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Government should Build Affordable Houses For Nigerians – Okoro

What motivated you to venture into the Real Estate business in Nigeria?

Well, that would be the desire to contribute to the development of land resource in Nigeria and to effectively contribute to the economic development of the country. Also, I am a professional in the field of real estate management. Therefore, the burden of running the real estate business in Nigeria cannot be left in the hands of non-professionals. As a real estate magnate, how do you think prospective property owners can have their properties insured? First and foremost, one needs to understand the basis of insurance which simply means a kind of policy that is taken against possible unforeseen occurrence; it is taken on life, motor-cycles, on properties and host of many others. If a property is gutted by fire, the need for it to be repaired for the purpose of human habitation becomes important. As long as the house was insured from the very beginning, the insurance company takes care of the damages incurred. It is also important to know whatever happens, a landlord pays premium every year and that makes the insurance company answerable to the landlord.

What is your take on house-owners charging more than a year rent as well as the issue of agency?

To start with, it is unlawful to collect more than one year rent from a tenant except for areas like Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Government Reserved Areas (GRAs). A landlord puts the cost of his apartment at certain figure and makes a demand of a –two year tenancy rate; would you tell him you don’t need the property again because Lagos State says   it must be one year rent? It then becomes a matter of choice and decision. On the issue of the agency fee, according to my professional body, i.e. the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), the rate that is allowed by law is 10% not 5% as quacks do collect. I think what is being witnessed here and there is mass extortion from prospective renters because usually the landlords are supposed to pay the agent the fee not the person getting the apartment, to relieve themselves all this. That is why the professionals are needed to render these services instead of the roadside agents.

What then can be done to check-mate all this anomalies since this law seems not to be working?

The truth is that governments need to work hard to be able to put all this in place. First, they should have a record of all properties and then take it up from there. But it is also important to note that the government on their part should strive to build lower and affordable housing for the masses because you will find out that most government owned properties are highly expensive to acquire than the usual apartments from landlords.

What would be your advice to youths who aspire to go into this line of business?

I will tell them that it is important for them to have passion for the business. I will equallyadvise them to get a formal education in estate management, and then abide by the laws of the profession.

What can you say are the challenges faced by Real Estate practitioners in Nigeria?

We don’t have access to funds that would make us in turn realise the maximum benefits inherent in the business. Again, the presence of the Land Use Act is another challenge hindering exploits we are supposed to be making in this business in Nigeria. The Nigerian mortgage system too does not encourage borrowing on the part of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. These and many others are the challenges facing us this line of business.

What is your unique selling point as an Estate Surveyor and Valuer?

Once you don’t cut corners, then you are likely to go far. When you take customer satisfaction as a priority, that client will refer you to others. Even though the market is competitive, everybody has his clientele. If you know what you are doing, you will always carve a niche for yourself.

How do you then unwind, sir?

I play golf. The greater part of my life has been spent playing golf. I play golf at least four hours straight, three times weekly. That is my next passion after real estate.

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