By Kingsley Adegboye
Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Regulatory Authority, a new body charged with the responsibility to regulate the practice of estate agency in the state, has registered the Lagos State branch of Estate Rent Commission Agents of Nigeria, ERCAN to regulate the activities of estate agents operating in state.
Mr. Ikwuagwu Emeka George who is the vice chairman of Lagos State branch of ERCAN, disclosed this in an interview with Vanguard Homes & Property.
Pointing out that the newly established state authority will henceforth monitor and regulate the activities of estate agents in the state under ERCAN. ERCAN is also duly registered and recognised by the Federal government, Emeka who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Holmes Viu Properties Ltd said the registration and recognition of his association by the state government lends credence to the fact that the umbrella body of estate agents across the country is a legal body.
According to him, ERCAN is to estate agents what the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, NIESV is to estate surveyors and valuers. He added that every practicing estate agent in Nigeria is expected to be a member of the association which was formed to stem the dubious activities of estate agents.
Emeka said the Lagos State one year rent policy is achievable. He noted that the policy is already achieving its goal, because landlords now know that they cannot collect more than one year rent in Lagos.
“We as estate agents take our time to educate the landlords on the new policy. Those of them that insisted on two years’ rent collection initially have come to realise that it pays more to collect one year rent than to allow their houses to be locked up without tenants for months or years. So, they have no option than to succumb to the policy of the government. The policy will gradually be popularised. It is just a question of time.
“However, there is much work to be done by the government in terms of housing provision. The government needs to concentrate its attention on provision of mass housing for its citizenry, as this will force the Lagos Shylock landlords to comply with the one year rent policy. If most low income earners in the state are accommodated by the government, Lagos landlords will have no option than to beg people to become tenants in their houses, because if they don’t, their houses will be locked up .The government can help landlords by reducing charges on soil test and land use so that the cost of building will not be too high for them.
“Once these charges are reduced, the landlords may even be willing to collect six months from tenants. As an association, we advise landlords to collect one year rent as stipulated by the government. But those stubborn ones who insist on collecting two years’ rent, tell them they are on their own. For us, one year rent collection makes the job easier for the business. Some people because they are desperate to get accommodation, they don’t bother if the landlord is asking for two year’s rent. Such people are the ones encouraging landlords to collect two year’s rent,” Emeka stated.
Disagreeing with estate surveyors and valuers that estate agents are quacks, he said: “The fact that you do not belong to an association or professional body does not make you a quack in your area of business. However, you are a quack if you carry out a function you are not trained to practice. Those who were not able to go through the Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria, ESVARBON are regarded by those who went through the registration body as quacks. You are a quack as an estate agent because you are not empowered by law and education to carry out valuation business, but you are not a quack to do renting, sales and management.
“You can do those things as an estate agent because you have the basic qualification of secondary education coupled with marketing skills to carry out the business of estate agency. As I said earlier, an estate agent is a quack because he was not trained in the area of valuation, but he is not a quack to practice estate management, and of course, no estate agent is involved in property valuation because that is a specialised area in estate management as a course”..
Emeka likened the situation to a pharmacist and a chemist. “Because a pharmacist went to the university to read Pharmacy and because a Chemist is not certified, the pharmacist will refer to him as a quack. The fact that he did not read Pharmacy as a course does not mean that he is a quack. He may have other requisite qualifications to practice as a chemist,” he said.
“Estate agency is the area of the business that is porous to everybody who can read and write, that is why it appear to be all comers’ affairs. The ability to communicate makes you a marketer, and because he has acquired that basic communication skill empowers him as an estate agent. Estate agency is purely about marketing. Now, there is difference between a graduate, a non-graduate and a professional estate surveyor and valuer.
“Your ability to see far in the business is what distinguishes between you and others in the business. A non-graduate estate agent can empower himself by undertaking some estate management courses to brighten his future in the business. So, it is only those who want to remain as quacks that are quacks”, the Holmes Viu Properties boss said.