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How to wring millions out of real estate

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You can be a property owner—from owning land of your own and building on it to buying properties from people and selling. Let’s read what Olakunle Yakubu has to say in this interview with Aisha Yahaya 

 

Tell me about your business?

My name is Olakunle Yakubu, I am 30 years old from Ogun state. I did my primary school at Ebenezer African church, Abeokuta and secondary school at Orile Ilugun Comprehensive High School, Odeda Local Government Area, Ogun. I proceeded to Moshood Abiola Polytechnic where I studied marketing and later obtained my degree certificate in business administration from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

The name of my business is Property&Co and it is owned and controlled by me and my friend Yinka Yusuf. We are into real estate, buying and selling of housing, property, construction and renovation, interior and 3D design, automation and smart homes, mortgage and management services, support and consultation and so on.  

How did you develop the idea and start it?

I started developing interest in real estate during my NYSC and my primary post of assignment was in Sow Real Estate Company. Three months to the end of my service with them, I was given a one-year appointment. After that expired, I later got another one-year appointment with Ifedi AK Homes. The last job I got was in Darksn Real Estate Developer and it was just six months. After some time with them, a close colleague who I worked with and now my partner in this business came up with the idea that we shouldn’t work for the company anymore, and as we already know our work and what we can deliver, therefore we can resign to

start our own company using our creativity and other aspects of our knowledge for our own selves. We agreed on the decision and we left the company to build our own and registered it. 

He is the major stakeholder of the company. We created and designed it and then got an office too. Since 2019, we have been working for ourselves and not for anyone’s company again. And now, we are making progress although it has not been so easy, we invested our personal savings for most of the project. 

Was there any expertise consultation? 

 

No. We only felt that we had the prerequisite knowledge and skills about real estate and we know how it works to some extent and we were part of the most important staff in the company where we had worked. We just had to leave based on financial and other technical issues. We really relied on our knowledge that we didn’t consult any expert before we set up our company. 

 

Do you have another job or do you take this as full time?

 

Not really a job, I will call it a side hustle that I used to do in supporting myself like web design and cyber activities but now, my current job is real estate construction and I am into it full time.

 

How do you validate the idea and start it?

 

Right from the company we worked at, we already had connections and contact base of clients that we are dealing with, people who want properties, houses, land and people who want us to build for them. We used the strength and revisited some of these people for good results. It was these contacts that led us from one client to another and some of them helped us to achieve our aim. 

 

Why did you go for real estate management?

 

Real estate is the most lucrative business out there because whether there is inflation or deflation in the country, real estate will continue to rise. It is that business investment that will give you peace of mind and would generate you the cash you used in the future run. That was the reason my friend and I thought about it and decided to venture into it and become the boss of ourselves. 

 

What is the hardest part of the experience?

 

Bad experiences have taught a lot of people, they are scared and skeptical to invest in this business because of their previous experiences with people. We find it difficult to convince people about our company because their mind has been made up with the mentality that real estate is a scam, especially people living in Abuja and Lagos. 

 

High cost of land or house is another challenge that we are facing. We know well that houses are expensive. For example, in Gwarinpa when someone wants to get a plot of land or constructed house, to convince them about the quality and guarantee is always tough yet people need it but the prices are high and discouraging. 

Competition is another thing in our business, real estate is an industry that is saturated. There should be that quality that differentiate us from others, either honesty, credibility and so on or after sales service. There are a lot of people who are selling these properties, they can even lower their prices compared to ours and ours is the best and we are selling the same thing.

 

For example, when we wanted to help someone sell his land on 3rd Avenue for N100 million, and in the same location a competitor is selling at a cheaper rate than that; this situation is always what we face most of the time but because we have the skill and knowledge, sometimes we try to navigate through and sometimes it doesn’t work out. 

 

Why do you love this business?

 

I love this business because there is a future in it. It is a career business and it has no limitations.

 

What are the procedures to this business?

 According to John Maxwell, only 30 percent of your wealth in life comes from knowledge and skills and the remaining 70 percent of your wealth comes from contact you build with people.  

So first, before going into the real estate business, you have to know what you are selling, be conversant with all the details of your property that you want to sell. Your first enemy is you, therefore you have to be prepared psychologically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually and after that, you find contacts of clients.

 

Did you read any book that helps you to grow your business?

 

Well, I am not really a fan of reading books but I have read business books which are not really related to real estate management and the only one I could remember is The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. Mostly I do my research from Google and get answers to my questions. 

 

How many staff do you have?

 

For now, I don’t personally own the company but I own it with a friend and we only have a secretary who helps to manage clients and take record of them. We do pay her N25,000 every month as salary. 

 

How much profit do you make from this business?

 

The profit we make is unpredictable. There are some periods where we have sales and some periods, we make no sales at all. It is when we get property and we sell to our clients we make profit. 

The monthly evaluation sometimes can be N1 million after deducting the running costs. 

 

How do you grow relationships with your clients? 

We grow our business by looking for good properties either house or land in a prime location for high income earners and take good quality videos and pictures of them. 

Secondly, we look for others for low-income earners in low developed areas and do background checks of those properties if they are genuine. 

We then negotiate with the developers and property owners to reduce the prices in order to protect buyers’ interest.

We push it to family, friends, existing clients on WhatsApp and other platforms for referral because we have a database for our existing and old clients with Instagram ads to promote it to the general public including potential clients and link Instagram with Facebook to make sure it appears in all. 

There are working websites where people can make enquiries about our company and properties; we run advertisements on Nigeria property centers to get more clients and are easy to locate and connect with.

We have strong knowledge of all our products should there be objections from clients and we would arrange for inspections for them to be sure the property they are buying is genuine before paying a dime.

Necessary documents are also attached to the property if necessary and we close the deal before requesting for our own agency fee.

We also construct for some of our clients too and we have some different projects with certified engineers. These are the various ways in which we grow our relationship with our client. 

 

What are the memorable experiences you have with your customers?

 

When things were tough from the start, when we were trying to make customers of our own, there was a client in Gwarimpa at Efab Estate that said we should meet to discuss property. I went there on Keke. Reaching the location to join him in his car to go and show him the property, he said I cannot enter with him and that he does not allow strangers into his car, therefore I should enter a different cab and follow him.

I was underrated and I felt embarrassed; it was unkind of him but I said to myself that no condition is ever permanent. 

Many related experiences and ill treatment have happened like this during the struggle but I thank God today I am telling a story. 

 

What worked and what didn’t work for you?

 

What didn’t work for us is that some clients will want to override us, take us for granted. In this business, we don’t have to be too gentle and nice, people will always look down on us and that doesn’t work for us. What works for us is honesty. I am always open to my clients; I don’t deceive them irrespective of any situation and it is working in my favor. I have clients who are in other states and before they buy any property, they will have to consult me. 

Another thing is that I know what I’m doing and I am good at doing my job and when clients see how skilful my ideas are, they do take me seriously.

 

What is your marketing strategy? 

 We use an open price strategy, and at times we use striking tactics. For instance, when we fix a N50 million price for a property, we know they will always want to negotiate, so we also make sure our client is connected to the real owner of the property. 

 

Once we know a client has an issue with price, we take them directly to the owner of the property to be sure that apart from our own charges, we don’t cheat and we also try to protect their interest and that is why we do negotiate on behalf of customers from the seller for price reduction. 

We also have good customer relationships and services. We don’t sell out property to our clients and leave them, we follow up to the last stage of the process. What differentiates us from others is that when they sell a land or property to their client, they will collect their charges and the clients do the rest of the process but as for our company, we are there for you, we would monitor and follow up until you get the papers and documents to avoid having a future misunderstanding. 

 

What differentiates you from other competitors?

In terms of competition, we always have three terms that our company stands on, these are; location, price and credibility or information rather. Any property we are selling, we always try to sell it in a good location, providing full information about the property we are selling out, and we negotiate in customers’ interest to acquire the lowest price possible for them. And this has made us different from our competitors. 

 

What have you learnt from this business?

 

I have learnt that being in a business is the most difficult thing to do, especially changing customers’ taste. Like a few years back, people preferred to buy land but now most people prefer to buy a house and knowing all these changes of choice is the most important thing I have learnt.

 

Do you have advice for people who want to go into real estate business?

 The advice I have for them is that they need to know that real estate is a lucrative business if they are ready to endure the challenges for some time. At the beginning it will be tough, but with time the effort put in will be worth the success and achievements. 

 

Would you want to go for this business again if you are asked to?

 

Yes of course I will go for it because I believe I can do more than what I have done to achieve this. Real estate goes beyond buying and selling property for people.

 I want to have my own land where I can start building on it for people to buy from me as my own and not selling land and property of other people.

 In the future there will be wealth in real estate and it will expose me more to different people. This business has given me the opportunity to meet with wealthy people—politicians, business tycoons, royal people—from different states in the country and I would like to still go into it again.

 

How much does someone need to start up this business?

 

What people need is money to build up and I cannot specifically say the amount that will be enough to start but my important note to them is that they will need to hunt for contacts of people who can link them up for bigger and more opportunities, offices to meet clients. They will need a working website, email, phone number, ID card and business card. After these, they can start promoting their business on social media and also have other marketing apps that can bring customers to them like Jiji and Nigeria Property Center where they can advertise their properties.

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Aisha Yahaya
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