Thursday, May 23, 2013


The rate of property development along the Lekki Expressway corridor is so rapid that the traffic on the only access road to this axis is gridlocked every morning and evening during rush hour traffic. The congestion is worsened by the lingering road repairs and weight of traffic. If you are unfortunate enough to leave home for the Island or Mainland after 7am, you may spend hours reaching your destination. On some of the estates on this axis you have nature and human beings co-existing side by side in some sort of imposed harmony. It is not uncommon to find crabs and snakes in people’s gardens, on the roads and even inside the houses. I had to take a client to a property on one of the new developments in Ajah, and while waiting outside the estate gates, I had a look around and could have been in a remote village in Kafanchan or Oshun state. There were goats and chickens running around, naked children blissfully happy in their God given skins, untarred dirt roads and bush as far as the eye could see, road side eateries cooking on firewood, and shops set up in every available space. Yet when you drive through the estate gates, you are transported into another world with evenly laid out plots and houses with landscaped gardens. It is sometimes disconcerting to go from one environment to the other in one second. But the beauty of this type of living is that both communities feed off one another. Local shops are set up in the local communities which cater to the needs of estate community. The local community Oba also ensures some type of security and protection for these new estates.
It appears the oversupply of new properties in Lekki 1 is causing a glut. There is so much choice that it is quite confusing for clients as they more than likely have five or six other agents running around for free, searching for properties for them. It is so common now for agents to ask if the other agent is the principal agent working directly for the landlord. If you are not, some agents drop you like a stone as they can see their fees reducing drastically.

While driving along the Lekki Express way this week, there was an accident around one of the strangely large roundabouts, which caused a tail back for about two hours. These roundabouts are accident hotspots and cause a lot off accidents due to cars bunching up together to circumnavigate the roundabouts.  Although traffic has eased enormously between the first roundabout at Lekki 1 and the third roundabout at Jakande due to the widening of the road, the traffic from Chevron roundabout to VGC/Ajah is still a nightmare
I had to go and look at a large plot of land for a friend in the UK, who had purchased the land on the basis that it had been recommended by a good friend! The plots of land were purchased with the intention of selling them on at a much higher amount in a year or so when prices should have gone up.  Unfortunately it is proving difficult to get the paperwork. One can still get fairly affordable plots of land nearer the Free Trade Zone and the closer to Epe that you go. Land there can still be purchased for under 1million a plot, but be sure that you get all the paperwork for the land before exchanging any money.


It unfortunately appears that many clients only see Estate Agents as disposable items that should be used and dispensed of when they have served their purpose. Estate Agents are appointed to find, manage, sell and rent properties for clients, often having to show clients many properties before they agree to take one, or in some instances do not even bother to tell the agent that they have taken another property with another agent.

I have a client who contacted me in February this year, to view a property on my books with her “oga’s at the top”. She rang me in the morning and wanted to view the property by midday. She was insistent her oga’s had to travel out of the country that evening and had to see the property before they traveled. She rang me at least five times in the space of an hour to confirm that the appointment would go ahead. I on my part dropped everything I was doing to contact the landlord, arrange pick up of the keys and hot foot it to the property by midday. I got there on time, had a quick check to make sure viewing would be smooth and waited. The potential clients turned up, but without the lady who had made the arrangements. The two expatriate gentlemen proceeded to examine the building with a fine tooth comb. After an hour they left promising that the lady who had contacted me earlier would contact me with an answer in a few days.

After a week of no news, I rang the lady, who said she cannot guarantee anything and will get back to me when she has news. I did not hear from her for a month, then out of the blue I get a call from her saying someone else wanted to see the property within an hour. Luckily the property was still on the market. She rang every five minutes to check if I had arranged the viewing, I had to tell her to give me the phone number of the person who wanted to see it so I could arrange with him directly. The viewing was arranged and I never heard anything again. A few weeks later, she contacted me again to say that she wanted another inspection from the worldwide oga who was in Nigeria for a short stay and wanted to see the property that day! I told her I was not too happy with the way she rang up to arrange inspections immediately then did not get back to me afterwards. She was quite defensive, but said she would get back in a few days with his final decision. I asked her to send in a letter of her interest for the landlord who wanted to know who this client was. She sent the letter and the appointment was made. She rang the next day to say he liked it and they wanted to measure for fittings that day, this was duly arranged. That was three weeks ago!  To date, she has not contacted me, picked her calls nor returned my emails!

This happens regularly and makes you wonder why clients feel that they can behave this way with Estate Agents. Even though I am an advocate of Estate Agents improving the way they work, so also should clients respect Agents sufficiently enough to let them know when they will not be using their services again. It is a symbiotic two way relation that must be based on trust and respect.


I have covered this topic before, but think it is time it got another airing, with a few additions. With the property market continuing to be tough, and with buyers in short supply, one thing agents should do in conjunction with landlords, is ensure that every single one of their properties is not only priced right, but is presented to the highest standard. Well that’s what you’d think would happen already, but some agents it seems are still letting the side down!

Estate agents have a bad enough name as it is and no wonder when you look at how some agents present their properties. Bad spelling, bad grammar and terrible unclear photos, it still astonishes me when I look at some of the basic mistakes that estate agents make. Presentation is one of the key elements of selling any property whether it is a smelly 2 bed flat or a luxury 4 bed detached house. An English man’s or should I say Nigerian man’s home is their castle, and owners want to see their property shown in its best light. So why do agents still make their jobs even more difficult than they have to by not getting it right in the first place? Spelling and grammar are extremely important to get right. Selling a property as a “ detatched, acommodation” without checking the spelling is embarrassing. When I see so many basic spelling mistakes in adverts, I wonder why? It takes 5 minutes to spell check and proof read property particulars to get the address and details right before they are sent off for advertisement. What confidence is the seller going to have in their agent if they have to circle all the typo errors on the property details?  Also how are they going to feel when they look at the photos on the internet, and think they could have done it better themselves

Nigeria is still behind the world in advertising online. The internet is now the estate agents shop window, it’s where abroad. 99% of buyers see a property for the first time. With this in mind, and with agents wanting their properties to stand out from the competition, time has to be taken to ensure that all the photos are helping to create more interest in the property. Dustbins, unmade beds, cluttered surfaces and dirty toilets/bathrooms should not be included in photos. It takes two minutes to move those unsightly dustbins from the front of the house to get the best shot, and why not help the seller clear those kitchen tops before you click away. I have never had a seller complain that I want to move a few things before I take the shot, and when they see the finished article they will thank you for taking the time to get it right. Property details should be accurate and not misleading, and there should be more regulation in our industry, to stop the inexperienced cowboys tarnishing Estate agents reputation further and instead help build a reputation as Agents that know what they are doing

Maybe the business of buying, selling and letting property will eventually go fully online, and maybe in 5 years time ALL Estate agents will have on line web sites, one thing is certain is that clients in particular still like to know that you have an office that is prominent and visible, somewhere they can come and talk to you about their properties or their needs. Even though it’s accepted that the potential buyers and tenants all search online, sellers in particular still want to know that the agent has an office presence, and more importantly that their property will be advertised professionally and will reach a wide audience


During the week I have a series of meetings with a client who lives abroad, but has been developing heavily in Lagos with a partner who is based here. They are concerned about the downward turn in the property market and want to reassess their options for selling at quite a high asking price. I advice that they should consider lowering prices to attract a wider market and be prepared to wait a little longer for the property to be let or sold. Of course with the proliferation of Estate Agents who are desperate for a sale or lease and in a market where fewer properties are becoming available, it will determine who the most tenacious are. On the positive side It will hopefully leave only the really serious property experts to take charge of the market.

I had to carry out some land viewings in Epe over the weekend. Development is moving much further away towards Epe, and looks promising with the proposed opening of the Lekki Expressway corridor. New estates are springing up everywhere. The traffic congestion on the Lekki Expressway road especially from Chevron to Sangotedo and back in the opposite direction is horrific to witness in the mornings and evening. LCC must do something about this misery to road users. Toll gate charges are collected from users who are not receiving any real benefits from using the road. Meetings have to be planned and set out for hours in advance. The works to the roads were projected to have been completed ages ago, but no updated information is being given. The roundabouts cause chaos, accidents and gridlock daily. I am not sure how this already overstretched road will cope with the future projection of millions more residents who will move into the new estates springing up.

I am invited to Ogun state to view another development coming up, which is aiming to target the high end market. I feel this may be better targeted at the medium income investors and workers who will want somewhere decent to stay and who work in the locality. The chances of this group of investors buying and renting there, is much higher than the target group the investors are looking at who are high income earners, and will not want to spend the kind on money being asked for, to live in that area.  I will give it a shot at marketing in Lagos, but have advised the developers what to expect. I leave Abeokuta at 5pm, and am still in Otta at 7pm. I got to Lagos at 10pm!

I really need to get myself a driver instead of borrowing friend’s drivers, but am still wary about their trustworthiness.  With the increase in kidnapping incidents we must be extra wary. I am therefore more comfortable driving myself most times even though it is getting more and more stressful.

I have lunch with a good client who is refurbishing a block of flats in Ikoyi and wants to know what the market rate is for flats in the area. He of course pays for lunch. The best way to get an idea of this is to check the already going rate for similar properties in the area. This can be difficult atimes as some landlords ask for ridiculously high amounts based on what they feel they have put into the property. I ring around for contractor’s quotes for the management of the facilities. I get quotes with such wide variances, the most expensive at N3mill more than the lowest quote even though they are quoting for exactly the same things.  It is a hard to know what to think!