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Construction Professionals as leaders, working with government, businesses and the society to manage the challenges of covid-19

Paper presented on 16/6/2020 at a CED webinar, 

The fear of death, based on covid-19 impact on human biology resulting in the destruction of capacity and lifestyle, has been successfully exploited by governments, with its sustained media coverage. Society needs to rebuild  and rebuild it must, else it will die a slower death. To rebuild, the activities and participation of builders comes into focus. In all human endeavors demand precedes supply, so this paper is premised on examining the demand projections first, possible mitigating and long term strategies in managing the effects of environmental and biological disasters.

EFFECT: pandemics unlike environmental disasters impacts, human, lifestyle, demography, and consumption patterns of the people. This reflects on real estate use demand, which in turn influences engineering and design parameters.

Change of Use/Demand: covid-19 will most likely result in change in uses and increase/fall in demand for all real estate sectors, 

  • Office/Retail sectors: leases/rentals make up a large % of user demand, and has seen the highest negative impact from covid-19. the worst affected being rental default for office/retail spaces. A prolonged default may lead to property voids, impacting loan repayments and negatively impact the bottom lines of the financial system. The aforesaid has reinforced the assumption that these types of real estate market may slowly die off as more businesses go online.This projection, may apply to the creative industry, and marketing office functions, that deal in information flows with little or no physical contact. Back office functions, jobs that handle physical goods, those that require mentoring, compliance monitoring, culture exchange, indices that determine a companys’ competitive advantage can not be done online/remotely. Demand may fall in the short term, but innovative methods for dealing with and improved cures for the virus, coupled with the need for social well being provided in work places, may result in a quicker resurgence of demand for offices/retail spaces. Workplaces provide avenues for social interaction, necessary for work life balance, This and the fact that financial instability from default, may be major drivers for a short period of fall in demand. Realtors can do well to wait out the period by renegotiating leases, explore shared space use,grant rent rebates and % reduction while applying the rent deposits to offset shortfalls.  To cushion the current and near future fall in revenue, due to income losses, financing loans should also be renegotiated as they lobby governments for palliatives and property tax exemption.
  • Residential sector: This sector will most probably benefit from the covid-19 imposed lockdown. Shelter is a necessity after food, and provided for in that order. The trend for working from home, no matter how short the duration, will translate to a secure residential market. The inability of tenement home dwellers in high density neighborhoods to comply with social distancing and other covid-19 protocols presents opportunity for development of large scale affordable residential housing, and new frontiers in design, material and construction for the built industry. Practitioners will benefit, not only in new structures, but in upgrading homes to meet the demands of social distancing and work from home.
  • Industrial/Places of Worship: How and where people worship has effectively changed, with worship carried on remotely. The effect on this type of real estate may see in Nigeria a reversal of the conversion in the 2000s, of industrial complexes into places of worship back to industrial uses, if churches remain empty and investment into production and manufacture of health care accessories continues.

For now, data from interviews validate rental defaults and demand fall for office/retail rentals. Only one new rental was recorded in three 3 months in Ikeja and environ, this is expected, given that the lockdown is still active. The above projections remain to be validated by time.

Construction Companies Roles: practitioners in the built industry by virtue of their function, are leaders in infrastructure development necessary for economic growth. Construction companies are in the front line with medics and firemen, in mitigation efforts during disasters. They provide personnel and equipment to evacuate, extricate, erect temporary structures and in rebuilding. These services are required through planning to resettlement stages. The lock down period is an opportunity for construction companies, to engage in research activities on material, processes, innovative technologies, with focus on skill upgrade and capacity building for effective and efficient disaster response. Erecting temporary health facilities for pandemics and shelters for environmental disasters are examples where quick response is required. To meet this responsibility, there is a need to develop a synergy with all actors in the built industry through participatory interventions, corporations in the long and short terms, interface with:

  1. Professional Bodies: to collate and collect data for research into material, skill upgrade and capacity building. Produce guidelines for accreditation of companies with capacity in equipment and material provision.
  2. Staff/Firm relationship: provision of innovative health protocols for staff use, sanitizers, food sheds, toiletries, waste disposal, cleaning technology, masks, improved staff shifts scheduling.
  3. Clients: all ongoing projects are negatively impacted, from delays, cost/time overruns, staffing to financing and mandated regulatory costs as in 2 above. To address these, all subsisting contracts need to be analysed to reappraise the contractual and legal obligations, including supply chains, to meet possible obligations, negotiate some form of relief in schedules and delivery time. 
  4. Corporate Entities: team up with oil, manufacturing, technological organizations to sponsor research in material and develop cutting-edge technologies that can provide safety protocols for service delivery. 
  5. Health Care Providers: obtain imputes for joint research into new design/redesign methods for health care facilities, modular and mobile.
  6. Finance Institutions: can provide low interest equipment acquisition and construction facilities in the long term and for the short term, an interest free project completion funding, or renegotiated interest payment on existing facility.
  7. Governments: needs to in the short term provide some form of palliatives like tax exemptions/holidays to mitigate the effects of their imposed restrictions.  A long term mutual beneficial synergy will rest in a jointly developed regulatory guidelines for compliance certification, maintain a database for firms with competence and capacity for quick response in each of the 774 local government areas. Introduce infectious disease rating code. Lobby for new laws, to empower the sector in terms of legal obligations for future occurrences.

In all tremendous opportunities exists for a post covid-19 real estate construction industry. Practitioners must take advantage, by proactively identifying, areas of increased demand as reflected in the property market, improve technical and personnel capacity and must upgrade skills and equipment.

Paper presented on 16/6/2020 at a CED webinar,  The fear of death, based on covid-19 impact on human biology resulting in the destruction of capacity and lifestyle, has been successfully exploited by governments, with its sustained media coverage. Society needs to rebuild  and rebuild it must, else it will die a slower death. To rebuild, […]

Just Compensation in Compulsory Acquisition of Land: the Nigerian experience viewed from the prism of FAO Guidelines

Photo of Onitsha end during construction of the Second Niger Bridge. Credit: Julius Berger

Overview of the governing law
Compulsory Acquisition is a legal process, that empowers governments take over of private property or land for public use, paying adequate compensation for same. In Nigeria, the 1978 Land Use Act as embedded in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the operating instrument that guides this process. The Act has variously been criticized for coming short of international best practices in protecting and promoting the interest of land owners in the acquisition process.

Compensation methods and processes – our focus – is covered by section 29. 4.(1) a, b, c of the Act. This section confers powers to determine values, on the “appropriate officer”. Sec.30 empowers the government’s appointed Land Use Committee to arbitrate on compensation, worse, is the exclusion of the courts from entertaining any matter on the inadequacy of the compensation. The governor has the powers to resettle an owner, and in the process turn him into a government debtor, incase of a difference in “assumed” values. The provisions leaves the governments in the proverbial position of “holding the yam and the knife”

The provisions clearly fall short of the requirements of fairness, equity and equivalence, as enunciated in (FAOLTS 10) Food and Agriculture Organization, land studies on Compulsory Acquisition of Land and Compensation, guidance note 10.

The FAOLTS 10
The guide seeks to recommend the adoption of laws and practices, that guarantees land security for land owners, while allowing governments access to land without undue interference in its capacity to access land for economic growth. It further seeks to balance the interests of both parties and hinges its thrust on the principle of “equity and equivalence”. Principles that should be reflected in the governing laws. Laws that provides for a transparent process, that guarantees the payment of an adequate, just and fair market value based compensation. A compensation that covers all consequent “human cost” occasioned by the “disruptive” nature of compulsory acquisition.

Guiding Principles
Principle of equity and equivalence can be interpreted to mean that the owner of acquired land should be left in his pre-acquisition financial position. He is not to bear sole responsibility for the benefit of all. A compensation payment based on these principles is seen as just, not discretionary but participatory and unbiased. It can be interrogated or litigated and must apply the appropriate methods and persons for value assessment. It must be premised on the principle of fairness. It creates a situation that balances the parties’ interests and ensures the dispossessed are neither disadvantaged nor find themselves in a worse position. In this post, we will examine just a few reasons that have made compulsory acquisition compensation in our climes contentious.

Causes of unjust Compensation

  1. Bad laws make room for sharp practices and abuse. An example of discretionary abuse encouraged by the LUA, is the case of the acquisition of Nigeria Airways Land situated opposite Grange School GRA Ikeja. In the late 1980s, the Lagos state government compulsorily acquired the land ostensibly for ‘Overriding Public Interest’ – Ikeja Stadium. The government soon after the publicized acquisition found the place unsuitable and without returning the land nor paying Nigeria Airways promptly laid it out into residential plots and allocated same to private individuals. Best of all the area currently bears the governor’s name Otedola Estate.
  2. The process. While 2.21 of the FAOLTS recommends a participatory process that runs through the various stages from, planning, publicity, valuation, payment, possession, appeals and restitution, the LUA has no provision for such participatory imputes. For example, the impact assessment and prepayment meetings organised by some acquiring bodies are more informative than participatory as envisioned by international best practice. A participatory engagement would not only serve a notice appropriately by specifying the purpose of acquisition, but would specify the duration and further encourage/request owners to submit their claims. This type of engagement not only signals early warnings of possible challenges but would provide a bird’s eye view of possible total cost for compensation. The LUA, the enabling law, is lacking in this respect, thereby creating room for long, drawn out completion and payment periods. Some acquisitions in our experience have been known to last ten years and seem unending. In such a situation any payment made years after the date of valuation, when the owners’ rights are extinguished, is unjust and inadequate and cannot be deemed equivalent or equitable.
  3. Incorrect valuation methods: for any compulsory acquisition to be considered legal, it must be shown to meet two requirements: one of “overriding public purpose” and the other of payment of “adequate compensation”. A failure in any of the two, should invalidate the acquisition. Does the provisions of the LUA meet the criteria? The answer is NO. As shown in the Nigeria Airways example and valuations rates below, our experience indicates that while people rarely contest the purpose, the unjust compensation paid as derived from the valuation method specified in the LUA creates a lot of challenges for the project/purpose of the acquisition. The method prescribed for estimating values and the ambiguous “appropriate officer” authorised to carry out the valuations is neither objective nor transparent.
    • For one, rent is not value. The provision in section 29.2 for the payment of the equivalent of annual rent on the land lease is erroneous.
    • Two, Depreciated Replacement Cost prescribed for the valuation of improvements is not the appropriate valuation method for establishing a fair value. A value that is representative of the losses occasioned by the acquisition is the market Value/Income approach which takes land value into consideration. Costs for other losses that will adequately reflect an equitable and a fair value for the acquisition should be added to the derived value of the improvement. A compulsory acquisition is fundamentally a forced or compelled sale for the owner, who had acquired the rights to enable him enjoy a long term use of his development. This person must be adequately compensated through an objective, transparent and globally accepted method. A method that compensates for loss of livelihood, investments, and future income flows. It is punitive and contrary to the social contract for the government to do otherwise. Worse is the exclusion of adequate remedies by the enabling act, for owners to obtain redress for compensation, that failed to take into account the unplanned/disruptive costs. Losses arising from partial takings, disturbance, goodwill, costs of relocation/rebuilding, cost of new land, (a government lease attracts charges and rents professional fees for surveyors/architects and emotional distress are not provided for. A dispossessed land owner, who moves to a completely new distant neighborhood due the unjust payment received, incurs increased commuting costs to work etc. and may never ever be able to enjoy the socio economic benefits of which his land was taken.
    • Three, it is baffling that the Act lists agriculture as “overriding public purpose” yet the act in sec 29.4.1c makes an ambiguous provision for compensation for agricultural product crops. Why the drafters of the law, would make an ambiguous provision for an item that is the source of living for a large percentage of the population, is questionable. Could it, be due to the drafters attempt to help governments reduce project cost? If this be the case, then it is a misplaced concern, for it’s been proven that the reverse is the case. The rural areas may have few high cost dwelling homes and improvement, but every inch of land is privately/communally owned, used for some form of income producing farming activity. The ambiguity and discretionary provisions in the enabling law empowered the use of different and unscientific derived rates for crops and economic trees. The average values applied as compensation across the nation including the federal government range between 50-100 Naira per cassava stalk, 100-200 Naira per yam stand and 1,500 -3,000.Naira for hardwood/economic trees. The discretionary powers are granted to the “appropriate officer”, (who may or may not have the requisite professional competence) to “determine” the value. The above rates, are not supported by current market data, nor any known method for valuing crops and economic trees. Agricultural products should be valued based on its per capita yearly yield. The current applied rates are grossly inadequate, and unjust. It is no surprise then, when the soon to be dispossessed, lacking negotiating power, and for fear of being tagged anti progress, adopt passive-resistant – sometimes combative attitudes, and circumvention as mitigating strategies to protect their interest.
  4. Time Factor: as stated earlier, the Act is not specific on duration or time for completion of an acquisition. This is a major oversight, for values are not static, and crops are seasonal. A long drawn out acquisition and delayed payments only further burden the land owners. The provision for payment of interest at CBN rate for delayed payment, is unrealistic and unattainable given the fact that courts are barred from adjudicating on compensation sum. On what sum then will the interest be paid, the inadequate amount?

Unjust Compensation is Counter-productive.
Major disputes, sharp practices, usually envelop the pre/post acquisition process as a consequence of the effects of causes listed in (A) above. An opaque methodology for acquired assets valuation, negatively impacts the project execution and outcomes. In our practices, we have found that communities (with a high number of life income yielding crops/economic trees, developed structures, and mineral producing areas) relying on the experiences of past acquisitions, would upon the announcement or gazette of acquisition notices, circumvent the process in one of the following ways:

  1. erect make-shift structures on the cropped land area.
  2. sell off the land to non-resident family members.
  3. harvest the crops and rent the land to an itinerant farmer.
  4. increase the number of claimants for community farms/cemeteries/shrines.
  5. engineer ownership claims and double claims, due to poor claimant identification, a consequence of a non-participatory planning process.
  6. owners/renters cultivate new and different crops.
  7. improve an existing development/complete the construction of an unfinished one during the intervening time periods.

With one or more of the above listed activities happening within the acquisition process, it becomes challenging and difficult to take possession of the site. Possession will only be possible after claimants for new crops and developments have been identified and paid. Delays in resolving these issues, will not only increase the cost of the acquisition, but open up a new land market and homes for squatters. Instead of strengthening its internal process, governments have taken actions that are contrary to the principles of social justice and common good, in an attempt to scapegoat communities for “high” land acquisition costs. Costs that are avoidable when the appropriate valuation method, persons and acquisition processes are employed.

What can be done?
It has been established that, the inadequacies in the legislative instrument, the LUA driving the compulsory acquisition and compensation process is the bane of unjust compensation. The law as it is with all its defects has to be obeyed. However, practitioners can explore initiatives that may ease some of the challenges and make the process less acrimonious.

Perhaps the best place to start is to look at areas and or lacunae in the law that can be applied to improve participation, cooperation, and strengthen the process for the mutual benefits of government operators and owners.

One such is to follow the first step recommended by FAO at the planning stage as the law does not prohibit consultations. The acquiring party should actively pursue robust participation by the affected owners/communities, who should be carried along from inception. A sensitization meeting, should precede the issuance of notice to owners. Owners should have the confidence to participate without feeling disadvantaged or fearful of intimidation by security operatives.

Notices should ideally be issued in person where possible as this enables proper identification.

Claimants should be encouraged to engage their own consultant, who will aid them in claim submission and subsequent negotiation with the officers. The fees for such engagement should form part of the claims, and owners should not bear the cost.

The law provides for the method of valuation for land and improvements(rent / depreciated replacement cost) and specifies by extension – the rates for crops, but is silent on how it should be calculated. This lacuna which gives discretionary powers to “appropriate officers” to “determine” rates resulting in differential rates can be employed to get the appropriate officer to adopt a more humane, fair and just method of deriving the rates.

Professional valuation consultants on both sides of the aisle can leverage the fact that the Act does not expressly prohibit payment for attendant human costs, reach some form of agreement, in pre-valuation meetings, that can allow the officer exercising his powers to make allowances for those costs. Such agreement will yield positive results.

The parties would jointly agree on a work plan and timelines for the acquisition process to encourage timely payment of claims.

If such steps are adopted at the early stages, it will greatly improve project outcomes, pending when a full scale amendment of the extant law is made.

Last words
The role of compulsory acquisition in nation building cannot be overemphasized. Land is a key driver of economic security and peace of a nation. Matters pertaining to the provision of such a critical asset is of major interest to the legal and real estate professions. It calls for robust discussion, comments and opinions are welcome imputes to better address a subject with such universal interest.

Further Readings:

Akinsola. John Oluwasegun, Illusory Nature of the Concept of Compensation under the Land Use Act in Nigeria..Journals.oowagoiwoye.edu.ng

FAOLTS Rome 2008 note 10. www.fao.org

Land Use Allocation Decree1978 Section 29. of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

UTCHAY. A. OKORJI. Alternative Rates Approach to valuation of economic crops and trees in Nigeria.2017, oasis.net>pdf

Overview of the governing lawCompulsory Acquisition is a legal process, that empowers governments take over of private property or land for public use, paying adequate compensation for same. In Nigeria, the 1978 Land Use Act as embedded in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the operating instrument that guides this process. […]

A Valuers professional Building Insurance Valuation: Panacea for Underinsurance

Insurance is Mandatory

The Nigerian Insurance Act of 2003, mandates a compulsory insurance cover for vast asset holdings and for all buildings. However, evidence available from our records as a surveying valuation firm, indicates otherwise. Available data shows a very low compliance level, as a negligible number of buildings are insured or adequately covered, by both the public and private sectors of the economy.

Why is this the situation? There are various reasons, adduced by our clients, for the observed low compliance, some of which are a reluctance to engage professional valuers, whose fees they consider an unnecessary additional cost to the insurance premium. This reluctance is based on the public notion that insurance companies fail to meet their obligations on most occasions. It is claimed that the insurance companies delay payment, and most times seek exit clauses. Added to this is the allegation that, where they do pay, the sums are inadequate, and usually never meets the cost of reinstatement/replacement/rebuilding the item/structure.

Lagos market fire of November 5 2019 captured by Sunday Alamba for AP
Lagos market fire of November 5 2019 captured by Sunday Alamba for AP

These views are verified by Daily Independent correspondents Apata Oyediran (+2 others); in their article titled ‘Fire Disasters:Public Apathy to Insurance Benefits’. They found that a high percentage of those interviewed showed apathy towards insurance because “compensations may not be worth the bother as only costs over excess are paid”. The article includes Lagos State Survey findings from a target group of 2000 persons, aged between 18 and 79 years. The respondents indicated that they neither report fire incidents to the fire services nor insurance companies, for the fire service are slow to respond, while the insurance companies delay and make insufficient payments. People therefore resort to self-help by putting out fires themselves.

A Punch Newspaper, March 4, 2020 article titled; ‘Endless Fire Disasters, Frustrating Business Owners, Fueling Unemployment:’ Mr Farinloye NEMA South West coordinator, did state the opinion of the traders which indicates that “..some of them expressed disappointment with insurance companies. They said agents would come to collect money from them but would not remit it to the companies”. This formed the representative opinions of traders with whom he had a one on one with, following NEMA, launch of thier risk management strategy, code named: “Fire Prevention, Mitigation and Integration of Insurance Policy in Market Places launched at Oke-Arin market, on March 4, 2020.

 

Underinsurance

Why do insurers make inadequate compensation for losses? Flowing from above, inadequate payment by insurance companies is attributable to a lot of factors, chief of which is under insurance. In an attempt to maintain the lowest possible premium payable on the insured asset, most insured may choose a wrong plan for the asset type, insure for indemnity instead of replacement, fail to review the insured sum and often accept “averaging” – a marketing strategy by insurance companies, to sell a product.

Leadway Assurance for example, as indicated in its website offers Basic and Silver Householder plans, to cover a building and its content at cover limits of 5 Million and 10 Million respectively. The above stated figures, must have been based on “averaging” for a target market. A niche market, considered able to afford insurance cover. The sum based on available data on building costs and values, falls short of reinstating a house and its content.

Some asset owners may, in compliance with the law, and in consideration of paying low premium, buy such a product. He then runs the risk of, underinsuring. He will invariably lack capacity to rebuild and reinstate himself in the case of a fire disaster.

Would an individual knowingly buy an inadequate policy or deliberately under-insure? As stated earlier, underinsurance can be deliberate, for those who purchase policy just to fulfill the law, especially when such a purchase is viewed from the perspective that insurance is wasted expenditure. Ignorance or refusal to engage building valuation professionals for proper advice before buying a policy can be considered a deliberate error by the public, the consequences of which is underinsurance, a lack of capacity to recoup a loss after a disaster, a situation the insured must take adequate precautions to avoid.

Minimizing underinsurance: with an increase in the number of strategic structures both private and public, that have gone up in flames through fires and bomb blasts within the last 8 weeks, putting in place effective mitigating strategies is the way to go. A situation, where the government is made to offer relief to victims as a result of policies obeyed in breach and or compulsion is neither the ideal nor best practice. It is also inimical to economic growth. It is the responsibility of the insured to provide the accurate value sum for his asset, for which a premium will be paid. Failure to do so will authorize the insurance companies to apply any method, especially market sourced “averaging” as the basis for the policy cover.

Can an Open Market Valuation be useful for insurance? Market value, which includes land values in its estimation is a reflection of transactions within the property market at a given time. Insurance valuation is exclusive of land but is building specific and based on the isolated cost of reinstating a particular building to its pre-destruction condition. The main purpose of insurance is a transfer of risk of loss. To be effective as a risk management tool, the insured value must be accurate. An accurate value will of necessity be arrived at, using the right professionals and methods for such valuations. Insurance values are not meant for open market transactions, but as an asset protection tool that requires the experience and knowledge of the estate surveyor and valuer to arrive at an accurate value that has factored in the peculiarities of the asset type. The value derived gives parties the confidence that a risk is fully covered.

What can be done? As a first step, the public needs to be sensitized on the advantages of having a professionally calculated building insurance valuation for their policies. This can be achieved through, an awareness campaign championed by estate surveyors and valuers in partnership with insurance providers governments. Surveyors as value opinion experts are well positioned to lead this campaign, given their position as professionals versed in and in possession of land services data (from acquisition, management, valuation, asset records) critical information required for effective risk mitigation management. Their role will go a long way in presenting the benefits of their services in the reduction of the incidence of underinsurance, hopefully renewing trust in the insurance system. Such awareness campaigns would focus on the benefits accruable to the functions of such professional engagements.

A valuation certificate besides providing confidence for the insured and insurer, will form a basis for an “Agreed Value” policy. This being a baseline for periodic updates of insured sum, it is useful for loan leveraging, ensures total risk coverage and asset protection, and most importantly ensures availability of adequate funds to rebuild.

Last thoughts. For a vibrant economy driven by confidence and capacity to continue business, or live a meaningful life after a loss, the insurance of buildings, a critical asset in any, commercial, industrial, public or private endeavor, must be fully encouraged. To be meaningful for insurance purpose, the asset values must be based on valuations executed by professional estate surveyors and valuers. To achieve the best result, the Estate surveyors and valuers should lead a coalition of Insurance Companies, Government parastatal and establishments, viz Fire Services, NEMA, in a public awareness campaign. The objective is to encourage the public to see these groups as working together for the benefit of the public.

It is safe to conclude that when the insured purchase a policy without accurate value based on professional impute, they face a double jeopardy from loss of asset and a waste of the premium paid.

 

References

https://www.hni.com/blog/bid/86285/7-reasons-why-insurance-is-important

https://www.rsisinternational.org/journals/ijriss/Digital-Library/volume-3-issue-8/650-657.pdf

https://punchng.com/endless-fire-disasters-frustrating-business-owners-fuelling-unemployment/

https://www.independent.ng/fire-disasters-insurers-lament-public-apathy-to-insurance-benefits/

https://www.leadway.com/householder/

Insurance is Mandatory The Nigerian Insurance Act of 2003, mandates a compulsory insurance cover for vast asset holdings and for all buildings. However, evidence available from our records as a surveying valuation firm, indicates otherwise. Available data shows a very low compliance level, as a negligible number of buildings are insured or adequately covered, by […]

Challenges in the Transaction of Family-inherited Real Estate

Authority to transact. As a rule and in practice, Real Estate must have a legal person or entity upon which title and tenure is vested. Such an entity thereby has the legal authority to transact on the property. As Inheritance is not the direct achievement of the beneficiary, these transactions tend to be rich on sentiment and highly emotional. An authority held by the executor does not in practice translate to an ability by the holder to transact without full consent of all the beneficiaries.  

A lease, sale, management agreement or development of an inherited asset is determined by the dictates of the will of the deceased. An executor or trustee with specific legal authority cannot transact beyond the deceased’s instructions as to the holding and beneficiaries.  

Assets inherited by a family present peculiar transactional challenges. In our culture, homes were traditionally built principally to cater for large families, and would offer a room/space for each child. The expectation was that the children would have shelter after the demise of the patriarch and maintain this asset. In cases where a few family members still reside in the house after the passing of the individual creates a delicate situation for disposing of the asset. The engagement of an experienced and knowledgeable valuer or agent with conflict resolution skills is critical to achieving a successful transaction. The agent should walk the process in a manner that mitigates these challenges, to enable the family remain united after the transaction. 

The challenges of conducting transactions on inherited property

In our over 34 years of practice experience, we have been privileged to assist a substantial number of families with legal executors and trustees in the disposal of inherited assets. In all, we find that the major challenge is not that of determining who has the authority to transact but of managing disputes between family members. This challenge exists even where specific names of executors or trustees are indicated in the will and after going through probate. A nightmare scenario for surveyor agents, that not only stalls but may derail a well negotiated brief.  

The disagreements usually arise from: 

  1. The occupation of portions of the asset by a beneficiary, who stands to lose their abode and/ or source of rental income. 
  1. Determining the mode of disposal; should they go for outright sale, development or lease.  
  1. Situations where the beneficiaries are of disparate social and financial standing, the financially secure ones may either desire to hold onto the inheritance as a family home lease it, or enter into some form of  developmental arrangement.  
  1. Family members in financial distress will always demand an outright sale and will readily accept a market price  while the financially secure would press for a sale price much higher than what the market reflects.  A crisis of confidence is thus created for the agent/surveyor who would either be accused of working for the party that engaged it or be declared incompetent. The dissenting group would demand for a debriefing of the agent and or seek to deal directly with the prospective buyers already secured by the agent.  
  1. Exaggerated expectations of the value of the assets. 
Resolving disputes

In cases of vast family asset holdings with several beneficiaries going to the third generation, it is common for otherwise agreeing parties with different sentimental memories or varying needs as fortunes change, to have a rethink during the legal process or negotiation/closing of a deal. 

In addition to establishing the legal authority and subsisting tenure and terms of the asset an experienced and knowledgeable agent will have to employ conflict resolution skills  for a seamless and successful transaction. 

Mitigation of conflict in these situations can be achieved by: 

  • Calming expectations, exaggerated expectations are a major dispute trigger, the agent should hold a meeting, with as many of the beneficiaries as possible including ones not listed as executor/s, to appraise them of the arrived value of the property, and the probable obtainable market price. They should be made to understand that the vagaries/dynamics of the property market will be the final determinant of the sale/lease price or development terms.  
  • Obtaining written and signed authority from the beneficiaries/executor to sell, lease, manage or secure redevelopment in some form – a joint venture agreement for example. 
  • Securing the title document, to ensure it is available for consummation of the transaction. 
  • Ensuring due diligence on the listed or implied beneficiaries to verify claims of assets being free of debts/encumbrances. 
  • Obtaining a signed list indicating the percentage of proceeds that will accrue to each beneficiary. 
  • Ensuring a meeting between representatives of the purchaser and beneficiaries. Transparency is key here, for it will shield the buyer from future extortion. 
  • Putting the proceeds in Escrow and disbursing as per the percentage list after tax deductions. 

In conclusion, the challenges notwithstanding, acting for beneficiaries of inherited properties, opens doors to new business opportunities from increased patronage through introductions from satisfied family members and their other well-heeled relatives. The listed measures (which have served us well) with strict adherence to legal requirements, are sure to guarantee a less challenging transaction. Most inheritors from our experience are second, third and fourth generation offspring of the deceased. They have sentimental and emotional investments in the assets even though they have no physical investment therein. They rightly, feel entitled and will derail a good deal if not properly handled. 

To earn that fee/commission, it is imperative that the agent must conclude disputes early in the brief and as amicably as possible.  

We have shared our experience on large family inheritance disputes in this post and will welcome readers experiences as we aspire to increase our knowledge base. 

Authority to transact. As a rule and in practice, Real Estate must have a legal person or entity upon which title and tenure is vested. Such an entity thereby has the legal authority to transact on the property. As Inheritance is not the direct achievement of the beneficiary, these transactions tend to be rich on […]

Need for land valuation information in Nigeria’s Disaster Management Process

Managing Disaster . Disaster is defined as: “A sudden accident or natural catastrophe that causes a great damage or loss of life”.

Humanity has existed with disaster and has therefore devised coping and mitigating strategies for dealing with its impact, from wars, earthquakes, volcanoes and floods. It can be argued that the Biblical Noah’s Ark provided the blueprint for the principles contained in the modern (DRM) processes, namely prevention/mitigation and preparedness in the pre-disaster stage and response/reconstruction in the post-disaster stage. Noah did prepare by first providing a shelter which maintained the survivors, till they could resettle on a new land to continue living. Preparation is key to success of any plan, which depends on the inputs and information available or envisaged to achieve an expected outcome. All successful management programs as a minimum include information on how to achieve resettlement of the affected persons, in the long term. The outcomes of mitigation efforts by our governments seem to fall short of full rehabilitation, as one of. The actions of the government so far suggest that a key tool for achieving full reconstruction and rebuilding, land/property value information, are not part of pre pre-disaster preparation process.

Aftermath of the January 2002 Lagos Bomblast
Part of George Osodi’s collection on the Lagos Bomblast

Encounter with disaster: The January 27, 2002 Ikeja cantonment bomb explosion, was my first conscious participation in a major disaster, (sans my civil war experience) this disaster which falls under the category of technological, chemical disaster, is one of many disasters that Nigeria experiences on a daily basis, from terrorism, to riots, pipeline explosions, oil spills and floods.

In the 2002 explosion, in the process of convincing clients that they needed a valuation of their property to aid their negotiation with the government for a fair compensation, I observed a great reluctance to agree to a valuation of their property as the basis for obtaining compensation/damages from the government. This reluctance was, partly due to lack of a precedence as Nigeria did not have many natural/man made disasters as at then. The lack of proper title/approval documents, added to a general belief and lack of trust in the government willingness to take responsibility were militating factors.

I can report that indeed only my clients armed with their valuation report did get some substantial claims from the government. I will also add that most of my clients did have access to government which may have given them leverage, but the reports were the negotiating tools, and not the same outcome for others who had nothing to negotiate with.

We now live daily with some form of disaster or other and it is a cause of concern that the governments whose responsibility it is to protect the people, when they fail offer relief, and not reconstruction or rehabilitation.

The measures operated in Nigeria do not fully comply with FAO/WHO disaster management protocols. There is poor land governance, making it difficult to identify boundaries and titles of impacted properties.

Types of and effects of Disaster

Nigeria is now home to the three types of disaster classification, natural (floods) technological/chemical (oil/gas pipeline explosions and oil spills, power outages to man made (terror attacks and riots). Their effects are felt not only by the impacted persons, but the extended families due the absence of regulatory safety nets, like insurance.

When a disaster occurs, the inhabitants are forced to flee their homes and source of livelihood, while some would suffer some form of physical injury, or loss of life, leading to health challenges as a result of stress from homelessness in particular; the government suffers loss of property/business tax income.

Importance of Land in Disaster Management

Land is THE natural capital, and access to land provides opportunity for use for shelter, agriculture or commerce. There is an established relationship between land and livelihood for survival and economic growth. This is why information on land/property values is key in the pre disaster preparation stage of any DRM program. It is expected that governments maintain proper land administration records, that contain information on, land tenure, ownership, use, planning permits and valuation. This is vital information that must be factored into any mitigating policy, if it is to be meaningful. It therefore follows that any long lasting and impactful intervention, must key in the value of replacing the land ( or requisitioning an existing structure) and its improvement, and restoring the community.

Poor land administration, amongst other negatives, falls short of meeting the compensation or resettlement and reconstruction needs, of the impacted community.

In confirmation of our 2002, earlier mentioned experience, the survivors of the March 15, 2020 Abule-Ado Lagos gas explosion, were equally reluctant to make any claims from government, for lost properties, because most of them as often with rural and urban slum dwellers (the usual victims of disasters), rarely have property title document nor approvals but were allowed to build, live and work, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by government operatives and rich individuals, a loophole government has exploited in its unfair dealing with affected citizens. It is no surprise then, that the government was able to announce with glee on Wednesday 22 April, 2020 that it had presented relief cheques to 53 family members of the dead. You don’t offer relief to people, you inadvertently caused harm due policy failures, they are entitled to damages and or compensation.

Responsibility for recovery after disaster

It is wholly the governments’ responsibility to aid the resettlement and recovery of affected persons through a fair value supported compensation. The compensation should not further depreciate the lives of the living, but should be fair enough to enable them to become productive, having placed the citizens at high risk, by granting them building approvals, and or a lack of planning to prevent the development of such high risk communities in the first place.

The objective of DRM is mitigation through preparedness, and the government can not be said to be prepared if it has no financial input for alternative temporary or long term shelter (IDP Camps) or value of properties it may requisition for emergencies. A good land administration database is to the benefit of the government. Valuation information prior disasters incorporated in the DRM is a useful tool for property taxation, and allows the government to calculate its loss from this head.

Post-disaster Valuation

It is an error to believe that the lack of property values information, loss of documents, renders a property valuation post disaster impossible. Valuation in such circumstances is only more challenging as it requires a valuation expert equipped with knowledge and expertise who can employ technology using geospatial data information and applying appropriate valuation methods, to estimate the retrospective values before disaster.

The values arrived at will support estimates of damages and assist informed decision, on relevant, appropriate and acceptable compensation approach, through, derived benefit, revealed preference, stated preference or cost methods.

In conclusion, it must be emphasized that all disasters negatively impact land resources, agricultural, commercial, industrial and residential, and its values should form the nucleus in the preparation for and rebuilding of affected persons and communities, without which, they can neither be fully resettled or recover.

References:

David Mitchell, Matt Myers, Donald Grant. 2015. Land Valuation: a Key Tool for Disaster Risk Management.

FAO Voluntary Guidance. 2012

World Bank land governance assessment framework.

Managing Disaster . Disaster is defined as: “A sudden accident or natural catastrophe that causes a great damage or loss of life”. Humanity has existed with disaster and has therefore devised coping and mitigating strategies for dealing with its impact, from wars, earthquakes, volcanoes and floods. It can be argued that the Biblical Noah’s Ark […]

COVID-19 and the Property Sector

Disasters and pandemics are exceptionally impactful on the real estate sector and on most non-life-maintaining sectors of the economy. As per Maslows scale of needs, the food and telecommunications industries – basic for human survival – at such times receive all focus and are most positively impacted. This is expected, seeing that life is necessary to maintain life.

To maintain life therefore all players in the real estate value chain (developers, agents, brokers, property/facilities managers, valuers/appraisers, contractors, professionals in the built Industry) who are unable to ply their trade in the normal fashion, must have to reinvent their businesses for continuity post pandemic.

Prolonged downtimes and off site activities by contractors as a result of enforced government quarantine (though necessary) impacts negatively on real estate supply, as follows:

  • Delayed delivery time, which may exacerbate the existing housing gap.
  • Real estate values will respond to a supply shortfall, which may spiral if no effective demand, backed by a conclusive demand exists, as a result of projected economic downturn.
  • Inflation, with its implications on material supply, labour and loans costs.
  • Possibility of loss of profit, as contract terms would not have contemplated a pandemic and would then not have been covered under “force majeure”.

The industry will outlive the pandemic

There is existing demand for all types of accommodation, which must be met after the pandemic. The construction industry is crucial to economic recovery efforts, and our ‘new’ way of life. Social distancing, working from home, extensive use of internet platforms, may minimally affect the commercial real estate sector, but may be a boom for residential and commercial and large retail sectors.

As dire (due to little or no generated income) as the present situation with COVID19 may seem, for the property sector a great deal of opportunity presents itself. This is especially relevant to the future-minded who are able to use this downtime to learn and innovate, leveraging on technology to remain visible and relevant.

A tip here would be to take advantage of social media. As people are home, they consume digital content more voraciously so now would be the time for industry practitioners to capitalise on their knowledge, experience and/or charisma to produce videos, podcasts, articles and infographics that are informative, educative and/or entertaining.

The new paradigm may well be an opportunity for professionals in the built industry, to dig into their wellspring of talents to produce outstanding, smart, energy efficient structures that promote or allow for owners/occupiers engagement in healthy behaviours. Types and designs of the built environment, (infrastructure, houses) have a direct effect on public health, and this pandemic demands new ideas and focus on designs that accommodates healthy home work and play environment.

Real estate is ultimately not a virtual product

There is a lot of literature on the internet on how realtors can make money or maintain their business contacts under these circumstances. Few can be said to be appropriate for a robust real estate transaction, from land acquisition, to construction, to occupation of completed structures. This is due to the nature of real estate business – a time and cost intensive venture which does not lend itself to full satisfaction from extensive virtual trading. While it is recommended that real estate players employ IT tools and platforms (like focalagent, Viewber and PayProp) to expose, communicate, track and share their product, draw new clients and maintain existing ones, these tools are great marketing, and preparatory aids to the real deal. Virtual transactions can not fully replace actual physical construction and inspection/viewing of developments. Defects and the “right feel” are visual expressions and can only be detected during an inspection, that can reveal the ACTUAL state of Real Estate.

That is why it is named “REAL” I suppose.

Disasters and pandemics are exceptionally impactful on the real estate sector and on most non-life-maintaining sectors of the economy. As per Maslows scale of needs, the food and telecommunications industries – basic for human survival – at such times receive all focus and are most positively impacted. This is expected, seeing that life is necessary […]

Why You should Pay the Valuation Fee

There’s been accusations and allegations, about valuers and financial institutions in particular, fiddling with the amounts as fees for the provision of Valuation services. This state of affairs creates dissonance in the polity and red ocean competition amongst colleagues. A situation that bodes no good for the real estate market. In this post, we take a peek into the issues of fees.

Sample Valuation Report on a proposed building

Need for Valuations:
Valuations are required for various purposes by individuals and corporate organizations: They are needed to produce accurate accounting documents like balance sheets or to set prices on assets that are to be sold. They are also used to determine how much tax is to be paid on an asset by it’s owner and when an owner wishes to challenge the amount of tax he/she is charged. Valuation is also used in the process of right-of-way acquisition and compensation during huge infrastructure projects but also in the routine process of obtaining loans from financial institutions. Consider the case of a trader who needs money to expand his business and presents his piece of land for the bank to ‘hold’ in case he is unable to pay. Banks require such collateral but need an independent expert to determine if the land would generate a sufficient amount to cover the loan if it ultimately had to be sold – here, a valuation is needed.

Why pay fee for Valuation?
A Valuation fee is the payment made to a certified Estate Surveyor and Valuer for valuation or appraisal services. Such a professional applies his/her intellect, training, experience and time to evaluate an asset and estimate it’s market value.
This fee as of necessity contains some element of cost and is often regulated, based on location, type and other intricacies of the asset.

Who pays?
At the base level whoever commissions a Valuation pays the fee. The owner of the asset usually commissions the Valuation and is expected to pay, however, fees in financing transactions are paid by the borrower. In these cases the lender will commission a licensed valuer, with presumably no emotional or financial attachment to the transaction.

Unfortunately, recent events – especially the cry-out by AMCON about the inability to sell off bad loans due to what they attributed to overvaluation – has thrown up some issues that need to be interrogated. How or why should overvaluation be so rampant in such a crucial sector? Were strict compliance to engagement of professionals with proven integrity and no financial or emotional attachment to the transactions not applied? One can only postulate that there exists a knowledge vacuum in the job of Valuation or what the valuer does. This knowledge gap has a huge impact on the quantum of fees paid for such services. So what really does a valuer do?

Work of the valuer:
To arrive at a fair value opinion as a guide to the market price, the valuer, undertakes its work in three painstaking stages:

Detailed inspection is carried out which takes between two hours to three weeks depending on the complexity of the asset, (a home, a factory premises or an industrial complex would take different amounts of time). The inspection is to determine the state, condition and quality of the asset. It may involve cooperation between specialists to carry out integrity tests etc.

Data gathering, analysis and Valuation. This process requires field work to collect, collate data from comparable assets for analysis. The inputs include details on location, footage, accommodation, facilities/amenities and neighbourhood environmental considerations. These inputs are thereafter analysed, checked to arrive at a realistic opinion of value, having applied the technical methodologies and formulas. This stage takes a few hours to four weeks depending on the complexity of the asset.

Valuation report: a detailed report is thereafter composed indicating the process and justification for the derived value. A badly worded or presented report cannot effectively communicate its findings, which will negatively impact the previous process, as such, this stage calls for proficiency.

Appropriate fee payment:
Given the time, experience and expertise required to prepare a proper asset valuation, it stands to reason, that adequate fee payment is the sine qua non for an unbiased professional service. It should therefore be a cause for concern for both the borrower and lender, when valuers accept pittance as fees. Individuals/organizations should be wary of valuers who accept arbitrary or over negotiated fees, that fall far below the regulated fees and the reasonable cost of executing the assignment.

In conclusion, a well remunerated valuation, only strengthens the economy to the benefit of all. It minimizes the number of hard-to-recover toxic loans and improves the confidence level for the profession, thereby creating more briefs, as the society grows to rely on expertise.

PP

There’s been accusations and allegations, about valuers and financial institutions in particular, fiddling with the amounts as fees for the provision of Valuation services. This state of affairs creates dissonance in the polity and red ocean competition amongst colleagues. A situation that bodes no good for the real estate market. In this post, we take […]

How Just is Nigeria’s Compulsory Acquisition Policy

Compulsory acquisition was the subject of my University Term Paper in 1975, long before I knew I would be involved in the process as a Real Estate Practitioner.

I have had a continuous hands on experience in the last 12 years, for federal, state and local governments as well as private organizations in the acquisition and compensation process in the country. The intent of this essay is to assist “victims” of compulsory acquisition on how best they can minimize their losses, given the draconian land use act that governs the process.

People talk about the institutionalisation of corrupt practices and about corruption being endemic and systemic in Nigeria. The process of compulsory acquisition and compensation is one such system – skewed towards such tendencies, by virtue of the laws that govern it. The land use decree/act is not only unjust, it is also simply unfair, and falls below international standards.

Laws Governing Land Acquisition and Compensation
The land use decree of 1978, and land use act of 2004, promulgated, and inserted in the 1999 Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution, is a study of how not to treat citizens of a nation. The act, reveals a flawed process whose intent and spirit leans too much on the rights of government, disguised as public purpose, while emasculating individual rights.

Contrary to the arguments for enacting the act and keeping it in our statute books, which are: to curb sharp practices on cost of land and make it easily accessible for developmental purposes, the act has multiplied the ills; “the process has suffered political and social abuse over the years” noted Samos Biobaku, calling for a repeal or at least an amendment. Individual rights to own property are neither justiceablebly treated or attended to, as I will try to explain herewith.

  1. The law empowers government to take your land without compensation under a dubious claim for public purpose, then turn round to sell the same to you or to any person, through certificate of occupancy, and annual lease what was forcefully removed from you. Otedola estate in GRA Ikeja is a typical example of this. This land moved through colonialist acquisition for BOAC, through WAAC to Nigerian Airways to the military during the war, then Lagos State Government, claiming to use it for stadium, but today shared to individuals.
  2. Under the law, the government will only pay for improvements, if structures and a colonial rate for crops. Section, 29 0f the 1978 For example, a mature mango tree, that has given a farmer a yield of 20,000. Naira per season for 10 years will be paid only 5,000. Naira as compensation. Is this fair compensation or has it put the individual in a state of equivalence? Take a 3million Naira construction cost property built on land, first bought from the indigenes for 200,000, Naira, then processed for CofO from government at a cost 250,000, Naira, at a yearly lease of 20, 000, Naira, plus rate/tax of 45,000 per annum for 5 years, when acquired, government pays according to section 51 of the act, for the “depreciated” value of the improvement. For our case study is 2.7m. Financial loss of 1.79m, excluding the cost for intangibles is recorded. To rebuild, you will need to go through the acquisition, process, but this time you have to acquire land in a remote location.
  3. Section 29, subsection 4, places the onus of providing a federal government, the CBN interest rate as evidence for payment on delayed compensation on the disposed land owner.
  4. It provides that excess in monetary value, for accepting settlement, is a loan to be paid by the victim.
  5. You can not challenge the adequacy of compensation to be paid or paid. Section, 47 prohibits any court in Nigeria from adjudicating in a citizens maltreatment by government.

How to operate profitably within this unwholesome situation is the subject of our next post.

Compulsory acquisition was the subject of my University Term Paper in 1975, long before I knew I would be involved in the process as a Real Estate Practitioner. I have had a continuous hands on experience in the last 12 years, for federal, state and local governments as well as private organizations in the acquisition […]

Managing Workmen

Picture this scenario

You just moved into your new home or office/shop, or you have been enjoying your space but need to upgrade, the old WCs, bathtubs/showers, doors, windows, power points, fittings and fixtures, or even tiles. You find you not only require the services of plumbers and electricians – the two most used tradesmen in the building industry, but the full team warts and all. How do you deal with 7 different technicians all at once; and ensure that you get your work done sequentially, quickly, efficiently at the least cost and without blowing your normal BP, not to count the cost of cleaning after them.

What do you really know about bolts, nuts, nipples, elbows, bends, joints, sockets, yarn and China/ Korea/ Italy/ England/ Aba made. How do you determine and confirm the type, quality and quantity of material needed to cover a specific area, to avoid over or under assessment and poor work. Those wires peeking out of that distribution board, are they well wired to ensure that your electrical loads are evenly distributed.

If you are the average homeowner, you are not likely to know much. What do you do? Get HELP!

This help will come in two forms:

  1. Self help.
  2. Professional help.

For self help, before you employ a plumber, carpenter and electrician, the most common and inscrutable tradesmen required post construction i.e. maintaining a living / working space or any of the other trades, you need to educate yourself a bit.

A: visit your local store to have an idea of prices and innovations in the building industry. Don’t go with your artisan, for he is a businessman and wants to make profit, so he would coral you into what he wants you to buy in collusion with his preferred trade.

Don’t buy the material yourself or you get to hear oga this is the fake of the brand I recommended and the quantity is not enough.

B: check the Internet for ideas.

C: Work out a budget based on your search.

D: Most important let them know they are your ally, treat them nicely and you will get the best out of them.

For professional help, get an engineer/ architect friend or hire one if the job is extensive, these are the professionals who are trained to design, diagnose these building parts that the tradesmen, execute. They are hands on at building sites and supervise the tradesmen. They understand specifications, quality, quantity and because trades men are the impute to their work, they have mutual understanding and respect for each other. Trades are required on a daily basis because their work involves those parts of a building.

To fix these parts of a building, you require the earlier mentioned tradesmen, who are alleged to be “professional”. I use the word professional advisedly, for that is where the problem lies. Simply put, the relationship between the tradesman and an electrical and/or mechanical engineer is akin to the relationship between a doctor and a nurse. One diagnoses, the other threats. Proper diagnosis is critical to effectiveness.

You hire a tradesman, you neither have much time nor the money and you are definitely an “illiterate” in that department, how can you tell, if your are being conned out of your hard earned money?

How do you know if the problem is correctly diagnosed?

Can you measure the quantities, or understand the quantities listed?

How do you confirm the quality of the material/ job?

How do you ensure you get value for your money?

How do you get remedy if all fails?

In summary, to save you the time, stress and extra payments, the best thing to do is hire an E/M engineer. He as a professional has you covered. He is in a better position to answer the above questions. Apart from saving you money, he is professionally liable and you can report him to his institution for remediation. He has his reputation and is more likely to keep it by ensuring a good job is done. He employs trades men as part of his job, and knows how to analyze the figures, materials, makes and specification. He can read the design drawings and most important, supervise to ensure a proper job is done.

In more organized countries all trades men are certified and registered by government. They are captured in the national productivity data base and this information apart from capturing all taxable businesses, provides the avenue and a way for mediation by small claims court ( Judge Judy/ Judge Brown) and a means of bring poor job men to book.

We do not have the luxury of the above for now, so in the interim, save money, stay covered by using professionals to handle your building/ facility maintenance and upgrade.

Next time we look at how to save on your maintenance costs.

Picture this scenario You just moved into your new home or office/shop, or you have been enjoying your space but need to upgrade, the old WCs, bathtubs/showers, doors, windows, power points, fittings and fixtures, or even tiles. You find you not only require the services of plumbers and electricians – the two most used tradesmen […]

Discussing Property Issues on the Udy Factor

Udy’s television programme provides practical information on a wide range of issues to help her viewers make informed choices.

I was invited to talk about property issues, and was asked some really good questions. What are the qualities of a good Real Estate agent? How can we avoid fake agents? What should the relationship between the landlord and tenant be? What is the process of buying or renting property? How much is the ‘real’ agency fee?

I hope there is something in the discussion that can help you!

Udy’s website is at theudyfactor.com

Udy’s television programme provides practical information on a wide range of issues to help her viewers make informed choices. I was invited to talk about property issues, and was asked some really good questions. What are the qualities of a good Real Estate agent? How can we avoid fake agents? What should the relationship between […]