This narrative was first shared on February 2, 2015 at the onset of the Economic recession. It is a story about how a real estate top shot encountered his best real estate deal yet whilst just a mere real estate agent.
Without mincing words, I can tell you that it is not everybody that is feeling the cash crunch. Yes, no matter how much the so-called economic recession is played up in the dailies and certain sectors of the economy, people still have good money to invest in the enterprise of their dreams. In fact, it is in the midst of this “dryness” that some people have struck goldmine and with all humility, I am privileged to be one of them.
Did I study estate management? No. Estate management was something I just picked up somehow, someway in my many adventures in life…but overtime, I saw myself falling in love with the practice.
A couple of years back, precisely in 2001, I graduated from the Enugu State University of Technology having studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering. The moment I stepped out of school I knew I was waiting in line in the overpopulated labour market.
However, while in school I constantly reminded myself that I will not subject myself to being an “applicant”; knocking on doors and sticking my CV in the face of anybody who cared(or did not care) to listen. Not that I have anything against anyone looking for a job, in fact, I would appreciate a job if one came my way but I was not going to wait for things to happen… I was determined to make things happen.
So in between time, instead of loafing around in the guise of looking for a white-collar job, I spent a major part of my day visiting various building sites and offering my services to handle the electrical part of their job for them. It wasn’t easy at all in the beginning but if memory serves me right, by the third week, my doggedness paid off because I landed my first “electrical” job. It wasn’t much though but after that, I started getting referrals to work in other sites. It was not an everyday thing but when placed alongside my other legitimate “hustles”, it was enough to keep body and soul together.
On one of my “electrical” jobs, I bumped into the agent in charge of the building I was working on and immediately we hit it off. Our relationship blossomed so fast, you will think we had known for ages. It didn’t take long for him to start showing me the ropes in estate agency because he discovered I had a keen interest in the field and a knack for business.
If I had little to do, he will take me along when negotiating deals and anytime a transaction paid off, he did not hesitate to give me a little something! He hid nothing from me and before long he encouraged me to rent an office as it will increase my stock market value both as an agent and as an electrical engineer.
Business with my friend as a mutual partner was not bad at all because at least, 90% of the properties I advertised were his briefs and anytime a deal was closed, we had no issues as per profit sharing. We were virtually like brothers because we practically did everything together. However something tragic happened.
Four years after we met, he traveled to his hometown to celebrate the yuletide and he never came back. He died of a mysterious ailment. His sudden demise affected me much more than I imagined. I lost appetite for a lot of things especially the estate agency business. I promised myself that the moment I return to Lagos after his burial, I would quit estate agency and try to get a job…something that will help me forget this heart -wrenching experience quickly. However that was not to be.
One fateful day, some months after I returned, I dragged myself to the office to pick the last of my personal effects. No sooner had I settled myself in before I heard a soft knock on the door. My first impulse was to ignore the knock but it persisted and I was forced to check who was at the door.
I discovered it was my dad’s bosom friend and after exchanging pleasantries, he told me his reason for coming. He wanted to sell his semi-completed building sitting on two plots of land. I politely asked him the reasons behind his proposed actions and after hearing him out, I tried as much as possible to dissuade him from it because if anything, I was hardly interested.
However, the old man stuck to his guns and out of courtesy, I collected the documents from him as he came with it. Another tough aspect was that the property was in a remote place, very deep inside Iba town off Badagry Expressway, and I recall visiting him in the past and thinking to myself how he turned up in such a place and even agreed to part with his money for property in that part of town. The only good thing about the transaction was that his asking price was too good for any prospective buyer to turn down and his terms with me was that I could sell at any amount. He was good, as long as he gets just his asking price.
As I said earlier, I was almost done with estate agency. Much against my will, I was going to apply for a job and I had a meeting in this regard with an old school-mate working with a Lebanese engineering firm. As we met and discussed over some food, the conversation veered into the reason I left estate agency and how three days back, someone forced a brief into my hand on a property in a particular part of town.
The moment I mentioned the part of town, he picked so much interest that it started to get on my nerves because the property in my care was not the purpose of our meeting… I needed a new job, a new challenge and we had barely reached a conclusion on the matter. Why the sudden loss of interest in my appeal for a job?
At the end of the day, he asked a lot of probing questions about the property and said that he had a buyer on stand-by and that whatever I sell it for, I should use my “church-mind” and give him something deserving. I took his grand statement with a pinch of salt and said to myself that whatever happens, it shall be well.
The next day as I stepped out of the shower around 9a.m, I saw his missed calls. Immediately I returned the call, thinking it was for the job. The last thing on my mind was the property we discussed about the previous day, after all, he can’t be that fast. However, on calling him, he said I should start rushing down to my office that they had been waiting for me for over thirty minutes.
I thought about his statement; I said to myself “they”, who were ‘‘they’’? In two shakes of a lamb’s tail, I hopped on a bike to my office. On reaching the office, I saw my ex-schoolmate with a gaunt looking Lebanese whom he introduced as his boss.
Cutting to the chase, the “oyibo” immediately asked me how much the property was going for and if I had the documents for his perusal. His direct approach nearly threw me off balance but the businessman in me rose to the fore and I pretended I didn’t hear his question while acting as if I had other important things to attend to on my desk. I was playing for time, in the process racking my brain for the best price to tell this man.
All of a sudden, something just prodded me to multiply my principal’s asking price by four and with my heart pounding wildly, that was what I told the white guy. He calmly told me that he knew the area very well and that I should lower my asking price by N500,000. I thought I was in a dream I didn’t want to wake up from! Still I feigned a great deal of reluctance and after negotiating for some minutes, I agreed to knock off N250,000, so that at least our relationship will go beyond that one particular deal.
Two days later, I knew things were heating up when he sent some people for inspection. Three days later, the deal was in the bag and what I made gave me real financial freedom! My modest bungalow is just one of the offspring of that singular transaction. I also had enough left over to invest in other areas of interest.
As for my friend, what I gave him surprised him so much that he came with his wife to show his appreciation. All these happened in 2008 at the height of the recession and since then, I have not looked back. I ate my words and remained in the sector and it has been one of the best decisions in my life.
After sometime, my friend confided in me that the Lebanese firm was buying properties in that area to put up their permanent site with a ware-house, factory and staff quarters in one vicinity for better supervision. He went on to say that they were desperate to have that property as they had acquired some previously in that area and that mine was the cheapest they got from the so-called remote area! I said ah! I could have made much more, but I am more than grateful to God for everything.
- Never hesitate to spread the word about what you do and what you have on offer.
- Never write off what you have to offer, it just might be the missing piece in somebody’s puzzle.
- Always package yourself and your products very well. It makes clients’ feel you know what you are doing and where you are going.
Pius Ugoala is the MD of Pius & Kenneth Property Konsult.