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Tackling menace of faux property builders, fraudsters

DAMILOLA AINA writes on the rising charge of land and housing scams within the nation, the modus operandi utilized by unlawful builders and methods to finish the menace.

A 35-year-old businesswoman, Esther Yohanna, wants a brand new condo. She acquired in contact with an agent who promptly “confirmed her the best way”. It turned out to be the best way of deceit.

The variant of lodging she wants prices a whopping N10.2 m. For ease of fee, she parted with N1.25m as half fee. Unknown to her, the agent she has been coping with is a kind of phoney components whose actions have portrayed the nation in a foul mild for years.

The agent out of the blue grew to become unreachable, leaving Esther with little various however to hope for some form of luck. This was when her path crossed with our correspondent, who wasted no time in telling her that the stated agent was not solely faux however artful. The stated condo was non-existent, our correspondent advised her, at the same time as he admonished her to hold out background checks on listed property earlier than making funds.

She stated, “At first of this yr, I wanted an condo for myself. I met an agent who took me round homes. Every little thing was wanting actual till I paid N1.25m representing 10 per cent of the required quantity of N10.2m as a down fee.

“Immediately, I couldn’t attain the agent as his numbers weren’t reachable and he was not the occupant of the small workplace he used as deal with. It pained me however thank God I didn’t give the entire quantity as a result of I might not have been capable of forgive myself.”

The expertise of Esther amongst different Nigerians is a typical incidence in main cities within the nation, not excluding Abuja, the nation’s capital. Actions of phoney brokers have been on the rise in latest occasions due largely to unemployment. They (faux brokers) goal unsuspecting ‘purchasers’, a few of whom are new to the Federal Capital Territory. These brokers give attractive incentives that are tough to withstand.

From the promise of fundamental facilities reminiscent of a swimming pool, free WIFI and company fee of as little as three per cent to uninterrupted energy provide amongst others, they lure unsuspecting victims to half with their hard-earned cash for non-existent residential property.

The story is advised of how a job seeker paid the sum of N800,000 which he received in a lottery in 2013 for a faux two-bedroom condo within the Wuse 2 district of Abuja. The fee made the younger man to find belatedly the ‘associates’ he had been coping with have been hustlers who had no enterprise as property brokers.

Tales like this abound in Abuja’s metropolis centre and surrounding suburbs as housing is a fundamental want for each man, together with road beggars. The bliss of getting a safe place to relaxation one’s head at nightfall is underestimated till one wants shelter.

In Nigeria, the shortage of an reasonably priced house has been a recurring subject within the nation, rising from unhealthy to worse on yearly foundation. The issue is exacerbated by the fast enlargement of the inhabitants, which is rising at a charge of about 2.6% per yr.

With rents hitting the rooftop, the dream of a median Nigerian is to at some point grow to be a home proprietor and escape the endless stranglehold of shylock landlords.

As each Nigerian grownup incomes an honest revenue needs to be a home-owner, this implies extra enterprise for property builders who’re within the endless enterprise of fixing housing deficits.

Consequently, this interprets to multi-dollar investments, at the same time as monetary specialists challenge the trade as one of many most secure methods to get worth for cash. The overall rule of thumb right here is that whereas the dynamic nature of human existence can shortly change, actual property is one exception to this rule as it’s not weak to being outmoded, nor can or not it’s phased out.

Sunday PUNCH observes that whereas property buyers are searching for to finish housing challenges within the nation, unlawful builders are arising with progressive methods to swindle gullible and unsuspecting prospects.

In 2022, a whopping 200 circumstances of housing fraud involving potential tenants, landlords and brokers have been recorded between January and August in Lagos State.

As a matter of truth, the frequent incidence of those scams propelled the state authorities to supply pointers in direction of what might represent a crimson flag for potential tenants, advising them to watch out for quacks and faux professionals within the state’s rental market who declare to be landlords and real property brokers.

The Particular Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Housing, Toke Benson-Awoyinka, at a stakeholders’ discussion board for legal professionals in actual property apply acknowledged that the lack of the developer to point out correct apply licence or documentation to again up claims, insistence on having funds routed by means of private financial institution accounts are a few of the modes of operation of faux builders.

She stated, “In Lagos, these faux builders have completely different modus operandi, which makes it considerably tough to inform if one is coping with a official agent or a charlatan. Nonetheless, there are a couple of indicators that would function hints to a potential tenant that he/she is coping with a fraudulent particular person.

“A few of these pointers might embrace the lack of the developer to point out correct apply licence or documentation to again up his claims, insistence on having funds routed by means of private financial institution accounts and the lack of the developer to reply sure basic questions concerning the property, amongst others.”

Talking solely with Sunday PUNCH, the Govt Secretary, Affiliation of Housing Firms of Nigeria, Toye Eniola, defined {that a} background examine of enlisted property, asking necessary questions on the true proprietor would save anybody the heartbreak of wasted funds.

He added that the laziness of intending patrons to hunt correct consultations with regulatory our bodies has made it simpler for scammers to good the artwork.

He stated, “Scammers are all over the place. And what’s going to mitigate this downside is for potential patrons to conduct background checks on the property. It’s a must to have interaction in an official search in regards to the property; that’s what will decide whether or not the property is real.

“Ask for the Certificates of Occupancy; it will be important additionally to verify whether it is real as a result of there are additionally faux Certificates of Occupancy. Sadly, most Nigerians don’t need to undergo this ‘stress’ of obligatory checks. They only need to make fee and pack in.

“After this, be sure you meet the true proprietor of a property. You should examine all of those and remember to know the one that is claiming to be the proprietor. Ask for the identification playing cards of the assumed home-owner and crosscheck with the names written on the property doc. These are the methods to resolve this menace.”

Talking additional, the secretary famous that property provided at a really low worth and never at variance with prevailing market traits inside that neighborhood ought to be a crimson flag to any potential purchaser.

“Above all, we’d like a regulatory physique that can management the apply of gross sales and advertising of actual property in Nigeria. We will’t resolve the issues if we will’t resolve that.

“There’s additionally a necessity for certification for brokers to apply in the true property area if we’re to maneuver ahead. Some brokers simply lease a small workplace, rip-off folks after which disappear. So, we’d like a regulatory physique that can present certification,” he acknowledged.

Whereas an analogue strategy is in vogue in Lagos, faux builders in Abuja have employed using social media to swindle gullible subscribers.

Not too long ago, the FCTA alerted residents on the proliferation of unlawful housing estates and different developments within the capital metropolis.

The Director of the Division of Improvement Management, Mukhtar Galadima, who gave the warning in a press briefing, famous that the alarm grew to become obligatory following an increase of faux adverts utilizing 4K cameras and drones to seduce harmless prospects by means of fascinating social media movies by land grabbers and unlawful builders of housing estates till each penny is spent.

However trade specialists say the non-regulation of the true property sector had made it accessible to fraudulent builders who swindle unsuspecting house seekers.

Talking in an earlier interview with our correspondent, the Govt Director, Housing Improvement Advocacy Community, Festus Adebayo, stated, “Pretend property builders are the reason for the issue. It’s time for our authorities to create legal guidelines that can defend customers of actual property merchandise. Many individuals in Diaspora and Nigerian have gotten victims.

“Who’s defending the true property customers? Who’s regulating the sector? We want solutions if we should carry sanity to the actions within the sector. Housing scheme was to assist civil servants personal a house of their alternative, however it’s prefer it was not correctly deliberate to realize that goal. No land, no funding and few fraudulent characters used it to dupe some harmless subscribers.”

Additionally, the President, Actual Property Builders Affiliation of Nigeria, Aliyu Wammako, posited that transparency in the true property sector can solely be by means of adherence to a longtime code of conduct.

“What we are attempting to do is to stick to a code of conduct, birthing transparency in the true property sector.” He provides that the federal government should mandatorily guarantee each developer has a seal along with his or her firm title written on it for straightforward identification.

Contemplating using social media by scammers, Eniola believes that strict regulation of those areas would cease the practices.

He stated, “We’ve got to control our social media area too. We want a stable basis, and that’s to create a regulatory physique to make a legislation such that even earlier than you may promote on social media, you should get approval. If we don’t have this, then scammers will proceed to have a area day.”


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