Oluwafemi Taiwo is an Internet executive, long-time entrepreneur & strategic advisor. He is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of PrivateProperty.com.ng – Nigeria’s number 1 Real Estate portal. In this interview with Elsie Godwin of Nigeria Real Estate Hub (NREH), he reveals that selling properties online hasn’t become the magic pill for real estate marketers yet but that there has been tremendous growth in the mobile internet and which will in the nearest future, increase the number of Real Estate Transactions done online.
Read excerpts below:
NREH: What are the challenges of selling properties on an e-commerce platform and how are you tackling it?
There is no doubt that the internet aids greatly in driving sales, and real estate is no exception. In fact, it is currently redesigning commerce and will continue to reshape the real estate sector but it hasn’t become the magic pill for real estate marketers yet because there are still millions of people who are yet to embrace this new technology age.
NREH: What do you think the future of buying real estate looks like; can everything about property buying totally move online?
There has been a tremendous growth in mobile internet which is the popular means for people to access the web, thereby making selling online one of the most effective channels to drive sales, as it has been challenging every other known route of grabbing the attention of buyers. In future, this would definitely increase the number of transactions done online but, I doubt if everything about property buying will ‘totally’ move online because no one would make payment for a property that hasn’t been assessed in person.
NREH: In terms of competition, how do they compete favourably with terrestrial agents right now?
It is more favourable because one can review as many properties as possible in different locations in a short time before going to look at them in person on the other, visiting terrestrial agents is a lot more stressful.
NREH: On housing deficit; what do you think the government should focus on which will serve as tackling housing deficit from the root cause?
Housing inadequacy is felt more by the less privileged, even though the middle class have started to feel the pain of the acute housing shortage in Nigeria. I think the Government should focus more on increasing housing supply, by undertaking construction of public housing projects and formulating policies that will invariably lead to private sector participation and ownership in order to reduce our housing deficit.
NREH: Can online portals be integrated to serving the greater purpose of solving the housing problems in Nigeria?
Yes, it can. At privateproperty.com.ng part of our objectives is to make it possible for people looking for affordable properties for sale or to rent in Nigeria to easily find information on available listings being advertised by estate agents or private individuals; thereby making it easy, safe and stress free for people to buy or rent their dream properties. The government also needs to do intervene by strengthening federal mortgage banks, removing bottlenecks and bureaucracies that comes with buying or renting a home.
NREH: Lagos state says it has launched an e platform for CofO acquisition; how efficient do you think this step has been and can be?
I believe it is a step in the right direction. The objective of the project was to establish a fully automated and computerized method for issuing and verifying a Certificate of Occupancy and increase public and investor confidence by instilling integrity in the Certificates of occupancy issued by the state government. With its state of the art security features it will help avoid fraudulent practices.
NREH: Over view of Online Real Estate Business.
The real estate industry in Nigeria has become one of the fastest growing industries contributing to the nations GDP. With the improvement in high speed Internet connection and the explosive growth in smartphone usage, potential buyers are investing much of their time evaluating and comparing properties online. According to Internet World Stats, there are 92 million Nigerians using the Internet. It is evidently clear that Online Real Estate Portals are playing a major role in influencing potential property buyers. People have access to loads of information and data related to properties, thus helping them make more informed decisions.