By Kingsley Adegboye
Against the backdrop of the unhealthy competition from foreign players in the country’s estate agency practice, members of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, NIESV, have advocated strategic innovations as a way of remaining relevant in business and to boost the sub-sector of the economy.
This was the outcome of the one-day seminar on Prospects and Challenges of International Competition in the Business of Real Estate, organised by the Estate Agency and Marketing Business Division of NIESV in Lagos last week.
Leading the discussion, Mr. Bode Adediji, Chairman, Bode Adediji Partners, and past President, NIESV, noted that the sector is presently faced with so many challenges among which are the impact of recession, ignorance and complacency and lack of capital for investment and marginalisation as well as international competition among others.
And surviving in a situation like this according to him, would require practitioners to make clients have greater degree of trust in the services rendered to them, just as there must be expertise and confidence in the services rendered to customers.
The former NIESV boss who said it has become obvious that the most crucial and disruptive aspect of the international competition is particularly reflected in the premium and eyebrow segment of the real estate market, added: “Domestic practitioners must, as of necessity, understudy the composition and modus-operandi of international competition so that the required change in the conventional attitudes, practice and emphasis can be effected pragmatically and not merely symbolically as is prevalent now.
“Recapitalisation, innovation, technology among others, are sacrosanct, if the local firms hope to survive the audacity and the scourge of the foreign competitors in Nigeria.”
Mr. Gboyega Fatimilehin of Diya Fatimilehin & Co, a firm of estate surveyors and valuers, who spoke on The Need to Raise the Bar in Line with Best Practice, attributed the incursion of foreign players in the industry to the nation’s increase in Gross Domestic Product, technology disruptions and the observed investment opportunities in the country.
Advising NIESV to consolidate for growth by putting in place continuous training and workshops for members to build competence as well as confidence in their operations, Fatimilehin stated that for the Nigerian real estate industry to be competitive and attract investment, real estate practice must have higher standards, stressing that this will remove constraints in the market and allow local practitioners to compete with the global real estate firms that have entered Nigerian market.
NIESV’s President, Mr. Rowland Agbonta, in his remark, said the recent pronouncement by the court that lawyers have no business in property transaction has brought a new ray of hope to practitioners, stressing that it is high time that quacks in the profession were fished out and punished.
According to him: “Agency practice has become an important area of real estate business and so everything that needs to be done to protect that arm of the profession must be put in place.”
In his remark, the Chairman, Faculty of Estate Agency and Marketing, NIESV, Sam Eboigbe, said the seminar was to draw attention of estate agency practitioners nationwide to the professional embarrassments of surrendering the larger chunk of its cake to foreign competitors.
“The battle for the soul of estate agency has been largely local in nature and the faculty some years ago, championed the establishment and the approval of a body called Association of Estate Agency of Nigeria. This became necessary as a result of the poor public perception and image of estate agents, which has negatively impacted the profession and institution. The question now on the lips of concerned colleagues is, will there be another association that would be dedicated to foreign competition? he asked.
Earlier, while speaking, Mr. Joe Idudu, a former president of NIESV expressed worries that the industry has become an all-comers affair for those who ordinarily don’t have business in the sector because of its lucrativeness. He posited that the incursion of foreign players in Nigerian real estate has worsened the ability of local players to survive in the country.
In a lecture titled: A well structured partnership, a case study of a flourishing firm of estate surveyors and valuers, Idudu challenged members to be innovative in structuring their firms, imbibe the culture of honesty and sincerity of purpose in dealing with clients and colleagues in the profession.