By Moses Nosike
BOLAJI Oshobukola, CEO, Odibola Global Services Limited, a property development company that started business in Rivers state in 2015 and later expanded to Lagos and UK.
In this interview, Oshobukola reveals the need for government and developers to meet for proper policy design and implementation that would guarantee low cost housing for the Nigerian masses. Excerpts:
Can you tell us some of the services you offer?
Odibola property is into property development – short stay apartment. We are also into property consultancy.
What really inspired you into property development?
The real estate business is full of fraud and seeing how people are swindled after working so hard to earn their money. I feel with a proper due diligence I can stand in the gap, that is how I decided to venture into the real estate business in a small scale before 2015, in addition to photography and event management businesses. After awhile I saw how lucrative the business was, then I ventured into it fully in 2015 and since then we have helped a lot of people acquire genuine properties till date.
Did you study business administration or something related to business development?
No. I actually studied accountancy at Rivers State University of Science and Technology.
What are your challenges in real estate business and how do you tackle them?
Availability of land has been a great challenge. Also there should be fast and smooth processing of land acquisition and approval. Cost of land should be kept as low as possible and trust me, government should be able to meet developers like me for interaction in order to design policies that would help developers undertake affordable housing projects.
Government should provide access to low interest loans or tax rebates for developers who want to provide low cost housing for the general public and more especially for low income earners who can not afford the expensive houses.
What are the principles that define and stand out Odibola Properties?
Odibola is a company that believes in integrity, service delivery and always ready to listen and solve our clients issues even after the transaction. We are a company that you can do business with and just go to sleep when it comes to property acquisition.
How affordable are your properties? Again, do you give your clients the benefit of buying while you spread payment?
We don’t just sell houses, we also sell land because with the economy of the country, it is not everybody that can afford to buy a house now but they can buy a land, keep it to appreciate and after sometime resell it to build his house. So we have lands for all categories of persons and also have buildings that are affordable for those who also want to buy houses.
I sell houses and I just finished about 11 terraces in GRA area of Port Harcourt, and we are starting a new project of about 42 units of 2 bedroom apartment.
How do you get funds to execute heavy projects?
Well, I started business by going to communities to sign memorandum of understanding with them to help them sell their property at a particular amount agreed. Through that means I was able to gather the capital to fund my building projects with the off takers too who subscribe to the project at the early stage.
I am scared of the bank and also scared of taking funds from individuals because I don’t want anything that will dent my image and make nonsense of my hard work and trust I have built over the years.
So far you have extended your business to some other states in the country, what is your next move?
Once the issue of insecurity reduces in the East, our intend is to expand to the East because many of our clients are from the East and are really eager to see that we have something there that can make them invest in there father land.
We have seen several building collapse in Lagos and other parts of the country, what are those things developers are getting right because they built most of these houses?
Well, the truth is that most developers are not engineers and instead of them to take professional advice they most times want to cut cost which ends result often lead to the collapse of buildings. Developers should not compromise their project and also not place profit above human lives. Government too should ensure that projects are properly monitored to meet with standard and best practices.
What are top 5 rules of business success?
Focus, Integrity, Principled, disciplined and commitment
What are the basic requirements for one who wants to go into your line of business?
Nothing much, they should just develop passion for it and may also start as a Realtor to know the basics. But if they have money to startup, they can just go through little training and start their building projects by employing the services of professional builders.
What should people look out for before buying any land or property?
The budget is the first thing to be considered when buying a land. It does not matter if you have determined to buy a land in any part of the country, the most important thing is having a budget. It is not about just having the desire to buy a land, the question is, do you have the budget for it? No matter the amount you might have saved, it is always important to make research on the cost of buying a land and the extra expenses that are associated with it. The location of the land also matters. .
A lot of things are considered before making a purchase; one of which is choosing the perfect location for your land. Like many other real estate properties, the location plays a vital role in the overall value of the land. The cost of a particular land is dependant on many factors as earlier stated. Also, the size of the land, the purpose of buying the land and availability of social amenities. You also look at how serene the environment is and the security situation because in Nigeria today security is a luxury.
How can people identify authentic real estate agents to avoid been victims of scammers?
It is reported that more than N2 trillion have gone into the drains in property scams in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt alone in Nigeria to fake estate agents and fraudsters who engage in sharp practices to scam unsuspecting prospective property buyers. Fraudsters are numerous in the property markets capitalising on our weak rule of law and high level of corruption in the country. Innocent Nigerians keep falling victim because properties (lands and buildings) are basic needs, a form of investment and a bundle of joy. So it is important to investigate the agent and do a background check on them before investing and it is also important to investigate the land you intend investing in, its geology, neighbouring properties and planning rules.
What is the importance of early real estate investment?
Steady cash flow, owing real estate is a way to boost your monthly income and it gives you a financial freedom because real estate investment appreciates overtime.
Running a real estate business in Nigeria could be very challenging, what is your take and areas should govt come in?
Availability of land has been a great challenge, faster and smoother processes for land acquisition and approval and the cost of land should be kept as low as possible and trust me, Government should be able to meet Developers like me halfway by implementing policies that would help developers undertake affordable housing project . Government should provide access to low interest loans or tax exemptions for developers like me who want to provide low cost housing for the general public more especially for low income earners who can not afford the expensive houses
How many years so far have you successfully managed the business and what are the innovation you have in the pipeline to wow your clients?
Before I officially registered the company in 2015, I had been doing real estate in low key so if I put all the period together it will be upto 15yrs and for the innovation we have in mind, we are developing an App that can help clients track their document, do virtual inspection, book for inspection and allocation at their own time and also interact with clients to know their concerns and see how we can also help them out.
When is the app launching?
Before the end of July, we should be lunching the App and I will also keep you posted.
What is the future of real estate in Nigeria and what are the best ways to sustain the business?
Well, the future of real estate in Nigerian is bright but we also need to tap into the green housing which is a type of housing that is built in order to conserve energy or water, improve indoor air quality, use sustainable, recycled or use materials and produce less waste. It reduces or eliminates the adverse effect of building on environment and occupants.
It is a type of housing which employs multiple strategies such as energy efficiency, water conservation, responsible use of materials and resources, and indoor air quality, in order to alleviate the negative environmental impacts of the built environment. In other words, it is housing designed to be environmental friendly and sustainable.
What do you do to pacify a non satisfied client?
Well, we try to solve the problem because once that is done any client will be satisfied.
What are your expectations from the incoming govt by 2023?
To be sincere, am not Expecting much but I know it will be better than what we have as we will always wish to be better everyday.