Oct 31 - Nigeria is becoming an increasingly popular investment destination thanks to a growing consumer market and growth of over 6 percent. As Hayley Platt reports that's also creating a property boom.
It's not quite Manhattan or Mayfair but this area of Nigeria's capital is on the up. Investors are clamouring to buy in Lagos, despite big risks in some areas. Some desirable addresses have become part of an elaborate property scandal. Burglars break into homes, steal the possessions, then change the locks and sell the property deeds several times over. But even that hasn't put off buyers, says estate agent Allie Morse. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALLIE MORSE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, LAMUDI, NIGERIA, SAYING: "A lot of people if and when they have the resources want to invest in property because they understand that it's an asset that's real, it can retain its value and they can ultimately live in their properties no matter what happens." Lagos is home to 20 million people and a growing number of them - around one in four at the moment - are middle class. The government estimates it will need 16 million more homes. That growing consumer market is attracting foreign investors too. Bidemi Fadayomi is Vice President of Avante Property Asset Management Service. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BIDEMI FADAYOMI, VICE-PRESIDENT, REAL ESTATE AT AVANTE PROPERTY, ASSET MANAGEMENT SERVICES, SAYING: "Our clients are becoming a lot more sophisticated and they are demanding more purpose built commercial buildings so we have seen a move from residential conversions to buildings which are specifically designed for offices." Property's not cheap. A two-bedroomed apartment can cost more than $1 million dollars. But the rewards can be high. Rental incomes can yield 10% and investments can earn returns of 35% - if you can afford to buy outright or pay the interest rates. Technology consultant Ommo Clark says that's a real challenge. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OMMO CLARK, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CONSULTANT, SAYING: "The interest rates are crippling if you can get it, you know so you have to go through the hassles of getting it and then you've got this huge interest to pay in a short time span as opposed to England where you can spread it for 20 years or 25 years." The government's seeking a $300 million loan from the World Bank to encourage bank lending. It's also reviewing its mortgage market and land laws to help boost the construction and property sectors. Both are growing at a rate of over 10%. Corruption, lack of expertise and finance remain majors challenges. But with a population of 170 million - more than Russia - and an economy growing at a rate of 6% Nigeria's potential is being noticed.