Privateproperty.com.ng redefines Nigeria’s real estate business with online portal
In this interaction with ABUBAKAR MOSHOOD and ANTHONY NWOSU of IT Edge News, OLUWAFEMI TAIWO and OLUWAFEMI BADMUS, founders of www.privateproperty.com.ng, speak on the huge role the Internet plays in real estate business and why www.privateproperty.com.ng is the number one market place for properties in Nigeria.
www.privateproperty.com.ng, how does it work and what kind of services do you render?
We are a property marketplace and we provide detailed property information to make buying and renting of properties easy. Our aim is to connect property buyers and prospective tenants to properties available for rent or sale.
What is the role of the Internet in driving the real estate sector in Nigeria?
Let’s start with the traditional mediums of advertising real estate in Nigeria, which are words of mouth, newspaper advertising, road-side display boards and others. What we have found out is that the gap in terms of the effectiveness of the above mentioned media when compared to that of the Internet, in terms of reach and value added to the advertiser and consumer is huge. It makes more sense to advertise on the Internet, which has a wider reach. There is a limited amount of information that can be advertised via the traditional means as opposed to the Internet where you have the chance to display a limitless amount of information. The role of the Internet as it has affected real estate in Nigeria is largely in the ease of access to property information.
More Nigerians are getting used to transacting online but some experts believe there are no laws guiding online businesses in Nigeria, how will you react to this?
We are an advertising platform. We are merely providing a platform for people to meet. We are like Facebook, a means to an end. Our operations are somewhat similar to that of an e-commerce website but we are more like a marketplace. We are trying to ease the pains of people who are currently subjected to the present rigorous processes to initiate property transactions with our world class website. We have a very unique website; we foresee a future where PrivateProperty.com will be synonymous with provision of property information as Google is synonymous with the provision of general information in the internet space.
How do you check issues of fraud associated with online transactions?
At www.privateproperty.com.ng we verify the legitimacy of our clients and their property listings. We also advise our website users to do a second level of verification of information on our site before acting.You cannot get information from the Internet and part away with cash without verification.
What are the challenges you are facing as a young online entrepreneur in Nigeria?
In the last two years Internet penetration has seen tremendous growth. We started our website when the Internet penetration was just picking up. The trust Nigerians had in online businesses and transactions was fairly low but now with the advent of other e-commerce websites like Jumia.com and Konga.com, there has been a boost in the confidence of Nigerians in Nigerian Internet businesses. For now, it is fair to say we are still in the educational stage, where we are trying to convince people to transact online. In the early stages, the challenges were to convince both real estate agents and property owners as to advertise online as opposed to advertising in the traditional medium of advertising.
Most of the Internet businesses today receive funding from investors abroad, don’t we have local investors that can invest on young online entrepreneurs?
The major sectors contributing to the Nigerian GDP today are telecommunications, oil and gas and banking sector. If you are talking about banking, most of the banks are backed by foreign investors. If you look at telecommunication, you have just one local player which is Globacom. Look at the oil and gas industry, most of the companies drilling our oil are foreign companies. So it is no surprise foreign investors back Internet businesses in Nigeria as well. The problem with Nigeria is that we wait for our foreign counterparts to take initiative before we act. Young entrepreneurs do not have access to funding due to lack of equity financing, high interest rates from bank loans and no collateral to back these loans. But you find out that foreign investors are only interested in your knowledge of the market, have a working business model and have what it takes to succeed for them to invest in your ideas. That is something that rarely happens with local investors.
I believe the fundamental problem we have in this country is the lack of trust. We do not trust in the ability of our fellow countrymen. If you look at developed countries, investors invest large sums of money in “crazy” business ideas as long as they have a conviction on the bankability and success chances of the businesses. I believe it starts with trusting in the abilities of young Nigerians.
What is the role of the government in driving Internet businesses in Nigeria?
They should not be financing majorly. I believe they should concentrate on making policies, creating an enabling environment and a level playing ground for businesses to thrive. If the government provides power for instance, we would not be spending money on alternative means of power supply. The government should provide infrastructures and make regulations that will aid the availability of fast and cheap broadband Internet, for instance. We can have faster internet in Nigeria, I see no reason we should not have faster internet in Nigeria. The government should invest in infrastructure. We should be moving at the same pace with developed countries.
What is the future of privateproperty.com.ng?
We hope to continue to come up with innovative products that will make finding a property easy for Nigerians. There is no reason why finding a property cannot happen in less than a minute. Our vision is to change the real estate business in Nigeria. At the moment we are in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Ogun State. We have offices in three regions. We are getting there, we are less than two years old but I believe we have done a great job in the real estate market and this just the starting point. In the next four years we would have penetrated all the states in Nigeria.