In one of our previous posts, we wrote on How to Start Real Estate Business in Nigeria. The desire to acquire decent and affordable housing has lured a lot of Nigerians into temptations that at times cost them their life’s fortunes. Nigerians are therefore prone to the activities of these fake estate developers who do not stop at anything to swindle their victims.
However, most people are swindled because they fail to look before they leap. Those who look are bound to find some facts that could confirm the authenticity of the estate developers who would give you accommodation. Some of the ways of identifying genuine estate developers in Nigeria as enumerated by some analysts include:
Document verification and authentication
The moment you resolve to buy a property, the first thing is to hire a reliable lawyer to oversee the property documentation and verification. The lawyer would do the verification to ascertain the legitimacy and authenticity of the real estate agency. There are a lot of required documents to be ascertained and verified prior to payment. Hiring a lawyer could be an added cost but at the end it serves the purpose.
You can as well handle the property verification by visiting the Abuja Geographical Information Systems (AGIS) or Alausa Land Registry Lagos or the various state land registry department to verify the property location. You can discuss with the agent on a special service for property verification. Of course, a genuine real estate agent would never associate himself with properties and transactions tainted with fraud or dispute, therefore he must have verified the property/transaction himself. To be more satisfied and secured, you must not rely on the agent’s property verification; you must do the verification yourself, your lawyer or chartered secretary.
A real estate agent that is authentic must be able to provide the buyer with buyer/seller agreement before the transaction. This is an official agreement between the agent and the buyer/seller. He must tell the commission and other necessary information about the transaction must be outlined and agreed together by the parties involved prior to payment and concluding any transaction. The agreement must include the agent’s official brand name, logo and other vital information as well as the buyer/seller.
The payment (net sales) could be made into the agent’s or property owner’s bank account as agreed on the buyer/seller deed. Of course, the agent’s account holder’s name must be his company/brand name. Please, insist that at least the commission be paid into the agent’s official company account. Fake agents hardly operate with company account. You can never lose your money while dealing with genuine real estate agents and refund is guaranteed should anything go wrong in the transaction.
Company registration and official website
Aside having a company name, every genuine and qualified estate agent must be registered with the Nigeria CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) with a brand name. There must be a registered company/brand name with a verified company registration Number. Do not deal with individuals by preference.
All genuine real estate firms are happy to publish and provide you with their registration numbers at any given time. The registration number is always found at the company’s profile (About Us) on their official websites. Of course, you can request for the company’s registration number. Every genuine and qualified company must provide you with its official registration number upon request. You can verify the company’s Reg. Number by visiting the CAC office in Abuja. You can also hire a trusted lawyer or chartered secretary to do the verification. All these must be done prior to payment.
A genuine real estate agent must be registered and recognised by at least one of the Nigeria estate boards – Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON), among others. Most genuine real estate agents are often interested in advertising and publishing their brand names and websites.
All related communications must be conveyed through the company’s registered communication points. Ensure that your email communication is being conveyed through the company/brand name. For instance, email@example.com. Do not communicate/send and receive emails from any agent using a free email account such as yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc. Insist on using his/her company’s email account. It could be, firstname.lastname@example.org when his name is Okeke Okafor and not email@example.com, when his name is Okeke Okafor.
The email address must quote exactly the company/brand name and website. Every genuine and qualified real estate firm must operate with an active official phone number (land line/table phone). You can verify this from their official website. Please be wary of real estate agents operating with only mobile phones. There must be an office contact phone (land line/table phone) and not a mobile phone. You must try to differentiate between the two. Most fake agents operate with only mobile phones, which easily enhances their illicit act. Although there could be personal/private contact numbers between the workers but ensure you initiate first phone communication through the company’s office phone (land line/table phone set).
Most fake agents do not have a standard and conducive office. Ensure that you engage most of your related communications in the company’s office. Avoid meeting with an agent in a restaurant and fun places. Request for showing of the property afterwards. All related communications and transactions must be done in the supposed agent’s office. Ensure that you are at the right office and not in a connived environment. Ensure that the office address you visited is the same as the address listed on their official website.
A genuine and qualified real estate agent does not incorporate or attach his career to a different profession. For example, some offices placed on the website or advertised in a magazine might finally turn out to be another thing altogether. A genuine and qualified real estate agent stands out firmly and cannot operate under any other office. Although some lawyers do engage themselves in estate management, the genuine real estate agent can deliver a satisfactory service and information about estate management.
The lawyer has some specific services to render in estate transactions.