Dealing with Ikoyi landlords is a nightmare for many developers seeking JV opportunities as well as for agents looking to close juicy deals. It is in no way an easy terrain for start-up developers or agents and not quite a walk in the park even for well-established property gurus. There are Real Estate developers who have coveted the area for decades and are yet to make any meaningful inroads there. Property developers, facilitators, and agents who start their careers around the Victoria Island and Ikoyi axis of Lagos might have a very negative perception of happenings in the entire industry at large. Ikoyi prides itself on being the most affluent neighbourhood in Lagos and its closest neighbour, Victoria Island is the main business and financial centre of the state. Both areas have the most pricey land value at an average of $1,000 per square metre. Owners of properties in these axes share a common larger-than-life cultural sentiment towards closing JV deals and even sales.
But why do they behave this way? There is no smoke without fire -they truly own and deserve the bragging rights. These towns have a long history of being largely peaceful, serene and well-groomed, having well-organized neighbourhoods that attract a lot of very important people as well create an ambience of safety for foreigners. The network of roads is fantastic and the green areas are kept green. Generally, the area is in a class of its own and not exactly for every Tom, Dick and Harry. The fact that it has become a forte to high-net-worth individuals makes it the pride of the city. It is usually thought that any wealthy Nigerian without at least one property within that axis doesn’t belong in the high class and even the very coveted Lekki Peninsula is still viewed as a downgrade. Celebrities strive to own a piece of Ikoyi/VI. The axis houses the headquarters of several companies and their owners and is a delight to many visitors and residents. Major Urban development like the Eko Atlantic City and Banana Island is more than just a spectacle.
The Right Strategy
You may have a great proposal and even a deep pocket, but you still need the right strategy to get on board the Ikoyi/VI ship. The landlords don’t seem to be in a hurry to let go of their properties or even strike a JV deal. But even with this attitude of reluctance, they also get overwhelmed by the issues of life at one point or the other and go into panic mode – financing medical treatments, court cases, other projects, etc can take a toll on them. There is no holding on to anything forever, maybe. One approach may be to look out for a panic/distress sale in the market and jump at it as quickly as possible. Another approach may be to search for property auctions involving some of these properties that have been forfeited to or seized by the government and then pitch your offer. Some persons have been very lucky to acquire juicy properties in the axis at ridiculously ‘low’ prices. You may also simply look off the bourdilon and choose your path in Snake Island overlooking Tincan Island Port and Apapa or pitch your tent somewhere in the Lekki.
Approaching the Islanders
The go-hard or go-broke mentality seldom works on Ikoyi/VI landlords. You press too hard and they simply walk away and throw your deal at your face. While hunting for JV properties in these territories, never walk alone. As a developer, go with your team consisting of a Valuer, QS, or Negotiator (if you are not one), an engineer, an architect, and a lawyer, and go prepared – they would ask a lot of vital questions that might require various technical perspectives and you don’t want to get lost in the process.
Chances are that you might not meet the landlord in person until the closing stages, you might be dealing with their lead or contact person, usually an estate surveyor or a lawyer so you need a lot of patience, perseverance, and discipline.
As a developer or agent avoid long-chain deals, from experience, only a few end well.
Don’t miss appointment dates and times as you might be taken for granted -as a time waster or an unserious folk. Don’t be too quick to choose the location for the meetings, let them make their preferred choice so that the ethical burden of complying with attendance is heavily on them.
Be calm during conversations with them. Don’t come with the I-take-it-all mentality, don’t be smarter than yourself. Apply assertive communication techniques and clearly outline your plans as well as the benefits -in the end, they are very keen on what they stand to gain versus what you stand to gain.
With the recent spate of building collapse in the area, you should approach them with a water-tight proposal showing the competence of the consultants and contractors to be involved in the project. There is a preference for foreign contractors or local contractors with decent track records of completing similar projects in the area for obvious reasons. Give them development or design options and explain the cost and benefits of each option. Present only practicable concepts – avoid building castles in the air until you fully understand the technology behind the construction of completely suspended buildings, woah! Now that you know how crazy the process might be, go for it, and don’t forget to share your success story with me.