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How to escape poverty, unemployment with real estate business – Economist, Asein

Mr. Ohis Asien is a capital market operator, with a specialty in portfolio management. He has now delved into the real sector and has set up a flourishing firm, Lucent Homes and Properties.

In this interview with The Nigerian Xpress, Asein spoke on how he was lured into the real estate business, and how Nigeria’s legion of unemployed youths can start-up and succeed as realtors.

What experience made you shift your focus to the real estate business?

I operated in the capital market and discovered that no matter how much you invested; just one policy summersault can make you lose everything. We lost hundreds of millions of hard-earned money, both your personal and clients’ money in the capital market.

But there was something I discovered. The land I bought for about N300, 000 about 2002 in the Mowe axis of Lagos mainland, as at today, is being sold for almost N10 million. Meanwhile, the millions that we invested in the capital market, a lot of them are yielding zero returns years after we made investments into them. So, we’ve lost all those. This simply means that the best investment on earth is the earth itself, which is land. Land appreciates. And land is the most comfortable business that I’ve engaged in that never gave me stress.

At a time, I was involved in the media. I had a television station, IPTV, meaning Internet Protocol Television. I came with very unique technology. We wanted to provide services that would allow people to watch movies, and TV stations via their phones without the use of data. That was our technology and focus, but regulations and big players that saw us as a threat did not allow it to see the light of day.

But in the real estate business, property appreciates. It is about the only investment whose value never depreciates.

Tell us about your company, Lucent Homes and Properties?

Lucent Homes and Properties formally began operations on the 15th of January 2021. Our vision is to create a smart estate for our clients thus enabling them to do virtually everything from the comfort of their homes.

Working from home became the trend since the COVID-19 pandemic. There is now so much conversation around this to be the new normal. So, our goal is to enable people to work from home with ease. That is why we are investing heavily in fibre technology with the goal of reducing to the barest minimum hitches that often occur as a result of unstable Internet connectivity.

We also have land banking investment packages for clients. And this comes in the range of Gold, Diamond and Platinum. People can invest between N100,000 and N100 million and get interesting returns that range from 36 per cent to 40 per cent per annum, depending on their initial investment. Under this programme, we buy land, get deeds of assignment, secure your money and at the end of the year, you get your money back with interest.

Lucent Homes has a solid team as members of our Advisory Council, they are Surveyor Abiodun Awofeko, the CEO of Quest Consolidated Limited Nigeria, Mr Owoeye Philips, a first-class graduate, former MD, Pacific Bank, and ED of Unity Bank and UBA. We also have Bode Olohuntoba, a chartered broker, banker, administrator, running Trinity University, Lagos, Peter Onyeri, an engineer, and former GM of FAAN, Greg Esangbedo, a Barrister, Corporate Lawyer and former Company Secretary of Shell, Bank PhB, UBA, KPMG.

Many entrepreneurs prefer to run their business alone because it helps them make decisions faster. What is the big idea behind you bringing in personalities, as your advisers?

From my background, as an economist, and my experience in the Nigeria Capital Market, I understand what it means to have credible people on board. And I will advise anyone, that wants to succeed in business to get people of like minds to support your dreams because you cannot carry the vision alone. There’s a point where you have to start by yourself, and then get to the point where people will support you. And they will not support you unless they believe in your vision. But you must not pick any supporter unless they have value to add to your business. You must not form your board based on sentiment, by bringing on your family and friends into the business. Because if they don’t add anything, then the business could crash.

Where do you aspire to be in the next 10 years?

There is this saying, ‘Man proposes but God disposes’. As humans, we aspire to be the best, but providence determines where we’ll be. So, like I said, we were making heavy investments in capital market and other ventures, yet there was nothing much to gain. But in real estate, we started with nothing and we foresee reaping bountifully by the end of the day. And with the kind of collaborations and the synergy with people, we believe that in the next two years. The Lucent Homes brand will give some real estate companies some concern.

With the rising unemployment in the country, how can the average Nigerian youth tap into the real estate sector and be successful?

The real estate sector is wide and has plenty of opportunities. No one can tap all the abundant opportunities in the business. You can go into marketing and collecting commissions. For example, in Lucent Homes, we give as high as 15 per cent for directs sales to whoever brought the buyer. Other referrals also collect from three to one per cent. So, just imagine if a youth gets a 15 per cent commission for land that was sold for 10 million. That is about N1.5 million, as a commission. That is a lot of money, if you consider our system, where our minimum wage is about N30, 000 or 35, 000, and even some states struggling to implement it. So, imagine how many years of wage you’ll work to earn N1.5 million.

As a youth all you have to do is contact a friend or family abroad that needs trusted companies to buy land from. And that it is where Lucent Homes comes in.

So, what business advice can you share with youths on how to startup? 

Youths should come into the real estate business. And believe in yourself. Don’t shy away from marketing. We are all marketers and everyone is selling. Even as a young man when you go talk to a girl, you’re selling yourself to her. So, as a youth, if you can only cultivate the habit of selling, then you’ll make a lot of money in the real estate sector.

But if you want to come in and start as a real estate company, then that would a huge and challenging task because you will have gotten a lot of experience in life. You must be extremely patient. You must not be greedy for immediate gain, because it might take you time before you break even. In Lucent Homes, we have not started making profit yet because we are still building. Over time the money will start to roll in. for now, we are not thinking of what we would get, rather we are thinking of tomorrow, and the value we are creating.