The country is tough at the moment. But that shouldn’t be an excuse to sit all day on your butt expecting the government to do you some favors. Being tagged a lazy youth is the fad these days and you don’t want that uncomplimentary label on you.
A veteran estate agent, house agent or agent for short would gleefully go on a monologue about how you can never go hungry in this line of business. That is, if you play your cards right.
And the good thing, he would tell you, is that you don’t need much start-up capital to make it the business. All you need is the willingness to hustle.
So if you don’t have any scruples, this is the career path to set you on the track to becoming the next Dangote.
1. Get an office
Don’t panic about the office part. The house agent job is so flexible you could even set up the office outside your front door.
Anywhere would do as long there is enough traffic.
A good tip: convince the owner of a shop where the business is not really booming to share space with them. The verandah would do okay.
Get that useless bench at the back of your house and use it as the place for your clients to sit. If you look around closely, you would surely find an abandoned plastic table and chair either at home or at a friend’s place. Use it as your office table.
To complete the picture that this is a place of real business, get a notebook where you would collect your clients’ details and so on.
2. Make a signboard
Some people say this is absolutely necessary. How else would passers-by know an agent is right under their nose?
Since you are starting out, your signboard doesn’t have to be elaborate. Get a big plywood board anywhere.
Again, look around the home or neighbors compounds, somebody is sure to have one lying around doing what only lazy woods do – taking up unnecessary space.
It is time to put it to work.
Write down all the types of apartment you have with a white chalk on the board. If your handwriting is as bad as an overworked doctor’s, get your sister or some nice literate female to do it for you.
Somehow, God decided that ladies would have better handwriting than us men. No problem, we can live with that. Making money is more important.
Note that using beautiful writing for the signboard would create a good first impression when potential clients read it.
Again, remember to list all types of apartments. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have any to let out to your clients. Just list then.
Tip: To show how credible you are, include all kinds of fairly used apartments on the signboard. Nigerians love fairly used stuff. From experience, we know they are better than brand new ones.
3. Network aggressively
This is where the real work begins. Get a mentor; preferably a house agent who has been in the job for years.
The old-timers are easy to spot. They look scruffy and behave as if they know everybody in the neighborhood. Forget that after years of being in the business, the riches don’t reflect in their looks.
Don’t allow looks to deceive you. Don’t judge a book by its cover. If you must, ask them why they look poorer than a mouse in a vacant house.
They would tell you it’s best not to flaunt their wealth for security reasons. That aside, in this business, irrational modesty is the best policy, they’d claim. Believe them completely.
Your Mentor, if he is worth his weight in blocks of flats, should be able to introduce you to other agents in the business. They are the people who would let you know where vacant houses are.
You don’t even have to go and inspect the houses. That is not important. What is important is that you have their numbers and can call them anytime to confirm the availability of such houses.
4. Liaise with landlords
This is also important as some landlords can be unreasonable. While you are trying to make as much money as possible in a short time, some of them would try to sabotage you with unreasonably low rents.
Use your powers of persuasion to convince them to increase rent so your own commission would be high. Some would refuse your request. Leave them alone. Karma would deal with them.
In the meantime though, make sure you double your commission for those cheap properties. For instance, you can collect two years commission for a one year rent.
Ensure you register every client that comes to your modest office.
Collect their contact details in your notebook and what they need. Each client must register with at least ₦3000. This fee is non-refundable and it serves to weed out the unserious clients.
Every reputable business collects that fee in one form or the other. Even hospitals collect registration fee; so why not you whose service, providing housing and shelter, is recognized worldwide as fundamental to human existence?
Trust me, you would never lack money if you insist on collecting this fee.
6. Never spend your money for the client
In this business, you must be judicious in the application of your funds.
For instance, the client must bear the full cost of transportation when you need to show them some properties. If possible ensure they buy you lunch to compensate for all the suffering you are going through on their behalf
7. Have photos
Thank God for cheap camera phones. Take pictures of some of the properties and show to clients. Your professionalism would not be in doubt with these photos.
However, make sure only pictures of the best part of the house are taken.
If the toilet is the most beautiful part, snap that and show it to clients. Everybody loves a beautiful toilet.
And if the external environment is cool, snap and show it around to potential clients after collecting that 3k registration fee.
8. Know the language of diplomats
In your case, the definition of a diplomat is someone who can convince anybody to take a trip to hell and look forward to that trip happily.
If the property is in the slummiest part of town, make it look like Banana Island has got nothing on it. If the property is obviously expensive, find a way to make it look like it is the best deal since tithes was reinvented as a cornerstone of Christianity.
In other words, know how to lie glibly while smiling.
9. Have insurance
Insurance here means knowing the meanest thugs in the area. Make friends with them. It doesn’t require much to do that. A drink of illicit gin from time to time is all that is required for them to hail you as ‘baba’!
They would be useful when some clients who think they are smart, refuse to pay up after getting a house via your services.
Inform the thugs about what is at stake. One visit to the client is all that is required for the client to pay up. These boys are really hard-working if you point them in the right direction.
With the hard-working thugs behind you, no client would ever fail to pay the agreed amount no matter how high and unreasonable your fee is.
Don’t forget to settle your boys with a percentage of the take though. They don’t need much to be happy if you play it right.
Now, tell me how you won’t make it as a successful agent with these tips. All those villagers that are trying to block your destiny would surely be put to shame. We at Nigeria News would vigorously root for you as you bamboozle the naysayers.