Home » Real Estate Interviews » Interview with Jide Odelola; Vice President APICAN pt 2

Interview with Jide Odelola; Vice President APICAN pt 2

NREH: Yes!

Are you not taking money?

NREH: Currently, our paper is online and we are more interested in the stories than in collecting money.

Okay, but I need you to understand me. If somebody comes in here now and says he’s looking for a house and I get him a house, he’s supposed to give me whatever is due to me.

NREH: Your 10% right?

Sometimes it’s not 10%.

NREH: (Chuckles) Why? Because a lot of times, disparity in the percentage you collect causes problems for people and a lot of agents don’t bother to explain until the deed is done

Well in my office here, we try to explain to people if they ask these type of questions.

NREH: For instance, there’s someone I know who paid N350, 000 for a house. 10% of the price is 35, 000 but the agent insisted on collecting nothing but N100, 000. Sadly, the person that moved out left the place in a mess so the person coming in still has to spend money on repairs.

A: That is where I was going when I talked about patience and endurance. If you want to practise real estate agency really and not just because you are hungry or you want to dupe people or are in a haste to make money, you have to persevere and be patient. You also have to be honest. Honesty and trustworthiness is the key in real estate because we are in a position of trust.

If you come to my office looking for a property or a house and you entrust all your savings into my hands, I might look at you as a foolish person and dupe you but I am jeopardising my integrity and my life. For instance at the last training we had at the office, I was telling them I can do without an office or putting up a signboard outside because of the connections I’ve gotten. You can’t see my board flying around these days but I’m making sales. Most of the houses I’m letting out recently are inside and people that want to take them are already on ground.

NREH: That’s also because the demand is more than the supply

Yes, the demand is more than the supply but if you are not honest enough, nobody will introduce anyone to you. When people introduce their friends and families to you, it makes the job easier. I have a lot of people on ground now who are looking for houses because of my integrity and immediately we get, we call you to come and see and decide on the one you like.

If it is directly our own property, it’s a matter of calling our own customers to come and inspect. If you are honest and trustworthy, the sky is the limit for anybody practising real estate

NREH: Irrespective of the area of real estate?

Yes, as long as you are honest or trustworthy. Trustworthiness is very important. Don’t be too covetous to the level that when someone gives you money, you think the person is a fool and want to put every burden that you have on such a person; like the person you were supposed to give N35, 000 and was insisting on taking N100, 000. That is wrong!

NREH: Well, it was paid!

That is too much and the person won’t be happy.

NREH: Yes they were not

But you are supposed to make your client happy.

NREH: I guess he saw they needed the house and were desperate

Yes, they needed the house but were not happy with him. If he had made them happy, they will introduce another person to him and the money he wants to gain from just them, he will eventually gain in the long run and even more. This is what we are teaching our people in APICAN.

We try to enlighten and educate them on why they must be honest. There was a man who wanted to rent a shop and I told him to check very well and make sure the location is suitable for the kind of goods he wanted to sell before he pays me. Unknown to me, I didn’t know the man was taking note of what I was doing. Through him, I’ve gotten about 3 to 5 houses now which I’m managing. That is what many people don’t know about this job. You need to be patient. Another thing is that most people say is that real estate agents are the ones making house rent high. That’s not true!

NREH: So who is responsible then?

Let me put it this way. There are many factors that come into play. One is demand and supply. Because you are desperate and need a place, you don’t have an option but to accept a house that is supposed to go for N200, 000 for N250, 000 but nowadays, people are fighting back little by little.

NREH: How?

When the house rent is much, you will find out that before it goes off the market, it will take time because people will avoid the place. If five different people come for the same price and say this is what they can afford, we will advise the landlord to give it at that price because if the rent is too high, the landlord will pay back.

NREH: Really? How?

For example, if your house is worth 200, 000 but you gave it out at 300, 000 and the tenant ends up owing you one year rent, what you can do is take the person to court. After a long time because court proceedings usually take long, the person is asked when he/she is moving out and he gives a specific date. Eventually, what happens is that you’re frustrated and will end up allowing the tenant to go with the money just because you want him out of the house.

By the time you do your calculations which is the one year rent the tenant owes (N300, 000) plus the money spent going to court which may have lasted 6 months to one year plus the time spent, you’ll see that the landlord has paid back but, if the rent is not so expensive and there’s continuity of payment for such a person, then you will enjoy and not lose any money but landlords don’t like to hear that and that is why it’s very difficult for government to control the real estate business.

What I mean by that is this: two buildings can be adjacent to each other but you can’t compare them. Because one is rented for example say 500, 000, the other landlord also wants to demand for that same price even though his house is not worth that.

NREH: That’s true!

Assuming the one that has no amenities is renting his house out at N20, the one with all the basic amenities will not like to do that. That makes it difficult for government to say all the houses of this nature in this area should be a specific amount because of the difference of the amenities involved.

Scarcity of accommodation also increases house rent because there is constant demand. Even if the rent is high but you can pay the price of the accommodation at that point in time, you will get it easily compared to the person who can’t afford it.

NREH: So what is the place of the new Lagos Tenancy Law that is in operation right now?

The Tenancy Law is very good and it’s also a good thing that the government brings in stakeholders to discuss issues and enlighten them before they pass certain laws. At least we’ve had interviews on Choice FM about two times concerning this tenancy law and we made them to understand the law is good but people are not enlightened to know the advantages involved

NREH: Can you tell me one or two advantages in the law?

If you look at the former law, it gives tenants unnecessary chances to cheat on the landlord but that is not the case with this law. This law regulates the landlord-tenant issue very well but what the landlord and the public at large understand is the one year rent out of everything the law addresses.

NREH: That means the public needs more enlightenment?

Yes. They do so they can be well informed about the other benefits of the new law. For instance in the former law, if I want to quit you but you still have three or four months’ rent, I can’t give you notice to quit until when it expires but now I can give it to you even while your rent is yet to expire.

NREH: So now I don’t need to wait anymore?

Yes, you don’t!

NREH: So six months into the tenure and six months left, I can tell you I want you out?

Even if it’s not six months left, if it is only two months left, you can still give six months’ notice

NREH: Even one month?

Yes, you can still give six months’ notice. If it is six months to expiration, you can give six months’ notice. If it is five months, you can still give six months. If it is three months, you can still give six months but before you can’t do that; you have to wait till the tenancy expires before you can give a six months’ notice but now you can give at any point in time

NREH: That means the landlord is king now?

No!

NREH: So what does the law have for the tenant?

For the tenant, your landlord cannot throw you out anyhow without giving you proper notice. A tenant too can go to mediation centre; you can take your landlord to court

NREH: How many people know about these mediation centres?

Well, that is the problem and that is why we need to talk about it more. Many people’s mentality about court issue is that once you take me to court, we are enemies. That’s not the case. They are to mediate, agree with each other and settle things amicably. That’s what the mediation centres are meant for but many people don’t know. That is why enlightenment is important.

The disadvantage in the tenancy law however is the one year rent, although some landlords are trying to obey now. Most of the houses we recently rented out were for one year but for how much?

NREH: That’s the problem! Because it’s one year, the price goes up

Yes! Where they are paying N2000 for a room before, the landlord says it is now N3000 or N3500 because he needs money. Who carries the burden? Is it not the people the government is trying to protect?

NREH: That means there’s nothing for the tenant besides that mediation process which means the law has to be reviewed again

It has to be. That’s why when they are making this type of law, they need to carry along the people on the field. The government needs to do research

NREH: What if they have done so and they are not interested because many of them are landlords and are looking at it from their own angle?

Well, that is why their law will not work and dishonesty is prevailing in the society

NREH: The way it is right now, the tenancy law is really not very practicable

It isn’t because they cannot control the price but in a way, if the government wants to, they can. They have the money and the ability to do it

NREH: How?

There are some things we’ve been working on that we want to pass to the Lagos State government. APICAN has been working hand-in-hand with them and we tell them there are a lot of things they are working on that won’t work if they don’t carry us along. We know the ability of our people and their reactions to things. There is a way the law that’s made for me has to appeal to me and not make me feel like I’m in a box. The relationship has to be cordial.

 If I don’t know the law you’re making for me, I might not be happy to comply or pay whatever charges you’re asking me. For example, after we met with Governor Fashola on the issue of tax at Civic Centre, it was easy for us to enlighten our own people on the importance of paying tax and many of them are eager and ready to pay. At least I pay my tax even though it’s not much. We are also planning on inviting a tax officer to come and sensitize them again on the issue.

I believe the government has the ability to provide accommodation, but the housing for all that they are crying about is a way of defrauding the nation because there is no government anywhere in the world that can provide housing for everybody; it is not possible! First of all, they are not taking the informal sector into consideration

NREH: When you say informal sector, what do you mean?

I mean the mechanics, market women etc. They want to give only people working with the government houses because they have access to their income and can deduct from their salaries so the idea of accommodation for all is for government workers. They will sell to their own people who will put it on the market at exorbitant prices that the mechanics and market women cannot afford. How is that house for all?

NREH: (Smiling) Okay but even if they can’t provide for everybody, they can at least make the effort to take care of a large amount of the populace?

How do they do that? How many people can they really cater for? What is the percentage of the people working for the government compared to the general populace?

NREH: It still doesn’t mean government shouldn’t try. At least Jakande did.

And he is the only one that really addressed the issue. Government can’t provide housing for all because their way of providing accommodation is for you to buy when you have money and how many people have that money at hand? Imagine the government uses 100 billion to build one million units of room and parlour spread round the city and they tell you to pay for three months upfront.

 If it is N2,000 per month, that will be N6,000 and you will be able to afford it. Let’s say to start up, you’ll pay for different things and the total cost eventually is N15, 000 but you had N100, 000 at hand you were willing to pay for your accommodation before. At the end of the day, it means you have N85, 000 extra for you. Since you’ve paid for January – March and you are asked to pay for April by February ending and for May by March ending, is that not convenient for you?

NREH: Of course it is

You have N85, 000 to do whatever you want, there is convenience, security and a sense of belonging to your nation. With these one million units, the government would have also created more job opportunities. It is however important that the units not be for only government officials but for everybody.

With proper allocation, such as putting someone who is a mechanic close to people who are bankers, influence of character will occur and by and large, the government is building a civilized society. In the long run, people have a sense of belonging to their country and a positive thinking towards life. If the government can do this, landlords will check themselves because people will no longer patronize them as they used to. Even the estate agent industry will be re-organized properly and can be truly regulated and their activities monitored.

If that is done, you will realize that the money people pay for security will no longer be necessary and armed robbery will be minimal because you will know those who live within your estate and they will know you. Therefore you will not think of duping anybody or doing any corrupt thing because your basic needs have been settled and you won’t be under any pressure.

NREH: True, but what role does APICAN play in all of these? What exactly does APICAN do?

What we do is to sanitize the real estate industry.

NREH: Make it clear, who are the people registered with you? Who are APICAN members?

Any real estate agent

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