Does the 10% recommended commission rate for Estate Agents really apply?

Does the 10% recommended commission rate for Estate Agents really apply?

Does the 10% recommended commission rate for Estate Agents really apply?

14th June, 2022

4 minutes, 43 seconds read

 If you have done real estate transactions in Nigeria, you may have noticed the variation in service fees that agents charge on successful deals. These variations are more noticeable in states that have big ticket transaction running into hundreds of millions and billions. One of the biggest contentions in the real estate market is the question of what constitutes appropriate agency commission on real estate transactions. What is the ideal fee? Is there an official document that sets the standard or scale for such service fees or is it at the discretion of the agent?  We spoke to some of the players in the industry and will share their views on these questions and more in this article.

Before we dive in, it is important to mention that the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors & Valuers (NIESV), and The Estate Surveyors & Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) are the professional bodies established to regulate Estate Surveying and Valuation profession in Nigeria; of which “Real Estate Agency” is one of their services. The institution is recognized by the government under the enactment of the Estate Surveyors and Valuers (Registration Act) Decree No. 24 of 1975. You may use this link to read more about the laws establishing the NIESV/ESVARBON. For the purpose of this discussion, we will be reviewing the professional scale of charges set out by these bodies.

 Agency fee in Nigeria is 10% of Gross Rent Payable, or Gross Proceeds of Sale/Purchase.

In 2014, the NIESV set out to review the Institution's Professional Charges in line with contemporary realities in Nigeria and consistent with global best practice. Based on the revised scale of charges, an agent in Nigeria is expected to charge 10% commission on gross rent payable, or gross proceeds of sales on a property as the case may be. This is meant to be the standard practice, yet, if you are familiar with the industry, you will see that a 10% commission rate is not usually the case. The commission rate is often subject to negotiation between the parties.

When we looked at global practice, we found that the recommended charge for real estate associations in the U.S and U.K falls below the 10% rate. For instance, agency commission in the United State is between 5-6% of the transaction value and usually varies depending on location. Commission on property transactions consummated in the San Francisco area attracts a 5.04% agency commission while those in Atlanta can charge as high as 5.98% . In the U.K, the fees are between 0.75% and 3.0%+VAT on transaction value.

After giving a close look at the agency fees set out by the NIESV and comparing it with the U.S and the U.K, a few things stood out.

10% Agency commission in Nigeria is high, and this is giving too much room for negotiation.

Generally speaking, commissions on real estate transactions are usually negotiable anywhere in the world, what makes the big difference is the negotiation window. In the US, the agency commission range is between 0.75% and 3.0%+VAT which is quite wider than the 5-6% range in the U.S. This allows agents to negotiate within this range, and the final fee depends largely on the value of the transaction. For transactions exceeding £500,000, agents are most times willing to accept commission closer to the lower end of the scale. If an agent for instance agrees to charge a 1% fee on a £500,000 deal, the commission would fall around £5,000.

Bringing this home, we found that irrespective of the recommended 10% agency fee in Nigeria is 10%, the actual commission that agents achieve in practice can range from 0.5% to as much as 20% of the transaction value. Agents can charge as much as 20% commission on rental transactions of less than ₦1 Million value. On the other hand, it is quite difficult for sellers to pay up to 10% fee on sales transactions, especially if the value of the property runs into hundreds of Millions and above.

We spoke to Chibuzor Arukwe who is an Associate member of the NIESV/Deputy Head of Valuation at Diya Fatimilehin & Co, a leading Estate Surveying firm in Lagos. He mentioned that transaction fees are now dependent on the negotiation power of the parties involved in the transaction. Speaking on the impact, Chibuzor mentioned that other Agents are willing to collect lower fees on transactions and this is making the competition even tougher.

This 10% commission cap is not realistic across all transaction types and this is making compliance much more difficult.

While setting a 10% standard rate can sound reasonable considering the unique economic realities in Nigeria, this high rate is opening room for negotiations and concessions beyond reasonable boundaries. A seller who is disposing of a property worth ₦1 Billion naira will most likely never agree to pay a 10% (₦100 Million) commission to the Agent. On the other hand, most Agents will argue that a 10% (₦50,000) fee is sufficient to compensate for the troubles associated with renting out a ₦500,000 rental property. What this does is that it throws open a wide window for negotiation between the parties, and without a negotiation ceiling set by authorities, the process ends up creating a loser vs winner situation. Speaking on this, Chibuzor also noted that the 10% cap is giving leverage to quacks to penetrate the market. He described quacks as unlicensed individuals who are operating as one man businesses. According to him, they have minimal expenses and no administrative costs to bear and therefore can afford to take almost anything as agency commission on transactions. 

Unlike in the U.S and the U.K where the negotiation window is very well defined with relatively high levels of compliance, Nigeria’s high agency commission rate has opened room for foul play among practitioners in the field. The market has become very competitive, which has forced a number of agents to cut on their revenue in a bid to secure briefs. Picking a page from the practice in the advanced world, agency commission should at least be a range, to start with. Where this exists, it is easier to have a guided negotiation. Much more work is needed in regulating Agency practice in Nigeria, and developing a more flexible scale of charges is one.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts. Follow us on LinkedIn to join the conversation and across all social media platforms, to access insights on the Nigerian real estate market. You can also send your comments and feedback to research@buyletlive.com We would love to keep in touch. 


Share:

Related Posts

26th September, 2022

2 minutes, 52 seconds read

Surging Inflation and how it is impacting the Lagos Residential Rental Market

In the last 12 months, Nigerians have referred to the economic situation as very daunting, especially for new renters in Lagos. With inflation surging over 20% in August 2022, the economic climate has not been very favourable for most low to middle-income earners in Nigeria. As the rising cost of goods and services continues to drive people to spend more in exchange for fewer items, Nigerians are constantly looking out for opportunities to cut down their expenses. 

One way we have seen this play out is in regard to new leases. Over the last half year, our interaction with real estate agents in Lagos has shown that existing tenants who before now considered moving to new apartments are reconsidering. The reasons for this move seem obvious. Cost! When we dug deeper, we found out that moving at this time can cost you almost twice what it will take to continue in your current space, and prospective renters have come to this realization. But why is this?


Rent has surged over 20% in the past 12 months.

If you are looking to rent a new apartment, it is most likely that you will spend 20% more for the same type of apartment in the same location than you would have one year ago. For tenants who have stayed long in their old apartment, the percentage increase will likely be more than that. Where the apartment is newer, especially with modern amenities, the additional premium being charged by Developers and Landlords can go as high as 30% or more depending on the location. When considered holistically, this additional rental burden is a major discouragement for people looking to relocate or move into newer apartments.


Agency commission, legal fees and caution deposits can cost as much as 50% of the rent.

In most parts of the world, traditional estate agents' fees range from 0.5% to 5%, depending on the value of the transaction and negotiating power of the parties. In the UK for instance, the range is 0.75% to 3% according to MoveWise, a UK-based real estate advisor. In the US, the commission is usually between 4% to 6%. Across most African cities, the percentage is higher and can range between 5% and 10%. We have found that for residential rentals especially of less than 10m value, most agents usually insist on a 10% agency commission. In some locations around Lagos, they can go as high as 20% for rental properties of less than a million. In addition to this, a 10% legal fee is usually mandatory, and some landlords can charge as high as 20% extra as a caution deposit. The impact of this is that it shoots up the total amount that prospective tenants end up paying for new leases, and has been a major discouraging factor for most prospects.


The additional hassle of moving and settling in can be very daunting in busy Lagos

Relocation costs can make things worse, but outside the financial cost, the hassle that comes with it wears out quite a number of people. Based on a sample relocation cost quote we got from Packmyload and a number of other Nigerian-based logistics companies, it costs a minimum of 150,000 to move furnishing items in a 2-bedroom apartment in Ikeja to Lekki Phase 1. Judging from the average rental price data that we are currently tracking Lekki Phase 1, this means that a prospective renter will need to pay between 5% and 10% of the rent on logistics.


Closing thoughts.

When considered individually, these costs may be insignificant but can sum up to almost the same amount that a prospective tenant is paying as rent, or even more. What has been your experience with renting a new apartment in Lagos? Share with us by sending a DM or commenting on our social media handles. 


If you are looking to rent or buy an apartment or get a shortlet, go to BuyLetLive.com and find properties that meet your requirements. If you are an agent, developer or landlord, visit the signup page on BuyLetLive.com to create an account and advertise your properties.


19th September, 2022

3 minutes, 18 seconds read

To rent or to buy - 3 reasons renting can be a better choice irrespective of financial capacity

In most parts of the world, there is so much prestige attached to owning a home. In a research publication by NOI Polls in 2013, 85% of Nigerians who were surveyed, indicated that they would like to own their own personal houses if they had access to a mortgage. While owning a home may appear attractive to a number of people, renting may be a smarter choice for several reasons. Outside the upfront financial implication that comes with an outright purchase, evolving work and lifestyle cultures can are make renting an accommodation more attractive than purchasing. In this article, we dig into the implications of home ownership across multiple countries, providing reasons why renting could be a better choice for you than purchasing out rightly.

 To start with, the rental cost in most cities is rising as property price continues to surge

Around the world, the rule of thumb in regards to renting an apartment is that a household should spend 30% or even better less than 30% of its annual income on accommodation. In some places in the UK, Australia and US, some households are spending closer to 50% of their annual income on rent, and in Lagos, our research has shown that some households especially in Lagos could be spending up to 70% of their net annual income on rent.

Although 68% of the world’s population currently own their homes as reported by RentCafe, more people across the world are becoming cost-burdened by rent. As property prices continue to surge, more people are less likely to afford to buy their own homes, making renting a more sustainable option. Let’s take a closer look at the other factors associated with home purchases. 

It will cost an average earner in Nigeria almost a lifetime to save up to purchase a property

 

Buying property is also very expensive and almost impossible for most of the world’s population to afford without aid. In even moderately priced places across the US, it will take median wage earners approximately ten years to save for a 20% down payment, according to Libertina Brandt of Business Insider. According to research from Unison, it will take the average earner up to 12 years to save up the down payment for a property in Columbus, Ohio.

The average earner in San Francisco will need to save for about 40 years, and those timespans extend significantly farther for people who want to reside in even more pricey locations. Even though renters might need to put down a security deposit, it will almost certainly be significantly less than a down payment and closing charges. In Nigeria and across most African cities, it will cost an average earner almost a lifetime to save up to purchase a property, and renting can be more sustainable than purchasing for many people.

Renters don't have to pay property taxes

Outside the initial cost of purchasing a home, there are also annual recurring expenses that are typically borne by landlords. One of such is government taxes and levies on real estate. This can range from stamp duty to annual rental income tax and can significantly push up the costs associated with home ownership. Stamp duty can range from 10% to almost 15% of property value or more in most countries. Even when the owner decides to sell, the gains realized on the asset is also subject to taxes, and can range from nothing to 30% in most countries. Outside the financial burden, the process of administering these taxes is sometimes very complex with very detrimental repercussions for non-compliance. 

Renting provides more freedom and flexibility as to where to live

A research article by McKinsey reported that 35% of the American population across all kinds of jobs, in every part of the country and sector of the economy, including traditionally labelled “blue collar” jobs in 2022, have the opportunity to work from home five times a week. Across the world, the global workplace has evolved. Geographic location, academic qualifications and other traditional considerations for employment are becoming less important and employees now have more flexibility to work from anywhere in the world.

 

With this trend, renting an apartment for most people may be an ideal decision against buying. With most jobs allowing for remote working, renting provides you with the flexibility to relocate to any country of your choice, without having to bother about disposing of your home or the pain of buying a new home in your new country of residence.

We like to hear from you. Send us your comments to research@buyletlive.com and follow us across all our social media pages to keep updated.