Since the beginning of this year, I have been on a hunt for an apartment. The last time I had any dealing with characters in such business was around 1995 when the family newly moved to Lagos –long story short, Father was swindled of some money by some agents.
We finally moved to Lagos and lived in an apartment at Ketu for some 8 years before moving out of the state to Benue state. The experience at Benue was quite different. The two accommodations we got, in the space of six years, were without strings attached or any middle man that goes by the name ‘agent’.
The aforesaid experiences—one happened during my formative years the other in my early 20’s— juxtaposed with my current experience, makes me marvel at the state of our society. I decided to share some of my observations with you. Enjoy.
First lesson in looking for an apartment in Lagos is the sudden realisation that all those makeshift boards and notices become relevant. Those signs you chose to ignore become prominent in your life. And, they spring up surprises too. My experience threw up every [un]imaginable character as an estate agent: the barber, the hair dressing saloon, the mechanic, the police officer and even a deaf! You have to brace yourself for these surprises and carry on as though it matters not if you want to make a success of your search. In hunting for an accommodation you would need to look for more of those signs than an actual vacant apartment.
In every makeshift shop that goes with the name of estate rent and commission agent’s office, no deal is deal until the payment of the initial money for registration form. Here you have to look out for the ridiculous to the pathetic. Even without you seeing any apartment they ensure you part with this sum. No fixed cost is charged but they measure you up according to your dressing. The psychology of this game is they make you believe that there is an available apartment ready for inspection upon your registration. Alas! After you drop your pay, stories prop up, the agent with the key to the house is on some sites, the landlord does not like people coming around in the afternoon etc. You save the stress for your head by making them believe the money is ready and you shall pay all due to them as soon as you see and like the place.
The pitiable state of our nation reeks to the heavens. I didn’t know how fallen we were until the recent weeks. You call an agent on phone and you wish to go inspect an apartment but suddenly, from the blues, your state of origin matters than the amount you which to pay. Never in my life has the state of origin become so played out. Now, my first name Charles confuses the old landlords and ladies.
“Which Yoruba man goes by such a name?” they frequently asked
In fact, some doubted the surname that comes after until they can establish I speak Yoruba fluently.
Having been privileged to experience other communities with their open hospitality, I question the sincerity of the Yoruba people in this nation. They are the least travelled [dispersed within the country] and the most myopic [prejudiced] set of people I have known. They form stereotypes and biases on ill-conceived notions of others.
Others wanted to know my kind of job which is a sensible request until they start to probe into what kind of Sales I am into. Is it commission sales and why? They stopped short of asking for my actual salary and account balance. I laughed most of the time, not knowing how to explain that the marketing they have come to know in Nigeria Is far from what I practise and that we are not necessarily poor as marketers and that I don’t wish to stay beyond my first instalment in such apartment anyway.
If you want to under study a case in desperation go to an estate agent. They are always in haste and have so many people of any vacant apartment per time. They sale you the apartment with all your possible objections with readily available solution upon your payment; what is funny, most of them sold me out with such errors that I didn’t even notice.
I guess in real estate silence is a negotiation skill. After inspecting some houses and weighing on my options. Some agents called soon after to make another offer mostly to reduce initial asking price with tempered terms. Here, you can’t be too careful, even if the money is ready a tad delay may mean you getting a cheaper bargain but if you like it, go for it—with these agents, first come…
New Calculation of 10%:
What is the justice of collecting a quarter of your rent in the name of Agreement and Commission? Agreement with who, In the presence of whom?
10% only becomes 10% when you are renting apartments in the region of 500,000 to 1,000,000. For anything lesser they charge random rates and still ask you to sign to paying 10%.
My stubborn mind would not let me allow it to pass until I was re-schooled on the art of estate agents’ commissioning.
Those are my observations so far.
No, I haven’t got an apartment yet; we are still searching [in the neighbourhood of Ogudu] with the corporation of my new ‘friends’. 🙂
Wish me luck!