Mr Lekan Alowonle is the Chief Executive Officer of Lekan Alowonle & Partners, a foremost Chartered Estate Surveyors and Valuers. He speaks with Bode Adewumi on the industry, as well as other issues.
How would you describe your business environment in the country today?
The economic situation in the country is also affecting activities in the sector as there are many vacant properties, both residential and warehouses and so on, lying unoccupied. So we can’t say this is a boom period, but we hope that things will pop up as full operation of the budget is implemented.
What do you think are the major challenges facing the sector?
The major challenge is that of quacks who masquerade as real estate practitioners. They are the people giving the industry bad name. But the advice we give to our clients is to be very careful about patronising quacks. This is the major headache.
Also, the shortage of forex is affecting our operations as those who may want to import building materials and others are finding it difficult to do so. This has made the cost of doing business a bit high. But like I said earlier, we hope that things will lift up in due course.
Another area of interest is the shortage of professional surveyors and valuers in the country because the association is yet to register enough professionals. Therefore, the available hands are not enough to cater to the numerous people who are looking for properties. Again, this is giving room for the upsurge of quacks to operate.
Another challenge is the lack of proper coordination of the activities between the existing registered surveyors. There should be management procedures which should be reviewed periodically to conform to the challenges facing the industry. Also, there should be an agreeable rate to be adopted in valuation excises or in evaluating properties.
Would you say Ibadan is lucrative to do business when compared to places like Lagos, Abuja etc?
Of course, there may be variations, but a good surveyor who knows his onions should be able to do his business anyway. So, I don’t see this place as a barrier to the business. But in terms of human resource, it may be a bit difficult but a thorough professional should be able to find his ways anywhere. You must realise that part of the problem may be getting good hands as many graduates of nowadays are mostly half-baked and may constitute clogs if one is not careful.
Again, some of the young people today, apart from their little knowledge are too impatient to gather experience on the job and will rather cut corners in order to make quick money. This is where the issue of location may be of difference, but outside that, I do not see your location as any problem at all.
As a registered estate valuer with more than 23 years of experience, what advice can you give to the government?
To start with, government is not doing enough to encourage the business of surveying and valuation by giving more room for us to operate to the fullest. For instance, government does not have business building housing estates for workers or other segment of the public, especially when they are building such in the jungle.
They should create conducive environment for professional developers to handle the sector. They can also provide incentives to developers in terms of providing some form of grant to them, but it is wrong for the government to try and build housing estates for the people.
For instance, the Lam Adeshina housing estate along Egbeda road on the way to Ile-Ife is not qualified to be called a housing estate. The one built by Governor Ladoja along Ido road is also not properly cited. Whereas, the new estate at Agodi GRA built by Oodua group in partnership with the Oyo State government is an ideal housing estate that would fully serve the purpose it was created for.
This is why this type of business is better left for professionals just as government may just provide the enabling environment for those who are experienced on the job and then help by giving grant or support in this regard.