Victor Gbonegun | The Guardian Newspaper | 08-08-2017 Written by Victor Gbonegun
To eliminate quackery and restore Estate Agency Practice to its glorious days, practitioners have been urged to make sound character and integrity their watchword.
The Registrar, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON), Ifeanyi Uzonwanne gave the charge at a seminar titled "Raising the Bar in Estate Agency Practice" organized by the Faculty of Estate Agency and Auctioneering, Nigerian Institution of Estates Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), in Lagos.
According to him, the law setting up ESVARBON has encapsulated in the fundamental principles of the code of conduct and empowered the profession to have an investigative panel and disciplinary tribunal. The tribunal is expected to handle any established prima facie case made by clients against any member of the profession.
He said it is the responsibility of ESVARBON to refer such matter to the disciplinary tribunal, which is a court of competent jurisdiction as the Supreme Court could only appeal its decisions.
"Many of us do not know, we surrender the responsibility of maintaining discipline to the institution, not knowing that for practice and ensuring discipline, it is the duty of ESVARBON. Petitions come to us, EFCC write to us on property sales you want to attain because they want to verify, submissions are even sent from us to EFCC and ICPC."
"They believe that real estate is a veritable channel for money laundering and so they are writing letters to us to find out whether those involved in illegal transactions are members of NIESV. Even recently they wrote to us to let us know the cases we have and to let us know how far it has gone", he stated.
On activities of quacks in the profession, he said those involved do not fall within ESVARBON'S jurisdiction hence, enforcing discipline on them becomes a herculean tasks.
He disclosed that contrary to insinuations in some quarters, on the alleged illegality of 10 per cent scale of professional fee charge by estate agents, the fees is has provision in the law of the institution.
The Vice president, International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Africa region, Chief Kola Akomolede said that the infiltration of quacks in agency practice has been the greatest problem in the profession as many graduate from other professions as well as the unemployed who are not trained in real estate have hijacked it from original practitioners.
He explained that a way out is for practitioners to observe moral issues and regulations put in place by its regulatory bodies in order to distinguish themselves from the charlatans who have invaded the profession in their huge numbers.
"Estate Agents should demand written letter before appointment to manage a property, don't mis-represent facts through negligence, take proper care of property on behalf of tenants and be fair to all concerned. Don’t under charge and don’t double charge fees from tenants and the landlords and always act according to your principals’ instruction."
Also speaking, the former Chairman of Lagos Branch of NIESV, Samuel Effiom Ukpong, Gbenga Olaniyan stressed the need to embark on advocacy as a formidable instrument in sensitizing the society and improving the fortune of real estate agency practice in the country.
He noted that indigenous practitioners must learn from foreign firms who practice in Nigeria, compete favourably with them by giving their clients right information, provide extra-services for customers, explore opportunities of the Internet and improve on appraisal as well as facilitation processes.
Earlier, the Chairman, NIESV's Faculty of Estate Agency and Auctioneering, Sam Eboigbe said the gathering was designed to look at various extant laws governing estate agency practice in the country, highlight the pitfalls and sharp practices accounting for unfavourable public perception.
He commended past chairman, Chudi Ubosi, members and elders of the profession for their robust contributions in fashioning out ways to improve the profession.