Obianuju Nsofor is a younger skilled increase her profession. She works in finance. Its a fairly demanding trade, so she prefers to dwell near work.
However Lagos is loopy. On this megacity getting a very good home generally is a nightmare or a conceit truthful. Homes in lots of components of Lagos are poorly constructed, removed from business centres and thats to not point out costly.
Obianuju prefers residing in prosperous neighbourhoods like Ikoyi and Victoria Island, not as a result of she likes however as a result of they’re near the place she works.
I believe for working professionals, you might want to be nearer to your office to eradicate distractions like visitors.
However getting an condo in these areas is very expensive, she explains to me. You want like one million naira or 3.6 million ($9,968) to safe and furnish an condo in these prosperous neighbourhoods, she stated. That sucks, but it surely is the truth many individuals face in Lagos and Nigeria typically.
She discovered a extra reasonably priced choice on a brand new on-line rental platform known as Muster.
What is Muster?
Based in 2017, Muster is a shared housing market. It desires to repair this rental downside by utilizing know-how to match folks with versatile rental and reasonably priced choices.
The platform works like Airbnb and Badi, a Spanish rental service. Common property house owners can put their properties and different accessible areas up for lease on Muster. By itemizing on the platform, property house owners are capable of optimize their areas and switch them right into a income stream.
Hosts on Muster are capable of earn greater than 40% on their rooms or their areas than in the event that they have been to listing on some other platform or to let historically, stated Ibraheem Babalola, Musters co-founder and CEO.
Babalola created the platform alongside Ugochukwu Okoro. Earlier than organising Muster, the 2 co-founders labored in finance and the fee industries respectively.
We based Muster to make residing in Africa simpler, stated Babalola. There are numerous issues residing in Nigeria and we thought that housing shouldnt be one in every of them.
Regardless that Muster properties are listed from third-party house owners, they undergo a top quality management verify, making certain they’re match for residing, some include their very own furnishings and facilities like web, water, beds and even kitchen utensils.
I believe whats distinctive about Muster is that I actually simply bought my garments and moved into the condo, Obinauju stated. I dont should hassle about something, all I’ve to concentrate on is work.
Muster makes use of a versatile plan for lease fee known as subscription. Customers will pay lease month-to-month, quarterly or yearly. You dont have to remain for a yr, so you’ll be able to keep for a extra versatile interval, Babalola defined.
Now, this is an fascinating method, from a buyer perspective, since most property house owners in Nigeria desire annual funds. Some even reject potential tenants who cant pay at the least 18 months of lease upfront; a follow that complicates home looking in Nigerias megacities like Lagos and Abuja.
As an online app, Muster additionally cuts out the necessity for an actual property agent and the extra and excessive charges brokers demand. Customers can instantly discover the property that the majority appeals to them based mostly on location, sort, options and price.
When you needed to discover a home historically you then needed to pay company charges, you needed to pay authorized charges, you in all probability needed to pay an agent for viewing payment, you needed to pay warning payment, and so many charges, Babalola defined.
By eradicating all these pointless friction and middlemen, [we are] basically democratizing the whole course of, driving affordability and unlocked rooms on this Lagos, he stated.
For property house owners, the platform handles all the center man duties. For our hosts, weve automated the whole course of for them, Babalola stated. Muster handles every part from lease assortment, settlement, weekly verify experiences, digitized contracts to battle administration.
Initially targeted on folks residing in Lagos, the platform now rents properties in Abuja.
Babalola shared that Muster was appointed official lodging associate of Cross Rivers state, a state common for its vacationer sights.
In keeping with Babalola, the platform is rising in traction to the extent that banks now listing their repossessed properties on Muster.
Because it launched in 2017, Muster has rented out over 700 rooms. Our imaginative and prescient as an organization is a world with out homelessness and that is actually our driving drive. The corporate is additionally planning to increase to Accra in Ghana however Babalola wouldn’t give a timeline for this.
Past offering housing, the corporate is harnessing rental knowledge to offer suggestions to house builders and actual property corporations about the place to construct and what sort of homes folks desire.
Up to now Muster has recorded one funding spherical; a pre-seed spherical in 2017. Its traders embrace C5 Capital and quite a few angel traders. It plans to finish an even bigger funding spherical this yr.
Is Muster too costly?
Regardless of its imaginative and prescient to offer reasonably priced housing, Muster is nonetheless a great distance out. When in comparison with conventional leases, homes listed on the platform appear costlier. For example, this accessible Maryland shared condo goes for 167,000 ($460.69) monthly;2 million ($5,517) yearly.
At first, I admitted that it was costly. Then at my assembly with Babalola, he defined that whereas conventional leases seem low-cost, when the price of furnishing and different room gadgets are added to the lease, worth sentiment adjustments. Many Muster flats, however, come furnished.
To drive affordability, Babalola stated, Muster margins are ridiculously low as much as the purpose the place the enterprise at this level is a social enterprise.
However away from the fee, Muster flats will not be widespread. The platform has targeted extra on premium areas in Lagos and Abuja.
With tens of millions of individuals residing on the Lagos Mainland, just a few homes on Muster can be found there. Many of the homes listed are often in posh areas like Lekki, Maryland and Abuja, the place lease is costly. This is hardly preferrred in a rustic the place greater than 50% of the inhabitants dwell in poverty.
Babalola admits they havent carried out sufficient to focus on residential neighbourhoods on the Lagos Mainland and different non-premium areas. He shared that there are plans to onboard property house owners in additional areas like Ikeja, probably the most business and populated neighbourhoods in Lagos.
The corporate may present extra budget-friendly housing when it launches its new platform known as Musterlite.
Babalola didn’t go into particulars concerning the product, however in response to its web site Musterlite will introduce month-to-month funds in all places for everybody in addition to versatile rental contracts.
Musterlite is going to do much more to unlock rooms from the extra conventional guys who this entire tech factor is simply over their heads, he stated.
However I believe weve achieved what we wish to obtain in making an attempt to drive affordability, he added.
Constructing an unique Muster group
Because of its choices and accessible areas to this point Muster is actively constructing a group of high-quality subscribers and homes.
Weve constructed a really inclusive but unique group, Babalola stated recognizing that Muster flats are expensive.
It conducts fee eligibility checks on potential subscribers to know if the consumer can afford to pay Muster rents when due.
Financially wholesome subscribers can go on to pay month-to-month or quarterly rents and different perks corresponding to sponsored gymnasium subscriptions. Subscribers who fail to cross the eligibility verify must pay their rents upfront to scale back the danger of defaulting on funds.
We’re at zero % defaults which is nice, Babalola stated.
Obianuju says she likes that many members of the Muster group are like-minded professionals. I have a tendency to satisfy individuals who work in corporations like McKinsey, Stanbic, KudiMoney, and theyre all Muster subscribers, she stated.
Its simply good seeing like-minded folks coming again late at night time, getting up within the morning, so having to have interaction with them and simply realising that Im not alone on this loopy Lagos, Obianuju added.
2020 might be a giant yr for Muster. It is trying to shut a funding spherical and will increase to Ghana.
However the principle focus is on the way it competes towards OList, Jiji and devoted rental platforms like Fibre and Spleet.
Opera-owned OList has prioritised the Nigerian actual property market, valuing it at $20 billion. Jiji, however, says actual property is one in every of its greatest income streams and just lately raised $21 million as competitors within the classifieds house hits up. Fibre and Spleet are comparable corporations to Muster and likewise provide specialised rental providers.