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How I lost money in my early days of real estate investing- Mrs Adefunke Adeyemi

Mrs Adefunke Adeyemi is the Regional Director for Member and External Relations of the International Air Transportation Association (IATA).  She was recently identified as one of the 200 Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) globally in recognition of her achievements.

Adefunke advocates for the overall sustainability and growth of the industry as a whole, and is the intermediary between airlines, the wider aviation community and the general public. She is responsible for conceptualising and delivering an on-going campaign regarding the transformation of Africa’s socio-economic prospects through enhanced connectivity across the continent. She also heads the Women in Leadership initiative of IATA in Africa and the Middle East.

She shared how she almost gave up on real estate investment at the Blueprint conference 2018 which took place at Fourpoints by Sheraton. This article is an eye-opener to the things you should never overlook when going into real estate.

Check out her interview below;


NREH: Good day Madam

Mrs Adefunke: Good day

So where you are at the moment, Is it what you’ve always wanted to do?

Mrs Adefunke: No, my first love is law. I have always wanted to be a lawyer. It was something I wanted right from the scratch. I loved the idea of travel because I have a father who travels a lot and I kept wondering where he went to but I get fascinated with the gifts that come with the travels.

While working as a lawyer, I would save a lot just to travel during the court recess. So basically, the two loves of my life are travel and law.

How did you find yourself in the real estate circle?

Mrs Adefunke: I have always been a dreamer. I dream of a lot of things and one of those things is really nice houses but my real estate investment story started with failures. This is how my real estate failures translated into freedom.

After all my dreams, I ruled Lagos out of the states I want to invest in because it is a very treacherous place. I had heard a lot of stories of people selling one plot of land to 10 different persons. So it was never in my conscious mind that I would go into real estate in Lagos.

When I started working in Virgin Atlantic, I joined the cooperative as part of the employee package. While working, a lot of big companies were coming with interest in real estate. Then this particular company came and said they wanted to build an estate. The company I am talking about is Chevron today, but then the site was really bad. There was no long express way, everywhere was swamp. I left their proposal on my table for months.

In the process of all this, a friend of mine informed me that there is land for sale somewhere. It is an Omo-Onile land. We met the family members and did all the transactions. My friend who called me is a Lawyer, not forgeting the fact that I am also a lawyer, but we were duped.

The day I took my parents to see the land, we got there and the land had been sand filled but somewhere in my optimistic mind I felt someone sand filled the land for me.

Then we started going from one family house to the other but we were not able to retrieve it.

I borrowed money to buy that land. I had N200,000 and borrowed N200,000 from friends but I lost everything because we didn’t do the right things. I didn’t consult a developer or valuer.  Even though we were professionals in our own field, we should have informed the right set of people.

That was my first experience. The family made a lot of empty promises but that didn’t stop me because there was an appetite in me to own real estate.

After a few months, I gave it a try again. Even though in my sub-consciousness, I had warning signals but I did give it a try.

A friend introduced another land to me and we went to look at it. It was a proper swamp land after Chevron round about. I went ahead and paid the deposit. I had saved some money so I paid with that.

After some months, I started calling the guys, asking how far about the land. Luckily for me, one girl who works for them called me and said “you might want to take your money back” and I asked why?. She said the guys already ran into some financial problems and she is not sure they can finish the building. They had already started building but the construction was partly done.

Luckily for me, I was able to get some money back but still lost some more. This was strike two

Strike three came four years later. I call it ‘third time lucky’. By that time, I had closed my mind concerning real estate, investment and Lagos.  I was having a conversation with a friend who works in the bank. She told me about a land but I needed a lot of money to finance it. One of the things my father told me was, “don’t borrow money and if you must borrow, don’t borrow from a bank because they will always chase after you and you will never be free”. So I made up my mind that financing option from a bank was out of it. So I had a conversation with another friend that introduced me to mortgage. I had thought mortgage was non-functional in Nigeria. I wouldn’t have followed it up on my own but she sent someone to me.

Instead of asking me to invest, they gave me a property too. They looked for properties within their perimeters; they had done all due diligence, title and the other essentials. We started the process; I looked at several ones that were available. There was a slightly developed estate; someone had already done the work. It was a well-built estate, I picked that. It was a four bedroom house and the value was 31.5million naira, I was asked to pay the deposit of 20%.

I told them there was no way I could come up with the money. One of them then asked me if I had other source of income. That was when I remembered the cooperative I did while I was working with Virgin Atlantic. I had completely forgotten about it and even left Virgin Atlantic four years before that time. So the money plus interest and investment had all amounted to 4.1million naira out of 6million. I added the monies I had, spoke to my broker and I came up with the deposit.

That was my breakthrough. It became an investment property for me because i didn’t live in it, I rented it out.

That property became a source of income for me even when I had a family crisis. I was able to raise money from it. After two strikes, I finally had my breakthrough from it.


  1. Thank you for being far more eloquent than I.

    • I went thru a similar experience at Owutu, Ikorodu. I bought the land, at least I had thought I did from the Omo Onile. My brother later took a team there to begin the foundation. Lo and behold, one day a gang of about a dozen men with police pounced on .my brother and those laying the foundation. Everyone went helter-skelter. My brother and about 5 workers were locked up at Ketu Police Station. My lawyer and I located them late evening. The DPO told me that academics like me should not dabbled in land matters.

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