Mr. Femi Oluwalose Showunmi is the Chairman and CEO of Phemy Showunmi and company Limited, a real estate marketing, consultancy, development and construction firm. Showunmi is a mathematics graduate of Ambrose Ali University, a School of Estate graduate and a member of Association of Estate Agents in Nigeria (AEAN) which is being midwifed by Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV).
In this interview with Elsie Godwin of Nigeria Real Estate hub, Showunmi identifies finance as the major problem in offsetting the housing deficit in the country. He said the banks are indirectly killing the real estate industry in Nigeria. He also clarified associational levels in estate agency and its importance.
The truth of the matter is, I will not support the belief that we do not have a body. That is why we have ESVARBON (Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria). The duty of ESVARBON is to harness every one of us together and that they are doing. When we are talking of the practice of the profession, I want you to note that, the agency aspect of it is very wide and it provide the opportunity for those who do not even know how to write their name to say “I have somebody who wants to rent your house” and that in itself is the reason why you see so many people in the practise but we do have ESVARBON that regulate the activity of the profession in Nigeria.
If an agent who isn’t under ESVARBON does something wrong, can ESVARBON take up the case?
Lagos state as we speak now is registering all those who are practising estate agency in the state – LASRETRAD. It’s going to take time before they come up with the action and the implication of whoever is not registered at the end is closing their offices.
Lagos state has taken a step towards curbing the activities in the state and which other state may still and can still emulate in the future. Before you can be a registered member of LASRETRAD you must belong to an association, either NIESV, AEAN, or any other known association in the state.
I don’t think the many association of agents is peculiar only in Nigeria, we have such all over the world.
What do you think can be done to sanitise the practice of estate agency in Nigeria?
The step already being taken by Lagos state is a welcome development, however, I want you to know that education is key to sanitising the practice of this profession. If you are uneducated, you won’t be able to know your left from your right. Education is key to it, sensitization is very important.
What’s the major problem in practicing real estate generally in Nigeria, considering the 17million housing deficit?
The major problem is finance. Unlike what you have in developed country where the interest rate is about 0.3% or 0.5% or at 5% maximum, here in Nigeria is a different case. The banks are not helping us at all. They are the one indirectly, maybe unknown to them, killing the real estate industry. Finance is a major problem. Federal mortgage is not doing enough. If the finances are there for us at a single digit rate then things will be made easier. I have a business plan as we speak, the business will in each of the local government in Lagos state for example, build minimum of 40flats in each of the local government, and you can multiply that by the 57 LCD we have in Lagos state. In developed countries, it is mandatory for the banks to support companies but the reverse is the case here in Nigeria.
Advice to clients/principals on real estate transactions?
Look for those who are established. Established in the sense that, the individual must have an office and be registered with an association so you know where to go to if there is a problem.
AEAN is of advantage to any other association in Nigeria because NIESV is a known body and it gave birth to AEAN which every members of NIESV are automatic members of AEAN and AEAN members are also registered with ESVARBON which is the household umbrella of the profession.