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PropTech Spotlight: House Africa

The real estate industry relies heavily on verification due to the nature of transactions involved but still, a mountain yet-to be dismantled due to lack of information. We have heard stories of people losing money to scam and fake real estate outlets who pretend to be developers or landlords etc. 

This is the story of one of the founders of House Africa, Ndifreke, who went ahead to purchase a property, but upon verification of documents, discovered that he wasn’t the only one with claims to the property.  The developer had sold the land to several other victims. 

This event, however sad, gave birth to the idea of House Africa – a PropTech company utilising blockchain technology for the verification of properties all over Africa. 

With PropTech Spotlight, we want to showcase the activities of companies within the industry and how an average Nigerian can utilise their products and services. 

We had a conversation with Nnamdi Uba, about his brain-child, which he co-founded with Ndifreke Ikokpu to help Nigerians, Africans avoid fake real estate documentation.  

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Tell us about yourself

My name is Nnamdi. I’m the co-founder of House Africa. Let me start with my early days. Actually, I wanted to be a priest when I was growing up. I started secondary school at a seminary school, but I wasn’t doing well, so I left and went to another Christian school, but because I was determined to be a priest, I returned to the seminary school. 

Once I was done, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to function as a priest, so I decided to venture into other things, like technology. I was beginning to like computers at that point in my life, and being a priest would hinder that. So I decided to go to the university with a pre-degree. Moving into the university proper, I thought I was going to pick telecommunications as my course of study, but someone introduced me to information technology, and I went with that instead. 

Starting my NYSC, I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher. I wanted something more—like an actual job. Then I got a job at MTN to be their tech support.

I met my co-founder at the University, before meeting again at MTN and we decided to launch our first company, Bitpayer; a platform where you can buy and sell cryptocurrency. We dropped Bitpayer and decided to focus on real estate after Ndifreke was scammed; we knew blockchain technology could help avoid such situations. 

House Africa started in 2018 but have gone through a lot of issues, which has caused us to change the business model numerous times. 

House Africa Banner

What prompted the decision to develop a platform to digitise the allocation of real estate?

The goal and vision was to make property data accessible to every individual. And that is what we have been working on from the get-go. We now work with Property Developers to get data regarding their projects and we hope to extend our offerings to individuals later on. 

At the moment, every data involving property in Nigeria is  manually processed and it causes all sorts of scams and loss of important documentation. Digitising also helps to reduce error and make processes less tedious. Once they get a buyer, every other thing is automatic. 

There is also a secondary product we’re building where developers can also help buyers to verify other properties. It ends up becoming a win-win situation for all parties.

How is House Africa educating their clients on Blockchain Technology? How do you get them onboard?

We present it to them from the angle of security and privacy. We show them that the business activities they do can be alot easier and more secure when they use technology. 

It keeps the knowledge of the ownership safe; it’s not a system that can be hacked from the backend or whichever way. 

We also show them from the NFT angle, being a non-fungible token. This implies that if someone buys a property, he or she is the only owner and there would be no instances of multiple people purchasing the same property. This encourages their clients to also trust them. 

About the product offers – Asides facilitating the digitization of payment and allocation of real estate, what do you have in-store for Nigerians?

According to Property Developers, about 80% of real estate sales are done through Agents. So we’re building an agent feature. 

This offer  gives the selling agent access to the various available properties. When they get an interested client, they can simply share the digital layout with the client to make a choice of the plot or section they want. When the client pays, the agents, developers and original owners of the property get their payments immediately.

The other feature we have gives Developers the ability to verify properties for their secondary clients for a fee.

Digital Site Map
Digital Site Map

Verification is an integral part of other industries like Financial institutions. Why does it seem to be harder to implement in the Real Estate industry?

Data. Data is the answer. You can’t verify what you don’t have. So, we need to first build data before we can start the verification process. 

The Developers have this information, but it’s not digitised and that’s why it’s difficult for the real estate industry. One of our missions is to unlock dead capitals in the real estate industry. 

Has House Africa raised any VC fund? If yes, tell us about the journey. 

Yes, we have raised some. The journey is usually based on the kind of story you’re selling and how attractive you make it to the investor. We try to position ourselves in a way that anyone who sees the product and vision would want to get involved.  

Talking about partnerships; how has onboarding government agency partners and non-technical partners been so far. Do they truly understand the vision or they are just trusting the process?

We have two government agencies that we’re currently onboarding in the East of Nigeria. It’s not been easy but we’re focusing on the pain point, which is digitisation. Everyone needs to have access to information without being somewhere physically. 

What would you say is exciting about House Africa in 2023 in respect to real estate economic activities?

We’re coming out in grand style and full force. We’re looking to make sure more people know about the company this year. We used last year to identify pain points and we are focusing on growth in 2023.

Digital Site Map
Digital Site Map

 

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