It is common knowledge that the properties and real estate industry contributes immensely to Nigeria’s economic output and gross domestic product(G.D.P).
The Lagos real estate landscape especially boasts of some of the brightest minds in the nation’s real estate and properties arena.One of such is Abiodun Abdul, CEO of Keshab Properties, an Accountant and Economist, who opened up to the Grand Nigeria Business News, on the business of properties in Nigeria, the real estate industry in general and her personal life.
CAN WE MEET YOU?
Abiodun: My name is Abiodun Abdul. I’m a real estate practitioner, I’m also an economist and Accountant.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A REAL ESTATE PRACTITIONER?
Abiodun: Nine years plus. So I’m going to ten years now.
TELL US HOW YOU STARTED YOUR REAL ESTATES JOURNEY
Abiodun: I was into manufacturing while I was an eight to five staff with an organization so the manufacturing was like a side hustle. So, while doing the job, I felt like I wasn’t using my potentials enough. I had a lot of things to do in my head so I said let me try manufacturing. I went to training on how to make soaps and the rest so I started that. Still in the bid that I am not still doing what I wanted to really do, I went for a real estate training and before I went for the training, I had already started reading about real estates, that’s two, three years before then because I’ve seen a lot of great things done in the real estate sector so I felt like I could do real estate and all in my mind was, I wanted to be a very good real estate marketer. Now, you have them in the U.S, you have them in the U.K, they are doing fantastically well, they are highly professional but in Nigeria, Lagos State most especially, agents are very unprofessional. They get people angry, they do a lot of nasty things. I have personally had the experience with them too. So I was just telling myself that if I operate in the marketing space of real estate, I’m not going to do all they do. So I wanted to try that out and that was how I found myself in real estate. So when I went for the training, fortunately form me, the guest speaker for that particular training was my course mate in the university. So after the training, I went to meet him, we exchanged pleasantries and I told him that I really want to start now, that I’ve been reading about it so he said I can come to his company and start so I went to his company and I started marketing real estate and from there, I joined other companies and here I am today.
CAN YOU EXPOSE US TO THE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES INCLUSIVE IN KESHAB PROPERTIES?
Abiodun: We are a property company and equally an investment company and our investment is in property. The opportunities available that we have offered in the past and are equally available now, is for Nigerians and non-Nigerians as well who would like to make good returns from any form of investment they do with us and Nigerians who are looking at getting on their own ownership ladder, that’s people who would like to own a piece of land. Some people buy land for land banking purposes, not to build. They already have where they live, so our investment opportunities is for people who want to make good money in investment.
CAN YOU GIVE US A RUNDOWN OF KESHAB PROPERTIES?
Abiodun: Keshab properties was incorporated specifically in 2017. We’ve been in real estates before then but full operational procedures started in 2017 and from 2017 till now, we’ve been able to help over 500 clients to own their lands and homes as well. It’s close to a thousand now.
HOW MANY PROPERTIES HAVE YOU DEVELOPED SO FAR?
Abiodun: We’ve fully developed four properties and we have six ongoing. Basically, most of our developments are within the Ajah, ibeju-lekki, Epe axis.
WHAT IS KESHAB’S COMPETITIVE APPROACH IN THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS?
Abiodun: Affordability, genuity and professionalism.
WHAT IS YOUR UNIQUE SELLING POINT?
Abiodun: Our unique selling point is that our properties appreciate so fast. People get to invest now and in the next twelve months, they are happy that their investment has doubled and even tripled. The reason for that is that we develop our estates and you know development is what makes an estate; beautiful fencing, layout, roads and all so, we focus highly on that.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE IN AND OUT OF OFFICE TASK?
Abiodun: I plan my time basically. Like days that I don’t come to the office, I go to site and I will sit there from morning till night till end of business just to make sure they are doing the right thing. So days I’m going to come to the office, I’ll be in the office and I’ll do the office task. So, planning basically.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN KESHAB PROPERTIES AND THE LAND OWNERS (OMO NILE)?
Abiodun: So far so good, I’ll tell you that 70%, we have a very good relationship. In fact, sometimes we stay on our own and they come to us telling us that they have lands they want to sell, they want us to be the one to buy. That’s because of the past relationship that we’ve had and how good it was so I’ll say 70%. The rest 30%, I’ll tell you, they are really a pain in the ass for us.
WHAT TYPE OF TECHNOLOGY DO YOU USE TO IMPROVE YOUR SELLING PROCESS?
Abiodun: Digital Technology.
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE IN DEALING WITH DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS AND HOW YOU HANDLED THEM?
Abiodun: Once in a while, we get them; very very difficult clients. People we want to satisfy and in the bid to want to satisfy them, they still get angry. So you now wonder, what do you do because you’re trying to give them the best but what I did recently is, fortunately she came from a realtor that is, a marketer. I ended the conversation because in a bid to help her, she was getting angry the more so the only option then was to just stop the conversation, so I spoke to the realtor and then she was able to talk to her.
DOES KESHAB OPERATE WITH AFFILIATES?
Abiodun: We do have partners. We call them our executive partners in form of realtors, marketers, agents, affiliate companies who are also well established real estate companies and they don’t do development so they bring us clients and we pay them.
WHERE DO YOU SEE KESHAB PRROPERTIES IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
Abiodun: I’ll take you back to the last five years. In the last five years, keshab properties was not even a development company at all and today, we can boast of over ten estates which more than half are fully sold out so bringing that to the present and the future which is the question you asked me, in the next five years, I personally see Keshab properties and investments playing as one of the major real estate players in Nigeria and even outside Nigeria developing topnotch real estate products in terms of houses. Going forward we’re looking into doing more of housing than lands
WHAT UNFAVOURABLE GOVERNMENT POLICIES DO YOU THINK AFFECT THE REAL ESTATE SECTOR?
Abiodun: In Lagos state, the law guiding real estate, let’s say the land use act is not favorable to real estate companies. It’s more favorable to the government and the traditional owners so we do quite a lot and if I must say, real estate companies are the ones really bringing out the goodies in the real estate industry and now we’re not really favored with the laws so it’s really a big challenge for us. So, I must tell you; the land use act, the land grabber laws, all the laws are not favorable to real estate companies. We spend a whole lot and even after spending, you’re not guaranteed of any reasonable information that you’re looking for. I must tell you, even to search for the status of a land is a big problem in Lagos. You need to go extra mile, there is no data, a lot of problems. Just because we are determined to continue that’s why we continue because if we look at that, we’ll be discouraged.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT CAN DO BETTER?
Abiodun: To bring out laws and decrees that will make our work easier, that can also give us a better breathing space, that will encourage us. Like title processing for instance now, should be a bit simpler, less expensive, because it’s whatever we spend that we pass on to the people and if governance is about the people, then the real estate companies who are the intermediaries are supposed to have very good relationship.
WHO IS AT FAULT WHEN IT COMES TO POOR CONSTRUCTION?
Abiodun: It’s majorly on the developers. Basically, most of those problems are with the developer who wants to maximize profit. They actually know that this depth of drainage is not going to serve this environment but because if they do the external drainage, it’s going to reduce their own profit. Some of them lack the expertise, they rush. Though it comes back to them, that’s the developers who don’t do their due diligence right, who do not engage professionals when it comes to building. When it comes to building and construction, I engage professionals who are well read in that aspect. Even if I know, I make sure I still let professionals do it because it’s still going to come back to me so it’s better to do the right thing.
WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU BELIEVE MAKE UP AN EFFECTIVE REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL?
Abiodun: A good real estate practitioner should have good education. Related to real estate or not, you must have sound education and a good real estate practitioner must be very detailed. When I mean detailed, I mean paying good attention to details because our work is life threatening.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF REAL ESTATE IN NIGERIA?
Abiodun: The future of real estate in Nigeria is very bright. We are already competing with the international market. We’re already doing constructions that match up with the international community. So, in the next couple of years, Nigerian real estate market is going to experience massive development and we’re going to have a lot of interesting projects coming up in the next five years. It’s highly promising, so far the environment is enabling enough for us the practitioners.
DO YOU THINK HOME OOWNERSHIPS ARE OPEN TO THE GRASSROOTS?
Abiodun: No it’s not. I must tell you that this is something that whenever I think of it, I’m not fulfilled. I’m not happy because when we said we’re solution oriented, we are providing solutions and we have 98% of the population at the grassroots who cannot afford what we’re selling. Are we actually providing solutions? Now, this is where we come in. This is one of the most interesting things about us, affordability. People get to be able to afford our properties. At least a good number of the Nigerian population can afford our properties. We presently have affordable housing and we’re still going to continue providing affordable lands and houses.
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN BRING IN MORTGAGE INTO YOUR SYSTEM AS A PRIVATE SECTOR?
Abiodun: I tried going into mortgage brokerage at the beginning of my career and I found out that it’s very difficult in this part of the country, you know why? Cost of funds are very high. I found out that it is impossible for private sectors operating in Nigeria to buy mortgage facilities. Government are the only ones that can do it, not private sector.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR COOPERATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR)?
Abiodun: As a company, Keshab properties has not yet done any cooperate social responsibility but on a personal ground, I empower people through trainings.