By: J. ‘Dare Okafor
One of the most underestimated professions in Nigeria is being a house agent. Majority of you think all we do is just to rent a small shop close to the road, get a small rectangular blackboard, with a few chalk sticks, and touches of a small fine handwriting to scribble down imaginary houses. Come off it jare! You guys don’t rate us at all, which is quite unfortunate. I mean, it requires a whole lot to be a house agent. In fact, the skill set is out of this world.
For the sake of humanity, and for the defence of this noble profession, I will give you just six simple codes that suggest how demanding it is to be one of us:
CODE 1: YOU MUST BE A LIAR
Yes ke! If you know you want to be this holy holy kind of person, don’t even think of being a part of us. How do you think we feed daily if we don’t lie to clients on the availability of good houses, even when there’s none? You got to jazz up, my man! If there are no houses, you have to sweet talk them into believing there are. In fact, tell them you got the exact speck of house(s) that they need. In this kind of situation, you must never eat alone, if not, you will die alone. Call one or two colleagues, tell them you are bringing a client for them (having in mind your cut), and be humble enough to become the secondary agent. That way, everybody wins!
CODE 2: YOU MUST BE PERSUASIVE
Ha! You want to be a house agent and you don’t have a sweet mouth? O.Y.O. is your case. You can never prosper in this noble profession if your tongue isn’t sweet. No naw, it’s not a curse, it is what it is, bro. For you to be a houseogelist, just like the Evangelist Paul in the scriptures. You must be able to convince your clients on why they must pay an inspection fee before you take them to a house – whether they would like it or not. If the rooms of the house are small, magnify them with your mouth. Tell them the rooms will get bigger as they live in it. If the toilets or bathroom is like a cubicle, tell them that’s the trend and, if it was any bigger, they might mistake it for a room. Sweet talk them into believing that the house rent is the cheapest they will ever get, even when it’s on the exorbitant side. This should be the best weapon in your arsenal; without it, you will be back from the battlefield, defeated.
CODE 3: YOU MUST KNOW HOW TO TREK
You can’t have an aspiration to be a part us, if the soles of your feet are not ready to walk the breadth and length of the earth. After showing your client a particular property and they are not satisfied with it, always tell them about more that are close by that they would definitely love – even when they are three kilometres away. And how do you get there? By trekking! Even when your client has a car, tell them it’s not needed, because you already know all the shortcuts that will get you to the place faster. In fact, you don’t need to have a personal car as a house agent because you will never discover new houses (which is your primary function) by riding in your car; you do that by trekking! Medals are won in this profession by how soiled and dusty your feet are. The soles of your feet are your car; you maintain it by trekking more. You must never forget that!
CODE 4: YOU MUST WORHIP ALL LANDLORDS IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Landlords are the gate pass you have to every house you take your clients to for inspection. Even when they do not need agents for their houses, you have to give them all the reasons why they need someone to serve as a middleman, if not, no food for you. See, without landlords, your tag as a house agent is as useless as a gun without a trigger. So, you must always be friendly to landlords as a potential house agent: always shine your teeth, smiling whenever you’re in their presence, always prostrate before them when greeting to show yourself as an agent with character, and learn to use appraising words like “Mummy wa, don’t forget me oh,” “Daddy Daddy! Has that your stubborn tenant moved out?” Remember, you are a house agent because of them. Without their houses, you are just an agent of shield. So, worship them!
CODE 5: GREED IS A MUST!
If a landlord tells you his house rent is N50,000 make sure you add 20% of that amount as your agent fee. When they tell you it’s too much, divide it and tell them a part of the 20% is for community fee. If you find yourself in the season where the demand for houses is very high, make sure you add 10% to the 20%, and when you’re asked, concoct ridiculous fees to cover it up. After all, once the demand is higher than the supply, the prices of goods have to go up. Don’t forget to sympathetically tell them that with all the money you’re collecting from them, only 5% is yours. Since you don’t work on a salary basis, this is the best avenue to make your money in this business. These codes I’m giving you don’t come cheap, but I wouldn’t charge you because I don’t want to be greedy.
CODE 6: YOU MUST LEARN HOW TO USE STYSLISHLY TECHNICAL WORDS LIKE:
Agreement and Commission; To Let; Total Package; Quarterly Payment; Security Bill; Nepa Bill; Caution Bill; Breathing Fee; Shitting Fee; Burglary Protection Fee; Inspection Fee; and Roofing Withholding Fee.
With these codes listed above, I hope I have been able to convert you into believing how noble this our profession is. Sincerely, I hope that you will consider being an agent; you can start where you are by getting a stick of chalk and a small blackboard.
J. ‘Dare Okafor writes from Ibadan, Nigeria. He is an enthusiast of African fictional and poetic works. He tweets @DareyOkafor.