Chief Richard Olumba is the Chairman/ CEO of Ever ‘N Dominium Properties Company, in this interview with Adewumi Ojo, he speaks on ease of engaging in Real Estate business in Lagos State, challenges facing practitioners and the way out. Excerpts.
Can you briefly introduce yourself?
It’smy pleasure having you, my names are Chief Richard Olumba, and I run Dominion Evans Estate Agency, with my office here at no. 18, Ago Palace Way, here in Okota.
We are into property merchandise and development so that people can have access to genuine properties to buy or to rent for their activities both residential and commercial. And we are also into brokerage covering relationship with the legal practitioners like the lawyers, who undertake legal aspect when it comes to agreement schedule so these are some of theactivities we are into in the company.
How is real estate fairing in Lagos state?
The business in Lagos state is striving very well, though government is not building adequately but the private sector is also making effort in the provision of accommodation to solve housing problem. In Lagos there’s teeming population and each year people come of age and need accommodation it’s our responsibility to provide accommodation for one purpose or the other so I can say the business in the state is striving very well.There are people who desire accommodation and there are accommodations available for them to take. But what I will say is that there’s a degree of limitation because of the cost of building materials and with people not investing very much in building project because of the economic situation in Nigeria.
How do you view Quack agents’ activities and what government can do to end their illegal activities?
Quackery is in every profession and it’s not absent in the aspect of estate in Lagos state, there are so many quacks who parade themselves, people who say they are agents deceiving people into cheating them. Though there are fake agents but at the same time there are genuine agents that are operating in Lagos state and its environ, for instance I am a registered agent and I’m in an association that is recognized by the government and those of us that belong there, one way or the other have undertaken some certain studies, in service training that qualifies us not to be quack and to make us more professionals but the fake agents cannot deliver because they are not trained to operate and will not be able to satisfy the public. Measures must be put in place to check the extent that quacks operate in estate activities in Lagos state, with that the public will be free to have their desire in acquiring properties. Government must recognize the associations that are in charge more and begin to accredit all the estate agents through their association so that those who do not belong will be sidelined and will have no role to play. The government must also arrange some operations that will check the activities of these fake agents because most of them don’t even have office, even identity card.
They don’t have and they don’t even have registered company. Because in the estate agency practice based on the association, there are prerequisites and conditions we have to be registered even with annual fees and proper upbringing, so that you can give what you have, because in the estate agents practice in Lagos, we organize seminars and trainings to enable or refresh the practising agents to update them in the requirement that they have to exhibit when they come in contact with the public in order to develop quality service. If the government can assist the association through monitoring from time to time, carrying out raids, the operation of fake agents will be limited. If the government can refocus based on this area the activities of fake agents will be controlled in Lagos state.
What are the challenges facing the business and the possible way out?
We have the problem of lack of statistics, we lack statistical data and we need this to know the number of agents, their locations, that way it will be easier to identify the true agents, because those that are not truly registered are the ones causingproblem and are the ones creating fear among the clients in buying properties or erecting apartment.
Another challenge that we need to look into is the relationship of agents and the legal professionals mostly, lawyers operate in such a manner that the estate agents feel cheated in all transactions. As a lawyer, they will have to collect their legal fees while also having an eye on the agency fee, there should be a demarcation between agency fee and the legal fee, so that the agents will partake in the agency fees while the lawyer will partake of the agreement of the legal fee so that when the agent carriesout transaction to completion level, he will reap thebenefit without having any reason to be aggrieved.
Another challenge is the challenge with Nigeria Police, most times the police view agents as culprits, when there’s a complaint made by a client against an agent the police will assume that the agent is the culprit or that the agent is at fault and whereas if you look at it critically, the agent will be innocent. The Nigeria Police should have the understanding and orientation that the estate agent is in a position to practise for the benefit of the public, particularly a registered genuine agent, there should be a demarcation between registered estate agents and the quacks and not to treat everybody as the same. If that bottle neck is removed, it will become better for the estate agents practitioners inLagos state.