LBDI Commences Historical Mortgage Scheme

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(R-l) Dr. Jones presents certificate of ownership to a beneficiary as LBDI CEO, John B.S. Davies III, looks on
(R-l) Dr. Jones presents certificate of ownership to a beneficiary as LBDI CEO, John B.S. Davies III, looks on
Photo Credit: LBDI
The Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) has begun taking ownership of Matadi Estate in a historical arrangement that witnessed the Bank commence the payment of rents to the National Housing Authority (NHA) on behalf of tenants who had been vetted and cleared by NHA and LBDI.

Matadi Estate was built for low income earners over three decades ago and has been managed by the NHA with tenants paying their rents directly to the authority.

But a historical mortgage deal struck between LBDI and NHA now has the NHA gradually relinquishing ownership of the estate to the Bank which is paying tens of thousands of United States Dollars to NHA on behalf of the tenants.

Under the agreement, LBDI is required to settle the balance arrears owed by each of the tenants to NHA after which the tenants will pay back LBDI’s money over a ten-year period and take full ownership of their homes, thanks to a recent US$10 million mortgage finance loan given LBDI by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). Some of the Matadi Estate tenants owe NHA up to US$16,000.

The LBDI mortgage program is however not restricted to only Matadi Estate residents alone. It is a nationwide program that allows gainful income earners to benefit and own their own homes.

At LBDI’s corporate head office yesterday, the Bank’s Management issued symbolic certificates of home ownership to nine tenants from Matadi Estate and other parts of Monrovia. Some of those who received certificates for their homes include Mr. Adam V. Kamara, Madam Doris V. Nelson, Mr. John B. Gbozee, Mr. Martin N. Brown, Gerald Assad, and Mrs. Odell Erskine, amongst others.

The event, which took place in the presence of CBL Executive Governor Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, some Board of Governors of the CBL as well as beneficiaries and stakeholders, marked the official launch of the Bank’s mortgage financing program.

In welcome remarks, LBDI president &chief executive officer (CEO) John B. S. Davies III, thanked the CBL for making available US$10 million for the program and promised to meet the expectation of the CBL and the government to create affordable housing for Liberians.

Mr. Davies announced that his bank has received over 90 applications from interested Liberians from across the country since the commencement of the program.

He disclosed that out of the 90 applications received, Management has approved about 40 applications under the “own your own home” aspect of the mortgage program.

He told the gathering that the monetary value of the applications that are expected to be approved between now and March 15, 2013 is over US$2 million. “We believe that this is an encouraging start for this mortgage program,” he said. The LBDI CEO however reminded Liberians that mortgages within the context of a country going through reconstruction, do not start easy.

“We must however ensure that the challenges we have to confront in dealing with according our people the right mortgage products are dealt with within the context of our reality,” he added.

Mr. Davies explained that necessary due diligence have to be done on all applications before approval; taking into consideration the legal and regulatory environment.

According to him, persons in possession of administrator deeds for property and wanting to benefit from the mortgage program have to get court degrees. He assured tenants and potential beneficiaries of the LBDI mortgage program that the delay some of them are experiencing in getting their projects processed does not amount to their denials.

“We need to do proper due diligence,” he added. In his intervention, CBL Executive Governor Dr. Joseph Mills Jones thanked LBDI Management for the bold step in adding innovation to the housing program.

“This shows that when you are committed and willing to think outside the box, you can achieve,” he said.

According to the CBL boss, it was now time that Liberians become more innovative and do away with the “same old ways of doing things. This has not taken us anywhere.”

“If we are satisfied that doing things the same old way is good for us, then let us continue and remain where we are,” the CBL boss noted.

He indicated however that if Liberians are not satisfied with the same old way of doing things, then they must do things differently and move forward.

Dr. Jones extolled the LBDI boss for assuring that the Bank’s housing program is not just a Monrovia program.

“We need more people from the rural counties to benefit so that they can own decent homes for themselves and their families,” he added.

Jones reminded Liberians that “we all have a long way to go to develop the mortgage industry in Liberia.” He assured that the CBL, as a monetary authority, is prepared to play its part and “we call on all public institutions to equally play their parts.”

“They must, again, think outside the box and think innovatively,” the CBL boss stated.

Dr. Jones also assured the LBDI Management that the CBL is with them and will continue to support its mortgage program. Earlier, NHA Managing Director Mr. Samuel W. Thompson remarked that a ten-year mortgage loan is grounding-breaking in Liberia and is a very important building bloc in the financial architecture of the country.

According to Mr. Thompson, the housing sector is an engine of growth and a critical instrument for employment generation.

He said NHA has already issued deeds to residents of Barnesville, Stephen Tolbert, and a number of estates. Meanwhile, the NHA boss announced that today, February 28, 2013 is the final deadline for mortgage applicants to apply for settlement.

According to Mr. Thompson, the decision is one that has been reached at the highest level and that “tenants will have to take notice of this and act accordingly.” He said NHA’s arrangement with LBDI is in the best interest of the tenants and the economy as a whole.

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mr. John Gbozee praised the collaboration between CBL, NHA and LBDI “that has led to a successful mortgage program for us.”

“We have waited so long for this day,” Gbozee added.

Former LBDI CEO now president-elect of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce Francis A. Dennis, Jr. observed that mortgage financing is critical to reviving the Liberian economy.

“Mortgages are very critical instruments for collateral,” he said. The ceremony was marked by symbolic signing and the issuance of land deeds to the beneficiaries.