring it out for taxi (Uber or Bolt) with steady cash flow every month. By providing our low-end clients with an extra channel of income we are leading them on the wealth-creation journey which would not only boost their current earnings but position them to live a fuller life now and later.
Q. You have a strong grasp of the business environment. Can you share your academic and business experience?
A. I am a passionate entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience in providing solutions to problems in the construction, marine equipment fabrications, oil and gas sector in the South-South of Nigeria. I possess a comprehensive knowledge of key institution success drivers as I have been responsible for strategy, planning and execution, optimizing key preprocess by mitigating financial and technical risks.
Before founding ATCO Homes, I founded Atco Energy an integrated Logistics, Retailing, Technical & Industrial energy solution Company, with the flagship brand – Atcogas, currently at the forefront of the LPG value chain in Nigeria.
I studied Mathematics at Ambrose Alli University. I am equally an alumnus of the Lagos Business School, EDC and a volunteer and supporter of several local and international humanitarian groups, one of which I received Archers Award powered by Arrows Leadership Development Foundation (ALDEF)/WeCare Club Global whose mandate is to enrich humanity at all levels through the development of the leadership culture and positive behavioural changes. Currently, I am running some courses at the Harvard Business School.
Q. Now beyond the market development strategies being put in place by real estate firms such as ATCO Homes, what do you think the government need to do to support players within the market as well as bridge the alarming national housing gap reportedly pegged at 2 million housing units?
A. Although ATCO Homes does not take loans from any commercial bank to finance its real estate projects; I would notwithstanding advise the government to provide financing opportunities for players in the real estate sector to deepen their economic contributions. Besides, the regulatory arms of the government can work out a support strategy for the industry by implementing a price-cushioning framework that makes building materials more affordable for commercial and private home builders. These sectoral intervention programmes would help players build more affordable housing units for Nigerians. Considering the growing socioeconomic challenges such as price inflation and displacement that is currently ravaging many households in the nation, my proposed incentivizing tactical approach is needful. And more importantly, we believe that all hardworking citizens of Nigeria should be able to own at least a housing unit in a decent city.