Could you tell us about your company?
The company is privateproperty .com.ng. We’re Nigeria’s largest real estate website. We make it possible for people to visit our website to look for properties to sell or rent. Now these properties are being advertised by various registered real estate practitioners in Nigeria.
How long have you been in this business?
We have been in this business in the last three years ,although we have been in the field for seven years.
What has been your experience in the business?
Well everything comes with challenges but we saw an opportunity. That’s why we ventured into the business. We’re growing by triple-digits every year. With the challenges though, we still see enormous growth.
What prompted you into the business?
I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I always wanted to give value and have freedom to create things by myself. I had in my mind that I would never seek employment. When I came out fresh from school, I wanted to create employment. I started the company based on a need.
At some point my family wanted to buy a house but we couldn’t find information getting the house. For instance, few places we got information like in newspapers, what were contained therein were outdated. Estate marketers took us to places that do not fit what we wanted. They took us to places that were not decent.
So I thought in my mind — why wouldn’t I create a website whereby people can log in, view videos and pictures and get information about neighborhoods with a view to easing people of stress in getting houses. With five or six searches, you can contact estate agents and make decisions on the property.
Who are your clients?
We work with real estate agents. Most of our clients are members of the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyor and Valuers. We also work with other estate practitioners in Nigeria.
How do you source for customers?
Our website is open to people to use but we moderate it. We don’t just allow everybody to post property because of the issue of fraud. We have Know Your Customers system.
We have over 40 employees who on daily basis go meet these practitioners one on one. We have face-to-face relationship with these estate practitioners who post properties on our website. That is how we know who we’re dealing with. We don’t allow any junk or fraudulent property.
How profitable is this business?
Well, we’re getting to breakeven point. It’s a business with a long term goal. We’re not worried about short term profit. In the Western part of the world, in Australia, real estate property has a market capitalization of $5.5bilion; the United Kingdom, $2.5bilion; and over $5bilion in America. We know the real estate is very profitable with proven business model in other parts of the world.
What is your staff strength?
We have over 40 staff. We have offices in Lagos and Abuja.
Do you plan to expand?
Yes. We’re about to launch the business in other parts of the country in a couple of months.
Where do you see this business in the next 10 years?
Our vision is to create a digital market place for Nigeria in terms of real estate. In the next 10 years, we want to spread the business within and outside Nigeria.
What are the challenges of this business?
One of the challenges of this business is educating estate practitioners to give us the properties they have. Our business is determined by the estate agents and we have to make sure that they’re educated on the benefits of online advertising. Many of them are still using traditional advertising and are reluctant in putting their adverts online because they believe internet is fraud. We’ve been educating them on the benefits of this online advert and we’re glad the development is paying off.
Another challenge of the business is the slow connectivity of internet in Nigeria. We spend a lot of time on our website waiting for the pages to load. We believe with the new resolve of the Nigerian Communications Commission to put connectivity in shape, things will improve and our business will grow better.
What is the degree of acceptability of online property in Nigeria?
I have been in this business for seven years. In those early years, the internet was slow and not many Nigerians were on the internet. Back then, people didn’t trust internet to buy a house but in the past three years, things have changed.
The acceptance has been tremendous for us. Estate practitioners use our website. Many Nigerians in the Diaspora visit our site daily to contact estate practitioners who advertise on our website.
We get testimonials from our customers telling us that they get calls and contact from overseas concerning properties. Expatriates use our website to look for comfortable accommodation.