IIncidents of land racketeering abound in Markurdi, the capital of Benue State, largely due to the state government’s failure to digitize land administration. However, the real estate market, of which land is an integral part, continues to prosper.
Kate Bobby recently sold land bought four years ago for three times its original price in the community of Adeke in Makurdi, noting that the land had been on sale for over a year before the arrival of a buyer.
She explained that before the buyer arrived, the land was so undervalued that she gave up selling it, but the week the state government donated a plot of land at the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) in the area for an area, people started looking for available property in the area.
Bobby said: ‘So that’s when the interested buyer of my property came in and paid three times the price I wanted to sell before.
“I bought the property four years ago before the need to resell it arose. The reason being my transfer to another state. So, for more than a year, people underestimated the land. »
Daily Trust learned that apart from Bobby’s experience, land prices and rents have been increasing lately in Makurdi.
A property appraiser, Joe Nelson, a senior consultant with J. Nelson and Associates in Makurdi, told our correspondent, however, that land values were moving at a snail’s pace.
Nelson said, “I wouldn’t say land values are on the rise as it is moving at a snail’s pace in Benue State, especially in the state capital, Makurdi. I bought land about five years ago at 1.5 million naira and now they are offering me 2 million naira. It’s skinny. What gives rise to value are government activities.
“The value or increase of property does not lie in the land itself, but in government activities or human beings. Assuming they create a new route or there is a flyover, it will attract value. For example, a bank comes to this JS Tarka Way. I priced a property at N500,000, but when I came back in a month, it jumped to N2.5 million, and the bank didn’t even come.
“A woman who has a kiosk in the neighborhood and who wanted to leave because she complained of low attendance, suddenly she doesn’t want to go back. She heard rumors about a bank coming, instead she upgraded her shop. So it’s government activities that add value to the land, otherwise it’s moving at a snail’s pace. In addition, the location plays a role. Infrastructure matters – if you make a road in the bush, install electricity and water, even a market woman will buy land and build on it.
Nelson cited examples of government activity along the International Market Road in Makurdi, pointing out that the George Akume dual carriageway had raised land values overnight.
He further said that land prices in the area are now five times higher than before, noting that similar development is taking place on Naka Road; where the human effort of an average Benue man struggling to develop his own home had driven up land values in the area compared to other Makurdi suburbs.
The property expert added that “rents for offices and houses in Makurdi have not gone up and down due to lack of funds. But, the high cost of rent lately could be attributed to out-of-state developers who come to build with ideas from Abuja to rip people off.
“They will provide amenities not easily found in other houses, and that is why the rent will be high as we still have many houses in Makurdi without access to running water, let alone boreholes. So when these developers come from elsewhere, they will provide all these things, some even furnish the houses, so the rents are higher than others.
“I must admit that such houses are however too high for an environment like Makurdi considering the economic indices. Promoters, however, want to make money from their investments; having replicated what we have in places like Abuja and Lagos in Makurdi.
Today very serious inflation is going on in Makurdi as the cost of everything has increased except land which is still moving at a slow pace.
A landlord from Makurdi said: “The sudden increase in rents in Makurdi can be attributed to the rising cost of things. For me, I did not increase the rent of tenants in place. I’ll wait for an empty house, then I’ll run. So when the incumbent tenant sees that his neighbor is paying 50% more for the same apartment he is occupying, that would make him pay his rent when due, and that is how the value of the property takes effect. Once you have an empty house, you can ask for the sky. Scarcity can also be blamed for the rise in value because people want to stay in prime areas where property is scarce.
He further said that the government could provide infrastructure and once that is done, individuals would develop the land themselves, noting that people were forced to stay where they were because where they had land , there were no roads, light or water.
As he recalled three years ago when he went to buy land in the modern market, the landlord said it was N800,000 and he begged him for N500,000, adding that the owner was considering it because he hadn’t come to a conclusion. because he was asked to come back the next day.
He said: “It was two days later when I came home and saw the government trying to clear the road, so I quickly called the man’s phone number; I wanted to see him, but he had sold the land for 1.6 million naira, doubling the amount we were negotiating before. Indeed, they saw that a road was coming into the area and there was sudden pressure from buyers.
“That’s what infrastructure can do. We have advised against the government getting involved in housing, but they can provide infrastructure/amenities, not just allocating plots to people who cannot go there. That is why the value of shares in the market is always on the rise because we have big investors who are not located in Makurdi but they would stay outside and size the market and they would come and supply it and ask for more.
Meanwhile, State Commissioner for Lands, Surveys and Solid Minerals, Benard Unenge, while answering questions from reporters in Makurdi, said, “The ICT building is ongoing and progressing rapidly up to ‘to its completion and the digitization of existing files is also at an advanced stage. and the production of digital C of O is underway.
“So I can tell you that we are doing quite well because the funds for this project have been provided by the governor. We have no reason to give an excuse not to work. We are working, the consultant is working tirelessly to ensure that this project is delivered as planned and planned.
“As you already know, this digitization process is part of the ongoing effort to curb land racketeering in the state, because by the time we complete the digitization process, it will be difficult for people to go and tamper an existing property that has already been captured on the system.
“This is because once you have tampered with it, it can be easily traced and it will reduce the problems of land litigation, land racketeering and all forms of illegal land activities to a bare minimum. This digitization process will therefore really help to control the problems related to land administration.