APPRAISING USERS’ SATISFACTION LEVEL OF FACILITIES MANAGEMENT SERVICES IN CONDOMINIUM APARTMENTS

ABSTRACT

 Increased urbanisation in Lagos State has brought about the challenges of inadequate housing for individuals and the State as a whole. This research study aimed at appraising users’ satisfaction level on facilities management services provided in typical condominium apartments in Lagos State with a case study of Egerton Place Estate at Lekki, Lagos State. The research study identified some research questions which answers were provided for subsequently.  Some of the research questions asked are: What are the service quality dimensions in managing condominium apartments? Are the residents satisfied or dissatisfied with the services? These questions were answered with the aid of a structured questionnaire in which out of the fifty eight residents administered to, forty of the questionnaires were retrieved and used for the analysis thereafter. The analysis was done using software called SPSS for the frequency distribution and a SERVQUAL Model for the ranking of the indicators listed in the sample questionnaire and ranked according to their mean item score respectively. Findings show that majority of the respondents expected more but their perceptions were moderate and also majority of the respondents are willing to spread the word-of-mouth about the Estate to prospective customers and will recommend the Estate Developer Company to their friends and others. The research therefore recommends that: improvement should be standardised in the services provided to meet with the world standard of facilities/services provision and facilities management service providers should always identify the most expected service(s) and understand the psyche of the users in order to meet their required satisfaction rather than devoting resources to least expected facilities or services.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background to the Study

Increased urbanisationin Lagos has brought the challenge of inadequate housing schemes for home buyers. Government at various levels have not been able to do much in providing accommodation for the growing population.  Aside from shortfalls in supply, the housing conditions of public housing complexes are not of good quality. A lot of problems jeopardize the well-being and quality of life of residents (Ocholi, 1992 cited in Ukoha & Beamish, 1996; David Jiboye, 2012; Rahman, 2014; E. Eyiah-Botwe, 2015). According to Ocholi, (1992), some of these problems include degeneration of the health of the inhabitants due to overcrowding and trash that litters the environment, transportation shortages and poor neighbourhood facilities which include lack of designed playgrounds for children, multipurpose hall, parking areas, safety facilities for the disabled.

Torbical and Stroh (2001) research suggested that service is the most important component in determining overall satisfaction. However, previous research have shown how residents of public housinghave expressed dissatisfaction with their housing stock, being low quality housing that do not adequately match their needs, owing to lack of basic features such as good roads, schools, refuse disposal systems, security system, waste disposal, portable water, stable electricity, children playgrounds, community halls, car parks, facilities for the disables, fire escape route, fire prevention and fighting devices, adequate facilities management services, management response to repairs, and handling of residents’ complaints (Salleh et al 2011; David Jiboye, 2012; E. Eyiah-Botwe, 2015).

Buying a house is an important event in a person’s life. House Buyers Association of Malaysia (HBA), (2002) referred to it as the single and biggest capital investment in one’s lifetime. Housing has progressed from its early inception of being a basic shelter towards a portrayer of personal success and aspiration. It now involves activities that generate economic benefits and improve quality of life. Housing should provide residents with safety, comfort, privacy, good health, quality services and value for money (Manuel Jose & Pedro Simoes, 2003; Nor’Aini, 2007 cited in Mustafa & Ghazali, 2012).

The foregoing trend have resulted in the surge of private real estate developers, who, having noticed this gap have emerged and going into micro-scale urban planning called gated communities which most times comprise housing types in forms of condominium apartments (Danquah and Afram, 2014). These condominium apartments are in high demand in Lagos, Nigeria, due to population which is growing exponentially, scarcity of land, and because public housing schemes, aside from being insufficient, do not meet the expectations of home buyers in terms of facilities management services.

For about two decades now, real estate developers have shifted their focus in housing provision from the low income earners to the middle and upper-middle income dwellers due to the ever-increasing demand for these types of housing (Danquah and Afram, 2014).

According to the African Development Bank Market Brief report of 2011, the middle class is a neglected cross-section of the society who account for 34.5million people or 26.8% of the population. This has positive implications for housing development types which is acceptable by this class of home buyers.

Studies have shown that good housing have contributed to overall housing satisfaction especially in private gated community schemes. Nevertheless, there is high competition among developers to take over the market. They invest on different dimensions of service quality and costs in order to satisfy customers and obtain a good share of the market (Grubor et al., n.d.; Senaratne et al., 2006; Zadkarim et al., 2011).

Despite the competition, top companies like ‘Aircom Nigeria Limited’ expect to perform well in the next two to three years due to high unbilled sales. As at 2012, the company had successfully completed and delivered to various buyer groups several condominium apartments units in the following estates: Northern Foreshore Estate, Friends Colony Estate, Napier Garden Estate, Egerton Place Estate, Bourdillon Court Estate, Milverton Court Estate (AirCom Nigeria Limited/About Us, 2015).

In a competitive market as witnessed among private real estate developers in Nigeria, most especially in Lagos, certain factors are responsible for the choice homebuyers make when purchasing condominium apartments. These factors lead to customer satisfaction and can help to increase customer loyalty. Such earned loyalty will make existing customers to advocate for a property developer by engaging prospective buyers in positive word of mouth, help to increase their market share and hence stay ahead of competition. In order to achieve this feat, a real estate developer must provide superior service quality and ensure that existing customers are satisfied because various research have shown that providing superior quality and keeping customers satisfied are rapidly becoming the ways for companies to stand out among competitors (Parasuraman et al., 1985; Zeljko M.Torbica and Robert C. Stroh., 2001). It is against this backdrop that this aimed aimed at appraising users’ satisfaction level with the facilities management services provided by Aircom Nigeria Limited in one of its highly admired condominium apartments in the Lekki suburb of Lagos – The Egerton Place Estate.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Increased urbanisation and population growth has led to shortfall in supply of public housing. Aside from shortfalls in supply, the conditions of public housing complexes are not of good quality. A lot of problems jeopardize the well-being and quality of life of residents (Ocholi, 1992, cited in Ukoha and Beamish, 1997). Some of these problems include degeneration of the health of the inhabitants due to overcrowding and trash that litter the environment, transportation shortages and poor neighbourhood facilities which include lack of designed playgrounds for children, multipurpose hall, parking areas, safety equipment and facilities for the disabled.

To overcome these problems and provide acceptable condominium housing types for the people, it is important to look into how successful private real estate development companies have addressed the issues with particular regards to the management of their facilities and property assets, which have make them successful and increased the demands for their housing stocks.

1.3       Research Questions

The research is thus aimed at providing answers to the following research questions:

        i.            How did the facilities management team perform with regard to users’ expectations and perceptions of services across the different SERVQUAL Dimensions

      ii.            What are the facilities management team’s areas of strengths and weaknesses

    iii.            What will be the behavioural intentions of users from their experience of facilities management services in the estate of the case study

1.4      Aim of the Study

The aim of the study is to identify and appraise the levels of what constitute residents’ satisfaction with regard to provision of facilities management services in the study area (Egerton Place Estate, Lekki, Lagos).

1.5      Objectives of the Study

        i.            Evaluate facilities management team’s performance with regard to users’ expectations and perceptions of service across the different SERVQUAL Dimensions

      ii.            Determine facilities management team’s areas of strengths and weaknesses

    iii.            Determine users’ behavioural intention from their experience of facilities management services in the case study estate

1.6      Purpose of the Study

Studies have been conducted on user satisfaction of residential estates (Parasuraman et al., 1985; Ukoha & Beamish, 1997; Zeljko M.Torbica and Robert C. Stroh., 2001; Daramola, 2006; Aribigbola, 2008; David, 2010, Mohammad, Gambo, & Omirin, 2012). Nevertheless, there are no information as to how these residential satisfaction and/or dissatisfaction data would be useful to real estate developers as feedback on existing projects and feedforward to further improve on future designs. This creates a gap as it becomes problems for many developers who would have found such information useful in helping them maintain residential user satisfaction, stay ahead of competition and ultimately help maintain the company’s bottom line. Therefore this study sought to look into how real estate developers can use service quality dimensions of SERVQUAL model to test their facilities management services, detect their strengths and consolidate on them, and also detect their weaknesses and improve on them. By so doing, they will achieve high residential satisfaction, increase customer loyalty, achieve positive word of mouth from residents and increase company’s market share.

1.7     Significance of the Study

This study will benefit three participants consisting of the Facilities Managers, the Real Estate Developers, and the Home Buyers. The study will reflect how the facilities management services are rated by users who are the beneficiaries. This will enable them improve on service provision since it is key to continuously satisfying condominium users. The real estate developers will use the data as feedback to improve on present service provision and as feedforward into future designs and construction in order to ultimately increase demand for their housing stock and preserve their reputation in the industry. The homebuyers would be happy to have invested in a home of choice and realised value for money in terms of home acquisition and top class services that come with it. This will consequently create a ‘win – win’ situation for all concerned parties.

1.8      Scope of the Study

The scope of the study is limited to the real estate development sector within the south-western geo-political zone of Nigeria; in particular the Lekki sub-urb of Lagos State. It should have been ideal to extend the research to other states in Nigeria, however, the study restricted the scope to the south-western geo-political zone of Nigeria because a study of the entire country would make conclusions unnecessarily wide, varied and incapable of clear interpretation. More so, factors that operate in the real estate development sector in Nigeria is not the same thing across the various regions of the country. Thus, a study restricted to the south-western geo-political zone of Nigeria. This selection of this geo-political zone will allow the researcher to form definite conclusions, amenable to clear interpretations and create a platform for further research that can be extended to other parts of the country.

It would have been ideal to extend the concept of facilities management to all sectors of the economy, however, this would be cumbersome and unrealistic due to the varying sizes of other sectors, couple with their differing problems and standards. This would merely result in over-generalised and unrealistic results which may not be acceptable by scholars, industries and stakeholders. A study devoted to the real estate sector on the other hand, would afford the researcher a more concentrated study in an industry considered as one of the most lucrative in Nigeria.

Also, the time frame allowed for the research as well as associated logistics in covering the whole country make it imperative that the research be limited to the south-western geo-political zone of Nigeria.

Lastly, there are many residential estates, private and public in Nigeria. It is not possible in the face of various limitations to cover all the estates. Therefore this research is focused on a privately owned and managed residential estate in the Lekki sub-urb of Lagos State in the south-west geo-political zone of Nigeria.

This study is an exploratory survey research trying to measure quality management in residential estate within Nigeria. In this context, the research relied extensively on research questions in the form of questionnaire in achieving its aim and objectives.

1.9      Limitations of the Study

It is worthy of note that the criterion of residential satisfaction is not without its limitations (Francescato 2002). This must be kept in mind when interpreting the results of this research, but do not invalidate the utility of its criterion.

Due to the constraint of time for this research, the author has done study in a specific location. However, no urban location can be representative of all cities in the country. Geographical limitation as introduced above may inevitably introduce limited bias into the survey, which could limit the application of the results to geographically dissimilar areas. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that the results could at least form the framework for future research of other far away locations in the country.

Also as highlighted by Asika, (1991), there are various barriers to the collection and exchange of information due to fear of commercial confidentiality. This is even more pronounced if the source of the information is privately owned. That was the author’s experience in the case study location.

Limiting the research work to real estate sector is another major drawback of this work in that it hampers the application of its findings to other sectors of the economy without caution.

Lastly, future research should examine factors related to the limitations of the current study. More rigorous and detailed testing of measurement scales in Nigeria would further our knowledge of cross-cultural measurement issues. It is possible that some scales developed in Western culture (e.g. service quality measure) may not be suitable for the Nigerian culture.

1.10     Study Area

Egerton Place Estate emerged as a residential location in 2013. It is one of the private residential estates facilitated by Aircom Nigeria Limited after its acquisition of 62 hectares of land in Lekki Lagos, in its bid to be a major player in the real estate development industry in Nigeria. It is situated off the Akanni Ajiran Street, Lekki, approximately on Latitude: 6.44861 and Longitude: 3.51555.

The entire mass of land of 62 hectares which was acquired by the developer company (Aircom Nigeria Limited) also accommodates a number of luxury privately developed estates by the same company. Notable among them are: Northern Foreshore Estate – A three phase project with several housing units, Friends Colony Estate, Napier Garden Estate, Bourdillon Court Estate and Milverton Court Estate. Development within these estates include block of flats, terrace houses, duplexes and detached houses.

An important factor peculiar to Egerton Place Estate is the provision of 24 hours electricity as residents are not permitted to bring in electricity generators into the estate. Going by local standards, condition of infrastructure and management services in the estate can be said to be excellent, with coordinated type of developments, well laid out neighbourhood and provision of services which include security, utilities, sewage, waste disposal, treated water supply and so on.

Unlike some other private estates in the Lekki and Victoria Island axis of Lagos, Egerton Place Estate is not prone to any flooding and it is not being affected by rising water levels whenever it rains because it has a well designed and built storm water drainage system which channels water away to the lagoon. This has made it to retain very good road and drainage systems which form part of the visual appeal to any visitor to the estate.

Also the estate has maintained a very serene nature devoid of traffic and any noise pollution because incidents of commercial activities and running of electricity generator are not permitted within the estate. This has made the estate a choice one for residents looking for well managed privately owned estate in Lagos, Nigeria.

1.11     Definition of Terms

Behavioural Intention

“It is defined as a person’s perceived likelihood or “subjective probability that he or she will engage in a given behaviour” (Committee on Communication for Behaviour Change in the 21st Century, 2002, p. 31)”

With regard to this study, Behavioural Intention is the kind of attitude a customer will exhibit after their experience of a service. This could be favourable, if they had a good experience with the service or it could be unfavourable, if the service experienced did not meet their expectations.

Condominium Apartments

Condominiums are most often thought of as apartments in high-rise and higher density residential buildings. However, the Canadian Condominium Buyer’s Guide defines condominium as: “a form of real property ownership that has two distinct parts: you own your condominium apartment to which you get a title, and you also jointly own common property with the other apartments owners in your complex” (Mortgage & Corporation, 2013).

Each condominium type has its own unique features, challenges and opportunities. However, something that is common with condominiums is that they house individual property owners sharing decisions which bother on management, operations and maintenance and shared services (Facilities Management Victoria Pty Ltd, 2012).

Therefore condominium apartments as used in this study refer to the property where an individual owns an apartment and also jointly owns common property with the other apartments’ owners within a building. Such common property that is jointly owned include: swimming pool, gym, crèche, recreational facilities and other common areas.

Condominium apartments could come in the form of:

·    low-rise residential buildings (fewer than four storeys);

·    townhouse or row house complexes;

·    stacked townhouses;

·    duplexes (one unit over another) or a side-by-side;

·

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