Online Real Estate Platforms Emerge in Nigeria, Operators Look to Govt, ICT Advances

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Written by Paul Adepoju

In Nigeria, the real estate industry is characterized with sworn secrecy, clandestine arrangements, bizarre agreements and unimaginable esoteric acts. Having enough money to buy or rent a property is not enough; there is the need to know those that truly matter in the sector.

It has become a familiar occurrence to hear stories of individuals who were swindled of their hard earned money when they engaged the services of fraudsters posing to be agents and/or property owners. This is further compounded by the conflicting and confusing guidelines on real estate conflict resolutions.

There are several TV and radio shows that attempt to resolve property conflicts, most of which happen when a particular property is sold to more than one buyer while lawsuits take years to get a verdict.

For real estate agents, agencies, tour guides, landlords, caretakers and several others involved in the business of real estate, running into desperate individuals is best for business. However, for tech entrepreneurs, it is an opportunity to deploy the power of the World Wide Web to make it easier for Nigerians in need of houses to rent or buy.

According to Oluwafemi Taiwo, Founder and CEO of PrivateProperty.com.ng, Nigeria’s number one online real estate marketplace offers buyers and tenants larger varieties of properties and security.

“The traditional methods left a lot of buyers and tenants with a limited choice of property for sale or rent. As Nigeria’s number one property marketplace, we have a larger variety of properties for users on our site,” he said. “Also, by partnering with certified agents and developers, we aim to boost the confidence of users of our sites in real estate transactions.”

Through online real estate, he said, sanity is being returned to the nation’s real estate sector.

Instilling Trust in Online Real Estate

Showing potential buyers and tenants properties on the internet is not enough, said Dapo Eludire, co-founder and chief operating officer of PropertyPro.ng (formerly ToLet.com.ng) — another online real estate platform which delves into the logistics aspect of real estate. Other components of real estate could also be enhanced by better helping individuals through the process of securing a place, he said.

He raised the issue of trust which seems elusive in the nation’s real estate sector. Eludire noted that it gets more difficult to convince Nigerians to trust a website more than the age-long practice that is involved when looking for real estate properties.

In spite of the trust challenge, he agreed with Taiwo that the benefits outweigh the risks:

“Online real estate has more advantages over the traditional way. [Traditionally], you go to a place like Surulere for instance. You will begin to look for an agent who has a sign outside or runs a local real estate company. He shows you what he has and if you are not satisfied he tells you to come back some other time. A few days later, he calls you after calling some other agencies thus extending the network,” Eludire said.