Like most real estate practitioners, I started my real estate career with dealings in the sub-prime sector of the Nigeria’s real estate market. I got to know of a suburban initiative between the Lagos and Ogun State government and keyed into it. Lands in this area sold at the time for between an average of N500, 000 (Approximately $2, 222) – N1 Million ($4, 444) per plot and the most expensive house (a 3 bedroom bungalow) sold for about N8 Million ($35, 556) per unit.
Back then, this was really a big deal for me but like all forward looking individuals, I wanted more out of this vibrant industry. I wanted to deal with the big boys, have the juiciest briefs and of course make good money. So, I made plans to do so and I’m glad to let you know that this is my reality today. It took me a while and some really bold moves but today, I handle multi- million dollar transactions and I’m getting better at it every day.
Just in case you are where I was like 8 years ago, here are a few tips to help you in your transition:
- Visualise: This is where it all begins, if you can see yourself closing those million dollar deals, getting those high profile briefs and hanging out with high net worth individuals, then you can achieve it. You’ll just have to hold on to this dream in your mind till it’s in your hands. Remember, all things are possible to those who can dare to dream and pursue their dreams with enthusiasm.
- Have a Plan: Moving from sub-prime to prime properties is a big deal and I hate to break this to you but it won’t come easy. Sub-prime properties are a matter of necessity. Leasing properties here for instance is a matter of necessity. They are not expensive and turnover is kind of high but the commissions are really small. I mean compare getting 5% of N400, 000 ($1, 778) rent per annum to making 5% on rent of $65, 000 per annum. I think that just explains everything. The problem here however, is that people are not just going to drop those briefs on your laps because you’re cute and have a funny sense of humour, they need to know you can deliver. You need to have a satisfactory track record of handling this kind of transactions. The question therefore is, how do you get the required experience?
In my case, I worked with a real estate development firm that only builds Luxury and Ultra Luxury properties in the choicest locations in Nigeria and leveraged on their reputation. Your plan may be different from mine, but you’ll definitely need one.
- Get a Mentor: This will save you from wasting precious time, resources and making unnecessary mistakes common to new comers. All my mentor did for me initially was point me to the right books to read and call me up occasionally to see if I had challenges. Of course I went to him whenever I felt frustrated (and this was a lot of times) and he gave me really useful advice most of the time.
- Know Your Market: This cannot be over emphasised, if you intend to survive on this level, you must breath, eat, drink and live real estate. Since you have chosen to operate in the prime market, you must know all there is to know about the near luxury, luxury and ultra-luxury properties in your identified market and acquaint yourself with new developments in the real estate world across the globe. In other words, be current.
- Build Your Network: A friend once told me that you’re only as successful as your network of agents at every given time. Whenever you discover you’ve started having issues with getting briefs/closing deals, you need to know, it may be time to make some adjustments to your network. This may not be easy initially but be tenacious and let your peers in the industry know you’re here to stay. Before long, you’ll identify people you can work with and you share your ideology on matters. Be very careful here though, some agents can be very fraudulent, investigate well before going into transactions with strangers.
- Read for your Life: In this industry, you need to be current. If you intend to deal with really wealthy people, your most effective weapon is knowledge. Most of them can’t stand uninformed people. If they perceive you to be unintelligent, you’ll repel them. The idea is that you may give them wrong advise/information and since their decisions are based on accurate information, they can’t afford a wrong informant.
Remember, these are just basic tips to aid your smooth transition, feel free to research further on topic, you’ll need it. However, remember, where there is a will, there is a way. It is totally doable. So, good luck.