Experts identify absence of standardisation as bane of estate agency practice in Lagos

Estate agents are still suffering from negative perceptions owing to some missing ingredients among the practitioners which need to be corrected.

This was the observation made at the annual stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Lagos State Real Estate Department (LASRETRAD), a department under the Ministry for Housing, last week, to look at how the practitioners can get improvement on their day-to-day activities.

The event that had as its theme: “Standardising Real Estate Agency Practice in Lagos State”, took place at Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa, and in attendance were government officials, representatives of various estate agents associations, legal practitioners, among others.

Speaking on the subject, the guest speaker, Mr Tope Ojo of Tope Yinka Ojo Associates, an estate surveyor, who harped on the need to introduce the necessary regulations capable of bringing sanity to the system, said practice of estate agency in Nigeria has left much to be desired.

Ojo, who cited South Africa and Canada as examples of where best international practices held sway, noted that the former has more than 40,000 estate agents, and has an Estate Agency Affairs Board, that regulates their activities and set standards.

He stated for instance that while it required 12 months’ internship in South Africa before one could be registered as estate agent, it was also compulsory for further education and training and a certificate in real estate before one is allowed to practice.

“Unlike in Nigeria, where the sector is for all comers, candidates must pass professional designate examination, and be with a principal of a firm where another examination is required before a license is issued, which is yearly renewable.

“Similarly in Canada, one must complete a course, pass an examination through Principal Real Estate Association, with internship to be observed,” he said.

“But because these professional recommendations are missing in Nigerian, especially, Lagos State, it’s not surprising that estate agents engage in sharp practices, collecting rent of one apartment from five or more people, and even, sometimes, colluding with unscrupulous property owners to swindle unsuspecting tenants”, lamented Ojo.

As the way forward, Ojo suggested that property market should be sanitised, but first, the practice of estate agency need the necessary standardisation. Besides, he advocated for the establishment of Licensing Authority, where registration of all estate agents would be documented.

“There should be professional indemnity through insurance; creation of categories of licensed members, such as Principals Agents, Ordinary Agents, and most importantly, creation of State Agency Board in conjunction with the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors (NIESV)”, Ojo recommended, urging agents to stop collection of illegal fee, by limiting themselves to commission on property, which is their legitimate income.

Earlier, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by his Special Adviser on Housing, Mrs. Mudirat Aramide Giwanson, noted that a major contributory factor that has aided sustenance of the unacceptable practices is the unorganised and unregulated of estate agency’s practice,

“As a result of lack of a central professional/regulatory body that will set minimum standard and code of ethics for practitioners, the practice has been left open to all comers, including those who do not have the basic training and qualification”, he said, urging the stakeholders to arrive at a workable solution to the menace constituting by many agents.

Similarly, Director, Estate Department, Ministry for Housing, Mr. Babatude Oyegbola, who stood in for the Special Adviser, said the department was established in 2012, to regulate and monitor the activities of real estate agents in Lagos.

According to Oyegbola, the objective was to ensure that real estate practice in the state is carried out in line with global best practices.

“Since it’s establishment, the Department has taken proactive measures in line with its mandate, which is to eliminate quackery and other fraudulent practices usually perpetrated by dubious and fake estate agents”, he said, noting that 2017 theme of discussion is in line with the administration of Governor Ambode’s established standard to engage all people by ensuring wide consultation on issues of specific and common interests.

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