Many property developers didn’t found business funny in 2020. This is because of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on business generally. Interestingly, whilst many property developers complained bitterly of low sales in the outgone year, one real estate company did remarkably well. And the company is Landmark.
In this interview, Dr. Harrison Agboifoh who recently turned 40, revealed how COVID-19 pandemic helped the performance of his company.
What was the attraction that real estate had for you when you went into it years ago?
I left the banking industry in 2011. Looking back, I always tell people that I never went into real estate by mistake. It was never by mistake. It wasn’t about making money that made me go into real estate.
It dates back to my growing up years. Whilst growing up there was this passion I had for buildings, all these luxury buildings. While growing up, I remembered the effect Ogudu GRA had on me. We resided within that area. While growing up Ogudu GRA was a mere bush. I use to walk round Ogudu GRA. I can tell you how it looks. It was in my presence that all those estates were formed. I remember how the Raji Rasaki Estate was formed. The only place we used to go then was the Jemibewon playground, where we used to go and play. I remember how the place began to develop and houses began to spread. Whilst growing up then, I used to watch how houses are being built. I love luxury houses. It has been in me that when I grow up this is what I have to do, I have to build some thing like this. Whilst in school, I tried my hands in Technical Drawing. I remember how my Teacher sent me away from Technical Drawing Class. I was not good in Drawing. I tried many times to improve myself in drawing. But I was never good in drawing. I just told myself that, this does not mean you cannot become what you want to become in life. So, I actually opted for Accounting. I decided that I will be a very good administrator. Let me know I can do the Funds Management, the Money Management. By being good in good management you could run any business you want to do. That is where the bedrock lies. That is where the foundation of everything lies. That was actually what made go into Accounting. I know where I was going to. I used to tell people that I never went to Real Estate by accident or mistake. It was something that has actually been in me right from when I was a young child, when I was a 30 years old when I used to walk around OGUDU GRA in Lagos, when I used to walk around as a small boy in Ogudu GRA. I remembered those past days and I said this is what I want to do.
I want to build houses. I want to build mansions. I want to do mass housing. That was what actually brought about my internet in real estate. People who see me in real estate and how successful Landmark has become will say, haaa! How did he succeed in real estate. How did he get the funds from? That is part of the questions people often ask me. I used to provide answers to this questions on the mentoring platform I have. It is made up of people that just graduated from University.
I used to tell people that I mentor these days that whatsoever you find yourself doing, do it very well so much so that those around will notice you and host of heaven will attest to it that there was a sweeper or swept very well.
I worked in the bank. I also worked with a Logistics Company. They do procurements. They do clearing. I wanted to work in their Logistics Department. I went to meet them and I told them, I studied Accounting. I graduated with this and that. They said we are so sorry, we don’t have space in the Accounting Department, we only have in the operations department. What do you think you can do for us. I now said let me give it a trial. I gave it a trial. That is how I learnt freight forwarding, Logistics, Procurement, Door To Door Delivery. When I left the banking industry, I went into that I had 14 big customers. I was always doing procurements for them. I was always doing door-to-door marketing for them. I still do business for them. That was where I got my initially capital and funds that launched me into what I want to become in life.
When I look back to where I am coming from, I am always very grateful to God. I remeber when I wanted to start working, I had a 10 year plan for myself. I want to give it to the G factor. God helped me. Thank God, I achieved everything within that space of time. I always work with plans.
One thing I will like to encourage people is that they should have a definite plan laid out. He who fails to plan, plans to fail.
Another thing I will like to advice people is that they should have their right attitude. A lot of people have the whole vision, they have all the stuff they can actually put to use to make a success of their lives, but they do put it to good use. If you have the right attitude, the altitude is yours.
Attitude and Altitude go hand in hand, together. Honestly is key. But these days, a lot of youth, will tell you these days the patient dog no longer eats the fattest bones. That is not true.
I want to correct that wrong notion. The patient dog still eats the fattest bone. Its just a matter of time, we would all get there.
You don’t need to cut corners. If you cut corners to get to the top, you will still get back to it.
Another thing is integrity. It is key. We should always live every day as if it’s our last days.
Let’s talk about 2020. What did the Real Estate industry go through in 2020? How did Landmark survive the pandemic? What were the strategies adopted?
Hmmm! 2020 was an interesting year. We had great plans. When the pandemic started. We went back to the drawing board to review our plans for 2020 because we actually looked at it and said Wow! This pandemic will probably affect a lot of companies, a lot of companies will close down. But looking back it was not a bad year for us. We had to sit down to think and we had to benchmark most of our products to Nigerians in diaspora & it worked out, especially when the dollar rate began to rise. And that led to growth in the Real Estate industry. A lot of money came in from Nigeria diaspora that was in 2019. A lot came in also in 2020. The money that came in 2020 doubled that of 2019. Reason? A lot of people in the Diaspora want to own a house, and they wanted to do real estate investment. Real estate investment is good in Nigeria. I keep tell ing people to do real estate investment because the value of real estate in Nigeria keeps rising and it never comes down unlike other countries like Canada and America.
So, during this last year the pandemic brought about one of our best years in the real estate industry. The pandemic was a blessing in disguise. It was a year tht we had to restrategise our strategy. At the end of the day it worked very perfectly for us. We had to look at, how do we want to benefit from this pandemic? How do we want the people in the Diaspora? How do we want to get across to them? Like I always say to people. The world is a global village. The world has turned global. We reached out to many of them using all the available means. There was going VIRTUAL, we had to come up with different initiatives and at the end of the day it worked perfectly well for us and the real estate sector. So, I can say 2020 was a good year for us.
Do most of your estates cater to the luxury, middle in come or high end?
We have the middle class. We have the Lower class. We do few of the luxury/High Income estates. Basically, I will tell you the middle class. We are talking of getting a 2 bedroom terrace for like N27 million. The Middle Class should be able to afford that. Its not that expensive. It is when you convert it to dollar or Pounds that you will know. We have for the Low Income earners also. We have like 2 bedroom going for N8 million. We cut across. We have estates tht cut across.
Which are your estates?
We have over 20 something estates. We have in Ibeju Lekki, we have Beach front. I and 2. Beachfront 3 is coming. We have Meridian Parks & Garden. We have the Smart homes. Abijo GRA in Lekki is one of them. It is an Estate. It is a Luxury and Smart Home, but affordable. Our message to people is that calling an estate a luxury does not mean that you have to break the bank to get it. We had to do this to let people know that when you hear Luxury it doesn’t have to be Banana Island or Ikoyi. You can actually get luxury at ABIJO GRA. We call it smart home in the sense that it works with automation. We are coming up with these smart homes. That is what we do right now at ABIJO GRA. Everything is fully automated at The AVOCADO Terrace at Abijo GRA. We have Meridian Boulevard estate at Abraham Adesanya axis. Its for the Middle Class. We are selling 500 square metre for N21 million. We have 300 square metres for N12.5 million. We have The Isheri North GRA where we are selling Terraces & Houses for N32 million to N65 million, different houses, different designs, different grade of houses. We have in Mowe, we have in Simawa. We have in Abuja. More are coming up in 2021.