Real estate: how touts pretend to be real estate agents in FCT
The activities of touts posing as real estate agents in the sale or occupation of real estate in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are on the rise. ELEOJO IDACHABA in this piece takes a look at the ugly trend.
If the Senate does nothing about the activities of the so-called estate agents who have recently assumed the position of lords with regard to the acquisition of property and rents, the efforts of the upper house to regulate rents in Abuja and in other major cities in the country may not be reached after all.
Many Nigerians who reside in major cities like Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Ibadan and Enugu have experienced one or two unpleasant ordeals or endured untold hardships at the hands of these agents whose activities had largely contributed to the rise the cost of acquiring a property or renting an apartment in the countryside.
This journalist understood that they are now operating as a cartel over which they are the lords and their words are final. It is therefore now a norm that one cannot acquire a property directly from the owner until the processes go through an agent whose burden of 10% commission must be borne by the potential buyer. Under no circumstances can any property be acquired without their involvement.
While recounting his experience with this journalist in Abuja, a resident of a community called Obasanjo Road located along Bwari Road, Musa Inuwa said that an officer who goes by the name Gabriel made his life unbearable when he wanted to move into the community from Dakwa. in the state of Niger.
Inuwa, who works with the FCT Water Board, said: “I saw a two-bedroom apartment under construction that I liked on Obasanjo Road when a colleague introduced me to the place. When I inquired, someone directed me to the owner whose house was nearby. Fortunately, he was standing nearby with people that day. When I approached and told him I wanted the place, we agreed on the price and he promised to finish the place for me to move in if I paid, but he didn’t. Never said anything about getting an agent involved and I was happy because I felt I had overcome the usual wahala agency fees.
A few days later, I paid the money into the man’s account. I didn’t know there was an agent who took it upon himself to bring a tenant into the house because of his own commission. When Gabriel was informed that someone had paid, unbeknownst to me, he ambushed to see the person.
“The same person who informed me of the owner also informed him that I was around. It was the first time I had seen him. When he came he reminded me that I knew that I had to pay the 10% agency fee In surprise I asked who he was and he introduced himself as the agent in charge of the property.
“But you didn’t bring me here; I brought myself here and was introduced to the owner who I negotiated and paid with,” I said. “But you have to pay the 10%; it’s like that. This property has been in my custody and the owner knows it.
“I phoned the owner, but I couldn’t reach him. So I left. When I spoke to him later that evening, he told me he was in his hometown of Offa with a promise to call me back. Until now Ramadan has started the man is still not back and I can’t get in the house because I haven’t got the keys yet and the young man insists that I pay him N45 000 which is 10% of N450,000 otherwise I can’t enter.
Conservator/agent Mama Childera told Blueprint Weekend that whenever a property is under development, owners of those properties often ask agents to start soliciting buyers or tenants, which is why agents don’t are not willing to neglect their commission.
“It is already a matter of business. Agents make phone calls, take clients to view the property anywhere, liaise with landlords to ensure the property is rented. That’s why agency fees have to be paid,” she said.
The opinion of a real estate developer
However, according to a real estate developer, Moses Nnaji, all people posing as agents are touts whose activities are completely illegal as they are not qualified to be so called and to that extent must be controlled.
“These are people who are ready to reap where they have not sown. How can you explain a situation where a property the owner puts up for sale for two million, an agent would add his 200,000 because he claimed to have helped find a buyer. It is criminal and should be treated as such.
He added, “Look at these new estates in Gwarimpa and Life Camp, for example, for a four bedroom bungalow, it is estimated at 60 million naira, but due to the activities of these touts, many of them go up to at 80 naira. million and more.
In a conversation with this reporter, a real estate developer, Deborah Attah, said the activities of agents often affect what registered real estate developers do.
“We are registered property developers affiliated with Diya Fatimilehin and Co; therefore have all the prerequisites to do real estate business, but often when we visit our sites, we see these encroachments. Once they attacked our traders in Jahi when our traders asked them to produce their proof of registration.
“That’s the situation in real estate right now, but it’s even worse with individual tenants looking to become owners. I know there are touts everywhere, from buying airline tickets to international passports and driver’s licenses. The latter do not operate with impunity like self-proclaimed estate agents who believe arresting them is tantamount to asking them to return to their villages,” Deborah said.
There have been several attempts in the past to control arbitrary rent hikes, but to no avail until Senator Smart Adeyemi, who currently represents Kogi-west in the upper house, proposed a bill to outlaw advance payment of rent in the Federal Capital Territory. .
Senator Adeyemi, in his main debate on the general principles of the bill, said that it aims to regulate the mode of payment of rent for residential apartments, offices, rooms and accommodation in the FCT.
According to him, the decision of the upper house stems from the obligation of its constitutional responsibilities in order to have an impact on the lives of the inhabitants.
“If passed, this bill would improve the welfare and standard of living of residents and minimize the corruption and immorality emanating from the oppressive tenancy system in the Federal Capital Territory. This bill would also make life less stressful and painful for the majority of oppressed and low-income people in the federal territory,” he said.
“Deal with Registered Practitioners”
According to Daniel Shodamola, another property developer, agency fees for rental contracts are usually 10% of rental rates.
“For example, if the property costs N500,000 per year, the agency fee would be 10% of N500,000, which is equivalent to N50,000 for one year and if the agent collects two years rent, this would be N50,000 x 2 years, or N100,000.”
He said: ‘For property sales it is usually 5% of the total price paid (negotiable in some cases if you have a qualified solicitor who can give reasons why it should be less than 5%). In addition, all agency fees are generally the responsibility of the buyer or tenant and not the owner or seller.
To this extent, he said buyers and tenants are advised to always ensure that they are dealing with estate agents registered with the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) and the Association of Estate Agents in Nigeria (AEAN) which is a body intended to regulate the activities of Estate Agents who are not members of the NIESV.
“The AEAN was created to quell the faults in the practice of real estate agencies in Nigeria, now populated by charlatans.”