How to become a successful real estate agent in Nigeria – Pt 1

Welcome to my FIRST blog post, and as the topic depicts, we are going to be sharing a few tips on how to assume an “A’ list status as a real estate agent in Nigeria. If you’re an agent or an aspiring agent this post is for you.

One credible way of getting extra income in Nigeria with almost Zero investment is Real Estate Agency. You may have been part of a real estate transaction without even knowing about it, have you referred a friend, family member, or work colleague to a vacant apartment in your neighborhood? Well if you have, then, congratulations! You’re a real estate agent, LOL! But, to become a real estate agent in a professional capacity, is way more than referring people to vacant properties.

In real estate, especially in Nigeria, trust is everything. Your appearance, the way you speak, your confidence must show the client (Client could mean the prospective buyer or seller) that you are someone that can be trusted. In some occasions, your personality will be a plus and sometimes a minus, the keyword in starting off as a real estate agent is ‘uniqueness’. You don’t need to be dressed in a suit and tie, neither is it a must to use an iphone 13 pro max. Just dress smart, be confident and ‘know your onions’!

So, enough with the long talk, Let’s get to business!

BE UNIQUE

This cannot be over-emphasized , you do not need to copy other persons, however, you could have a mentor. There’s no one rule about being unique, but one universal rule stands out, be you! However, being you isn’t just going to cut it, there are norms in communication and dressing in a professional environment, study these things because you’ll use this throughout your Real Estate profession.

BRANDING

A few things you have to put in place to set yourself apart in any business is your “Brand”. You can’t run a business without a brand, more importantly, scammers have done so well in deceit by copying other brands and they’re so believable. As a business owner in Nigeria, you’ve to show your prospective clients that you’re a credible from a mile out! Having properties under your portfolio or astute negotiating skills is zero without branding in Real Estate.

Business Name: There’s no rule book here, just pick a business name, it could be your name and last name or an acronym or anything. You may choose to add suffixes like “Properties, Realty, Realtor” etc . After picking a business name, head to the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria (CAC) website and get your business name registered. All required documents are listed on it, you can choose to register as a Business name or a Limited Liability Company.

Bank Account: It’s better to have a bank account in your ‘business name’ than your name. This shows the client that you’re not a one-time deal, you’re into real estate for the long haul.

Logo: Any good graphics designer can get you a logo. In my personal opinion, your logo should not be too distracting, The big firms have simple Logos, you don’t need to have a lion head on your logo or that of a Hawk! Just make it simple, the simpler it is, the easier it sticks.

Google & other Search Engines: We use search engines every day, when we want to find out the recipe for preparing ‘Banga soup’ or how to commute to a new area. You’ll agree with me that Google is the most popular amongst Bing, Yahoo, or AOL. Imagine, someone wants to find out on google, the real estate agents in a certain area, then oops!, you’re not listed. Your presence on search engine website is as important as every other part of your business, I can’t envisage this enough, we are in a digital age, there are no more chalk boards as pointers to agents in an area. Yeah, I know word of mouth is good but, you need new customers as much as you need to maintain old clients. To get your business on google is simple, download Google Business app. You don’t own a smartphone? Keep on reading, there’s a solution 😉.

Own a Website: Take a website like your address, where people can locate you on the internet. As your physical address is important so is your web address. Uno.com.ng is a perfect product for real estate agencies and agents, they create your website within a day with just ₦50,000. Trust me their websites are user-friendly and it’s built to meet industry standards. Visit the website as I heard there are tons of freebies.

Important Mobile Apps: Whatsapp, Instagram, Google Business, LinkedIn, Facebook Business & Twitter. These apps can be synced so that, a post on one updates the other apps. It’s important to know that, you must always update your apps frequently with posts, let visitors realize that there is consistency.

GET FAMILIAR WITH REAL ESTATE TERMS

There are a few terms you have to familiarise yourself with when dealing with other agents. These terms may sound strange to you, but in real estate, it means a lot. A few are;

The Client: Anyone interested in purchasing or selling a property.

The Mandate: The agent/ agency hired by the client.

Semi mandate: The agent working for the client’s agent.

Agency Fees: Agency fees are payments made to the agent or group of agents after a successful transaction, it ranges from 2% to 10%, and depends majorly on the selling price and how strong your negotiating skills are.

Link / Chain: How many agents are on a certain property. There’s a rule, not law, that mandates that all agents should share the agency fees equally, if you’re to go with this rule (which I do not follow all the time), you may have to figure out how many people you would share the fees with.

COVERAGE AREA & PROPERTY TYPE

Pick the locations that are easily accessible by you, possibly somewhere that the travel time is not more than 30 minutes, always arrive at the inspection venue before the client gets there, if you’re not managing the property, make sure you have taken a tour of the property before the client arrives. Study the property, ask questions, and take charge of the inspection. Don’t leave the talking to the agent-in-charge, part of your due diligence as an agent is to know as much as you need to about a property. Nigerians are smart people, they can decipher a rookie from a professional and this in turn, will affect your ability to negotiate an agency fee that conforms to what others receive.

There are various property types, majorly categorized as Commercial, Residential and Industrial. Decide which category best suits you, and understand their subcategories. As per property status, properties can either be for sale, for rent, for lease (long term), short-let, and Joint Venture. I would love to talk about all these, I will leave you to do your research.

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

COMMUNICATION

Communication isn’t just talking or listening, in Real Estate, you have to understand what the client wants and have an appropriate response that meets the want. You’re not a miracle worker, I know, but to the client, you should be a miracle worker, the kind that would pull a rabbit from the hat. The moment the client perceives you as a ‘Regular Joe’, you’re no longer the agent. Make sure you ask important questions, the client may assume you are a pro, this takes you back to research, real estate isn’t for the lazy, you must know how to study a property, understand the traffic situation to a property, how the generator house may affect the neighbours, how the position of the window will allow ventilation. Let me let you into a little secret 🤫, most clients don’t know what they want. Understanding property and location features gives you an edge when sourcing for a property for your client.

Again, confidence speaks more than words. The way you speak about a particular scenario says a lot to the prospective client, you may not know Jack!

OWN A SMARTPHONE

Smartphones have become part of our daily lives, for some persons, these tiny devices are more important than food, if I may say so myself! You need these devices to chat with your clients, you must always be reachable, 24 Hours. If you plan quitting your regular 9–5 for Real Estate and you think that you won’t be available on Sundays or 7pm on random weekdays or weekends, then you are not ready, clients would call you by 12 midnight to fix an inspection for 8am the next day or to make enquiries on available properties in Lagos Island while you reside at the mainland.

Clients love exclusivity, they want your undivided attention. Unfortunately, there’s no retainer fees in real estate (you might want to confirm the accuracy of this), so you have to give all you got in anticipation that it pays off.

Another major reason why you need a smartphone with good camera quality; Pictures and Videos. Well an iPhone 12 would give you amazing pictures and video quality but, you don’t need to break the bank for a phone, a decent ₦50k Android phone or iPhone can do the trick.

In summary, you have to be able to be in touch with your clients on the go, a smartphone helps you have a virtual office. This is very important! There’s no solution to not having a durable smartphone, my apologies 🙂.

PARTNER WITH THE RIGHT REAL ESTATE AGENTS OR AGENCIES

Choose the right agents you want to help advertise their properties or agencies you may choose to partner with. Make sure you ask important questions including what your agency fees would be and how it’s shared, do not wait until you get a client or when the deal is done before having this discussion. You will lose a lot more than just a large chunk of your commission if you don’t have an agreement with the agent or agency.

Don’t be overambitious ; Don’t be greedy

Avoid marked up agency fees, this places you at an unfair disadvantage, as the same property would be advertised by other agents/ agencies at a lower price.

ARRIVE INSPECTION VENUE BEFORE TIME

Have you heard about african time? Please I take God beg you, don’t kill your career by yourself. Remember when I started, I said, “…In real estate especially in Nigeria, trust is everything”. One quick way to show you’re not a trustworthy agent is to not keep to time. There may be some clients that won’t show up, or arrive late, you may have to live with it but, do not let this change you, you must keep to time. Consider travel time when fixing an appointment and if a client proposes a time you may not be able to meet up with, let it be known ahead of time or better still, reschedule the meeting.

AGENCY FEE

No matter how ‘sapa’ broke you are, never ask for transport fare or inspection fees. If you do, you lose credibility and worth. I know some persons will argue that I’m wrong about this, but I have tried both and I can tell you, most clients will take you as a hungry fellow and negotiating with the client for your commission will be an ‘Uphill task’ remember, this write-up is how to be a successful agent in Nigeria not New York or Sydney!

Nigerians would size you up and quickly figure out that you’re broke. You want to be able to show the potential client that you’re willing to walk out of a deal if your preferred agency fee isn’t agreed upon.

Agency Fees; there’s a misconception that agency fees is 10%, if the property is equal to or less than ₦1m and 5% if more than ₦1m. I can tell you that there’s no such law, Nigeria runs an economic system that no one person fixes the price except for a few parastatals, however, a deal is concluded when both parties agree on a fee/ price that they both accept, it’s sort of like a capitalist system. So you could fix your agency fees as a percentage or an amount, however, it’s most unlikely to get out an agency fees of more than 10% of the value of the property.

FREE TAKE OUT

You may have noticed that I didn’t lay any emphasis on having a physical office, the reason is simple, you don’t need an office as an agent, if however, you’re looking to start off as an agency of about 3 staffs, then maybe having an office may be considered. We have moved into a digital plane, most things that required printing or scanning have gone digital. If government agencies have gone completely digital, what are you waiting for?

Secondly, please, please, and please do not advertise anything other than real estate on any of your platforms most especially your WhatsApp status. It’s not bad to have multiple hustles, the problem is convincing your would-be clients, that real estate is your passion. Rather, get another phone number for other ‘Businesses’.

Thirdly, Phone etiquette. What separates you from a tout or mediocre on a phone call, is the way you speak and where you receive your calls. You run a business from the comfort of your bedroom, your clients shouldn’t have a whiff of this, in their minds, you’re in a cozy office setting. Never raise your voice at your clients but that is not to say to use ‘bedroom’ voice, do more listening than talking even though you’re certain you’re right. Be audible!

Lastly, be careful and certain of the persons you decide to do business with, one of the most common businesses to get you on the other side of the law is Real Estate, Yes, Real Estate, there are a lot of fraudsters walking around looking for a conduit/mule to do their bidding without consent, so be careful, make sure you have vetted your sources and your sources have reputation. Most rumors are true, pay attention to rumors, don’t let your stomach do the thinking, leave that to your head.

Real estate is profitable for Investors, Owners, and Brokers. It can make you a millionaire overnight! You just have to know how to get it right.

I hope you find this helpful, as I leave you with best wishes in your endeavor .

If you’re looking for luxury real estate deals in Lagos Nigeria or just have a property for sale you can reach me on our website

Feel free to comment or leave your reviews and be gentle, this is my first blog post.

Thank you for reading.

Ash Properties Ltd.

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Luxury Real Estate Broker & Lead Agent at Ash Properties Ltd with 8 Years Experience in Real estate. Also a Techpreneur since 2010

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Charles Chijioke-Asher

Charles Chijioke-Asher

Luxury Real Estate Broker & Lead Agent at Ash Properties Ltd with 8 Years Experience in Real estate. Also a Techpreneur since 2010

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