Real estate in God’s name

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By Caroline Adeola Akinlotan

A candid account from the frontline of the property market!

MON, OCTOBER 31 2016-Worshiping God has become a multi billion naira business. Some worship centres are like super luxury awe inspiring high tech mega structures. The auditoriums are like walking into a five star luxury hotel, with air-conditioning, carpeted or marble floors, floor to ceiling television screens, recording rooms and cameras capturing the whole service, concert sized stages and lighting

It was reported in the press recently that worship centres are taking over large plots of lands and buildings in industrial and residential areas. In fact when you analyse it closely, you will find that worship centres are being set up just about anywhere they find free space, in hotels, restaurants, schools and bars! I don’t think you can go down any street in Lagos and not come across one or more places of worship, and the demand for space is growing. A famous waterside bar in Lekki is now converted into a weekly meeting venue for a popular church. I had to show some clients a property on a residential estate in Lekki some time ago, and the building right next door had recently been sold and converted into three storey church. The client who had previously shown an interest in the property when it was still under construction, politely backed out of the transaction for fear of the noise disturbance that will come from the church activities as well as car parking access.  Interestingly, the Lagos state Environmental department has recently closed down a number of worship centres for causing unacceptable levels of noise disturbance to their neighbours from their gigantic speakers and microphones which would not look out of place in a stadium. Plans are in place to clamp down on many more of these noise polluting venues.

Worship centres are now buying up real estate which cost hundreds of millions and even billions of naira and using millions more to convert them into their houses of worship. Some of these churches are set in acres of land which also provide their own residential homes, hotels, guest houses, secondary schools and universities. I went to a gym recently and found that even the basement space had been leased to a church for services. Worshipping God is now state of the art, the bigger, the better. Along the Lekki Expressway, every few yards is huge a worship centre. In Victoria Island, there is a huge mega structure coming up in Oniru, which belongs to a very popular church. Land prices in Oniru can go for billions depending on the size. The building which is currently under construction, boasts of worship auditoriums, offices restaurants, swimming pool, gym and much more. On the Lagos Ibadan Expressway acres of prime land has been occupied by every denomination of worship, some even sharing boundaries. The larger worship centres actively invest in property development in order to boost their finances. It is hard to say what is driving their rapid proliferation into property acquisition both for personal use and for investment, but it will be interesting to watch how this trend will all develop over the coming years as the population of the country continues to expand and the need for more homes is required. In the UK a lot of abandoned worship centres are being converted into much sought homes for rent or for sale, thereby reducing the demand for housing. This of course is the reverse for Nigeria which seems to be on a quest to buy up more residential homes and land for worship centres.

Caroline Adeola Akinlotan is Managing Director RSG property service. Email: info@rsgpropertyservices.com,  rsgproperty@gmail.com,  rsgproperty.blogspot.com : Website: www.rsgpropertyservices.com.

 

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