There have been several cases of fraudulent practices in the real estate sector, especially in the aspect that involves securing accommodation or finding a place to rent. This has focused the searchlight on real estate agents. In fact the honest ones or professionals amongst them are not taken seriously by some members of the public who have experienced their fair share of deceit and swindling by men who are paid to offer useful assistance to them while hunting for a place to call home.
Unscrupulous estate agents collect huge sums of money from unsuspecting Nigerians with a promise to secure them accommodation. The worst case scenario comes to play when a supposed agent collects huge amount of money from different people for the same accommodation.
That almost happened to me during my early days as a bachelor in a densely populated part of Lagos called Alapere, Ketu, when a middle aged man and his supposed spouse in the company of an agent were going to offer me a mini flat at the rate of 300,000 naira per annum
The deal was almost done until I met an old friend of mine on my way to the bank. He was shocked to see me in his area and asked what brought me to his domain. I explained to him that I was house hunting and I was almost done with securing an accommodation for myself around his place but for the payment which will be made before the end of the day.
He told me to be careful, that there were many fake agents around there. He even asked me to take him to the place which I did. If for nothing. I wanted at least some else who would rate the apartment , then proceed to telling me that I made the right choice.
Alas! Immediately he saw the building and the apartment I wanted to rent, I knew there was something wrong just looking at the smirk on his face.
“Ben, don’t fall for this! These people are fraudsters, the apartment you are about paying for was paid for yesterday.” An agent that has been helping me get a 3 bedroom flat brought me here yesterday, and in my presence someone paid for the same flat you want to pay for.
From that moment, I needed no soothsayer to tell me to walk away from not just that transaction but any other that in that area.
Now, some people have not been so lucky. Often times the deal would have been sealed before you suspect foul play and by that time there would be no going back. It is therefore expedient that we do our due diligence before we secure accommodation especially in a place like Lagos, where we have all manner of people and an alarming population.
There have also been more disturbing cases of dubious estate agents collecting money from prospective tenants and not remitting money to the real owners of the houses. The crimes perpetrated by these fraudsters that call themselves estate agents have gotten so bad to the extent that Nigerians seeking for accommodation have lost faith in the practice of this noble profession.
That notwithstanding, suffice it to say that there are very good and honest estate agents who practice according to the dictates of their profession. Hence, there is an urgent need for the government to sanitize this sector of human avocation.
They say a rotten apple spoils the barrel. It is indeed painful when some bad persons tarnish the image of the good ones who are willing to offer their services with an integrity that is unquestionable
In this vein, LASRETRAD was established by the administration of former Lagos state Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola in 2012, to regulate and monitor the activities of estate agents in the state.
Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Department is the main regulatory authority in Lagos State on Real Estate Transactions. And one of the major reasons for establishing the department is to restore confidence in the activities and practice of estate agents in the state.
Before LASRETRAD came into existence, Lagosians had lost faith in the government to provide them adequate protection in their transactions with real estate agents.
It is therefore assumed that with the establishment of LASRETRAD, there ordinarily should be an entrenchment of the principle of fair play, orderly conduct and accountability. This should bring a stop to the fraudulent activities of scam artists who parade themselves as estate agents.
Summarily, the purpose of LASRETRAD can be narrowed down to five (5) specifics. These are; maintaining market confidence, ensuring the protection and enhancement of the stability of Lagos State Real Estate Market, securing certain level of protection for property seekers, to make property transaction process extremely transparent and total eradication of quackery in Real Estate industry of the state with an attempt to eliminate any type of property frauds.
If LASRETRAD works effectively according to its ideals in conjunction with other regulatory bodies, then the hopes of Lagosians to gain accessiblity to affordable housing will no longer be a mirage.
However, the question now is; has the establishment of LASRETRAD by the Lagos state government brought any sanity to this sector of our lives? Do Lagosians now deal with estate agents with a free mind and that confidence that they will not be short-changed?
What are your views?