Tuesday, July 14, 2020 2:52 am
By Bayo Adeyinka
Lagos is a small place where 20m people live. 77 people arrive every hour in Lagos- most of them with no plan of where to stay. So that’s where you come in. You are a creation of necessity. To be an agent in Lagos is more lucrative than being a banker. That is about the only job that can never be affected by a pandemic or lockdown- the exception is being a policeman.
A Lagos agent must be physically fit because of the ‘waka’. You must have the ability to roam to and fro, looking for clients to devour. You can be at Oworonshoki now and a client is waiting for you at Ajah. You should be able to run upstairs in a 4-storey building with potential house hunters panting after you. One of the things you must learn to say is ‘we go soon reach there’. Or if you’re a Yoruba agent, ‘a ti fẹẹ de’bẹ’- even if the destination is one hour away. When you finally get there and your client is livid with anger because of the distance, just tell them ‘ko jina rara’ (It wasn’t far at all). It’s not your fault they are not fit. Have you ever seen a fat Lagos agent? If you’re fat, this job is not for you.
The most important qualification to be an agent is to be annoying. The more annoying you are, the better an agent you are. Right from the initial contact to every other engagement, your client must have a regular dose of your irritability. Yes, apart from a lawyer, an agent is the only other person who refers to his customer as client. Truly, to engage a Lagos agent is like having a case.
Another quality you need which is very close to being annoying is to be a time waster. You must master the ability to take your clients on a wild goose chase. Even if you have good-looking properties, show them the run-down ones first. Otherwise, how will they appreciate the job you’re doing if you go straight to the point? A good agent never goes straight. A 20-minute trip should take you one hour as you detour and make numerous stops. Endeavour to take your clients to properties you have no access to. Make a fit of anger at the locked entrance and speak brashly to some imaginary person on the phone who took the key away without your knowledge. Apologize to the client and go to another property.
As you’re on the way to inspect properties, remind your client they have not filled your agency form and it is actually N5,000. Let them know you consider them a serious client and that is why you’ll waive the form fee of N5,000 but you’ll take an inspection fee of N2,000. You’re so kind enough to leave your ‘office’ without the form being filled- never mind that your ‘office’ has no fixed address. With that, you’re sure that something will drop at the end of the day. You also need to note that a good agent does not conclude a property search same day. Your customer should never have it easy otherwise your relevance is short-lived. The harder you make it, the more important in the scheme of things you become. Life must be hard in Lagos. Since they refused to stay in their village, they must have sense by force. You’re a tool to instill that common sense.
Plan to keep your client looking for a property for months. It doesn’t matter if all he’s looking for is a self-contained apartment, a 2 bedroom flat or an office space. Your client must be milked. If you’re a godly agent, you can release your client after a 2-month search. Otherwise, plan for up to 6 months. It’s part of your hustle as the client becomes your monthly salary. Every viewing equals a new pay.
To be a top agent, you must be in an entanglement with a network of other agents. You must understand agents have their ‘bro code’. No agent has exclusive right to any property. Even if it’s yours and another agent brings a client, you must slide into the background and allow the other agent negotiate and conclude. All properties with a ‘To Let’ signage belongs to the agent that is with the client- forget the name written on the banner. If there is no electricity in an area, the other agent quickly arranges for a generator during the period of viewing for the client to assume power is stable. If there is no water, tell them the pumping machine just had a minor fault and it will be repaired same day. No startup capital is required to be an agent. You don’t need to have a property of your own. All properties are yours and you either have a direct brief or semi-direct brief- whatever that means. This is the only job where experience is not required.
As an agent in Lagos, your phone should always run out of credit. The only ability you’re required to have is the ability to ‘flash’. Your clients looking for houses are obligated to call you. And when you do meet them and need to confirm one thing or the other from the landlord, all you need to do is to tell the client you don’t have ‘credit’ and you need to call. They will hand over their phone to you respectfully. They need you more than you need them.
A single female client is more preferred but you must understand the tricks of the game. Tell her the Landlord does not like to rent out his house to single ladies but you will assist her. She will be willing to give a more generous handout and won’t even negotiate your commission. She also won’t visit the landlord behind you. But guys? They’re up to no good. They are hardly generous and will come back to the property the moment you both leave.
As an agent, you must have an incredible ability to ‘sweet-talk’ your client. That is one skill you must have in abundance. Send a particular picture of an available property but talk your client into seeing a different one of lower value. If he asks about the one he saw in the picture, tell him someone just paid. It’s not your fault that he didn’t respond fast enough. You can talk your client into building up a carcass by themselves. Or give him a room in a brothel. For instance, if someone is buried at the entrance of the property and the client expresses surprise, just tell him to ‘jump am pass’. The late landlord is sleeping and the client is looking for a place to sleep- none should disturb the other. Or tell him the burial ground is a natural security guard. Who will come and steal from that house when the dead is watching over the property? As an agent, you must say nonsense with your chest out. Just pretend you’re making sense.
You can even be confident enough to ask your client to buy roasted corn for you on the way to ‘viewing’ a property. He is obligated to feed you for the day as you’re his liability.
Now to negotiation. When talking initially, tell the client the cost of rent only. It is when you can gauge the level of interest that you tell them the ‘total package’. Rent can be N500,000 but total package is N900,000. Total package includes agreement and commission. As an agent, your commission is not negotiable. You didn’t come to count bridge in Lagos. You also have a dream to be a developer. You must write your own book- From Lagos Agent To Lagos Developer. And appear in Ovation even as you aspire to perspire.
If you’re an agent in lesser cities like Ibadan, Osogbo, Owerri and Enugu, your prayer should be that you graduate to Lagos quickly because that’s the real deal.
NB: This is a satire but agents don show me for Lagos. When I just moved to Lagos, an agent told me he had a fantastic place for me. I was excited. I left my office in Apapa and he took me to a place around Yaba. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got there. It was a dingy room located in a brothel. There were prostitutes everywhere and they were selling paraga downstairs. The guy told me ‘shebi’ it’s for me to sleep and wake up. I was so annoyed I walked out of the place and didn’t allow him to enter my car. As I drove off, he shouted, ‘Oga, I no get transport’.